Seesaw – makes light work of so many classroom tech challenges

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Seesaw possibly the best iPad app in a long while….

Seesaw is free app and service. I’ve been using for about four weeks since it was mentioned to me by Mr Leach @Y5Florence Melly Primary school in Liverpool. It works like a simple class blog. It enables children to post their “in progress” work and final outcomes for teacher and peer feedback. The set up process is easy and quick. The class can access the space using a unique QR code or though a Google Apps for Education email address. The teacher and class use the same app. The teacher signs in and the children connect easily with the QR code. There is no need for passwords for the learners.


When the QR code is read, the class have 6 options for adding content to Seesaw portfolio. They also have the “Open in” option from other apps. This simple approach makes light work of archiving work from class sets of iPads. There is even a simple drawing tool and note maker for writing and sharing written work.

What makes this really effective is the ability for the class to “like” and comment on each others work. A real audience is created so reflection and peer assessment can take place. Feedback can be in text comment or voice recorded format. The main window appears like a scrolling blog with the most recent work at the top. It has a Twitter and Facebook feel and so is appealing to many children.


The children’s names can have simple avatars or their own selfie style photos. This is a teacher  decision. The visual icons help younger learners navigate. The teacher can also create folders for projects to be stored. For example there could be a Literacy, Maths and Science folders. The work can also be viewed in calendar view so we can see how a piece has developed over time.

The class Seesaw space is private. Only the teacher and class can see it. It is safe and a good place to start exploring digital citizenship and etiquette. Parents can be invited so they can see their own child’s work.

Whilst it is incredibly easy to use, it is sophisticated to the extent that individual post can be shared where appropriately on public school blogs. If you are a fan of publishing apps like Adobe Voice and the music app Auxy, the links from these apps will also paste with a link beautifully into Seesaw.

So where is the catch? The file sizes are limited to 50Mb and five minutes in length video/audio. There is no total storage limit. A teacher can have up to ten concurrent classes and archive them to create space for new ones. Seesaw state that they are committed to making this a free tool for teachers. There are paid versions for school-wide visibility and accessing data related to parental engagement.

If you need a free and easy to use digital portfolio tool look no further. This is really is an app that teachers will find helpful in and beyond the classroom.

Appsmashing – Augmented Reality with Green Screen

It is a while since I played around with Augmented Reality apps or even used them in a workshop. Here is a neat idea where we are combining ZooKazam’s augmented animals with Doink’s Green Screen. The final outcome could be some kind of virtual Zoo documentary. Although I am going to post something interactive creation on the iPad so I might roll it into that eventually.


I am tea powered.

Apologies, I should really have cleaned and tidied up the Roadtrip Lab before letting you in!

As you can see, I’m working with some “lo-fi” tech tools;

  • a plastic cake stand
  • green card
  • Cheap Ikea Lighting

Yep… no expense spared in the production values!

Because the clever people at Doink have enabled each track to be “resized” we can get very creative with what we combine and how we combine it. I’m just using cheap card from the stationery shop and it works fine for primary and middle school projects.

The Zookazam app is a little flakey. it requires a lot of available RAM.I found the class having to hard reset the iPads to give a jolt.

“Overlays” – Making the most of the Doink Green Screen app.


This is app has quickly become a big favourite, not just with learners, but also with teachers. It works very well in an EYFS context as staff can quickly combine/mash up themes and include the children presenting.

Recently whilst visiting a school in Staffordshire, I was given about 90 seconds to prepare for some work with Reception teachers. The children had been learning about sharks teeth. So I showed staff how to create a back drop and an overlay in Puppet Pals. This then created a more immersive video space for the children to show and tell what they had discovered about sharks teeth! 

 Puppet pals, Doink Green Screen and iMovie are tools that all teachers can become skilled in very quickly. The camera’s on the current iPad Airs are better than most school digital cameras. As a result, the quality with the green screen app is very high, even with temporary sugar paper as a green screen. 

 So here’s one way to use that luxurious additional track in Doink’s Green Screen as an “overlay”. Here’s an example.

The other really useful tip is the ability to resize the video by pinching and spreading on the video track. For example, students could be made to be very small in front of a volcano or massive giants in story telling project.

So here we are using Puppet Pals to create the overlay. If you can find transparent PNG files they will be pre “cut out”.
otherwise the images can be a bit rough at the edges (literally)!


A simple green rectangle will work as the green screen. Here you can see it selected in Puppet Pals.


Record your action. Remember that a double tap on the character will change it’s direction. Pinching and spreading will zoom out (shrink) Zoom in (enlarge) the character.


Export your Puppet Pals projects to the camera roll and then add to the first track in Doink Green Screen.


Here we can see  the overlay imported into the top video layer. It will appear in front of the children presenting (the middle layer) and the green screen image in the background (the bottom layer). Before recording the children, explore pinching and spreading the overlay in terms of its position and size.
When you have things in place, export to the camera roll and edit in iMovie.


A helpful tip in iMovie, is to use the zoom in option if the edges of the green screen are showing. In this example, you can see a break in the green screen in the top left of the image. To zoom in and effectively crop the video image, select the video clip by tapping it in the timeline and you will see the “magnifying glass” icon in the bottom right of the screen. You can now use a pinch/spread gesture to zoom in or out. This enables you to crop into the image.



and then after zooming in:



Obviously, this process is aimed at teachers and support staff, but older children can use this workflow and plan really exciting projects.