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Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

Flipping the Recorder Classroom

Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

…five years ago was a game changer. This year, Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw, the Learning Journal, was a life-changer! You can read about my early adventures with flipping the learning using old-fashioned email here and  here. It worked great; my students would use their parent’s smartphone or the family iPad to make videos of their playing to pass off a required recorder piece. Then they would use their parent’s email address to send the video to me and I would listen and respond back through their parent’s email. It was amazing!!

Flipping completely changed how my one to one time was spent during class. My students were able to work independently and progress further than ever before. They were engaged in learning and in teaching others through the Recorder Repair Shop.    I didn’t think it could possibly get any better!


And then Seesaw came along!

What is Seesaw?

“Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio. Seesaw empowers students of any age to create, reflect, collaborate and share. For students, Seesaw helps them see their own growth and provides an audience for their work – whether that be peers, parents, or the world at large. For families, Seesaw gives an immediate, personalized window into their child’s day so they can support learning at home. For teachers, Seesaw saves time on organization and communication, makes formative assessment easy, and provides a safe place to teach digital citizenship skills.”

If you are not familiar with Seesaw, please go here to read about the Student driven digital portfolios and simple parent communication that is spreading like wildfire. Seesaw is all that and so much more. I use Seesaw with Prek – 4th grade and have many examples to share, but I’ll start with the recorder unit.



Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

We are 1:1 iPads and students take their iPads home to continue the learning and do homework at night. How cool is that!!! Seesaw is one way we deliver assignments to and receive work from students.  For years, the problem with using iPads has been that we couldn’t easily get the work OFF of the iPad. Not any longer! Most of the major educational apps allow a direct export to Seesaw or an “Open-in” Seesaw option. For example, when my students create a video using the Explain Everything app, they can export it and “Open-in” Seesaw. If students create a recorder project in Book Creator, they can export it as a video directly to Seesaw. Our school has purchased these two apps and our students use them constantly in all subjects to demonstrate their learning.

Students Access Learning Materials Through a Google Site

Since I began flipping the recorder classroom, I have had my students bookmark my RecorderKids15 Google site. I created this site to house the video examples for each recorder piece and to deliver an Explain Everything template for each piece they pass off in Recorder Karate.  Here is an example of an Explain Everything lesson file for Twinkle, Twinkle. (as a PDF)

Twinkle Example



Why Use Explain Everything with Recorder Karate?

The reason I use Explain Everything for flipping the recorder classroom is so that I can create a step-by-step lesson within the file AND my students can look at the score while making a video.  To me, that is important because I can see if they are fingering the notes correctly and I can catch and quickly correct a student who is playing with their right hand on top, etc. Students don’t mind the extra steps because they earn beads for completing and recording each page. My goal is to teach them how to break down the piece and then put it back together at the end. Explain Everything allows me to do that easily.

Here is an example of a beginning student working through the rhythm of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” It’s easy to embed an audio file on an Explain Everything page.




Here is an example of a student working through the steps to “Amazing Grace.”  You can skip ahead to see what it looks like when a student adds a video on the page.


With Explain Everything, I can also embed a brief tutorial video and an accompaniment file so students may play along. They love it!  F.Y.I, During class, it’s also super easy for me to air-drop an Explain Everything file with a specific and brief lesson for students who need help or students who need another quick challenge. Our students use Explain Everything and Book Creator so often that it is just another tool, like a pencil. As a technology integrationist, I want to support and encourage the skills needed to use these apps with confidence.

Once my students complete the steps and record themselves playing the required piece, they upload and “Open In” Seesaw. The file uploads as a video.  Any work we do during class is seen in real-time, so I know who hasn’t complete an assignment. Often, I have them line up by calling out those who have uploaded their work to Seesaw, like an exit ticket.


How Does Seesaw Help Flip the Recorder Classroom?

Before Seesaw:

Students had to use a parent’s email address and not all parents embraced that. Many times, they ran out of data and were unable to send videos. Sometimes, the videos were too large as the kids were trying to cram everything in one video. Using their parent’s email, students would only receive the feedback if their parents shared it with them. Getting connected with the Google site was troublesome for a few students who didn’t have parental support to bookmark the site on their home computer.  It was time-consuming for me because I had to download the videos before I could watch them and then spend hours commenting and sending resources back through email. In spite of everything, it worked and my students excelled. We didn’t know any better!!

Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

  • Sharing Links: Students can connect with the Recorder Kids Google Site either through a bookmark that now lives on the home page or through the link posted in the Music folder on Seesaw.
  • Screencasting: Students can record audio while drawing or creating text labels. Their simultaneous annotations and audio are captured as a video, effectively creating a screen casting feature. This comes in handy during instruction.
  • Options: Many times, the students now have multiple smart devices at home and they will look at the music on one device and use the back camera to make a video right in Seesaw. That’s even easier. But, during class, if I see them using incorrect hand placement or fingering, I will insist on them making a video that includes their fingering or they won’t earn the bead.
  • Instills Pride: Students will work diligently to make an acceptable video because it’s easy to do with Seesaw.
  • Comradery: Students can work together to record duets during class time, and by tagging each students, their parents get to see the fun they are having.
  • Innovation: Students can create duets at home and face-time using Seesaw…. check this one out!!


or this one:


  • Authentic Audience: My students have an authentic audience in their parents and their peers. Next year, we will be connecting with other classrooms through the blog feature and that will be so exciting.
  • Commenting (with emojis) is super easy for everyone, and students LOVE getting comments from their parents.

  • Empowers Students: Seesaw empowers students to independently document what they are learning at school.
  • Improves Behavior: Behavior problems are almost non-existent because I have a relationship with each child. Even the quiet children get my undivided attention as their work gets noticed and receives feedback.
  • Timely Instruction: Because students are learning every day, I can identify and fix mistakes that would likely go unnoticed until the next week’s lesson.
  • Builds Trust: My students know that Seesaw will take them directly to me and I will always help them.


Have you ever felt this way about learning something new?


  • Immediate Notification: Seesaw’s immediate, visual updates actually get seen by busy parents and give families an opportunity to provide encouragement.
  • Teacher accessibility: When students add to their Seesaw journal, uploaded content is organized by student, and is immediately accessible to teachers from any device.
  • Teacher control: Teachers approve all new additions and comments before anything is shared with parents and families.
  • Student Driven: During class, we are able to make impromptu videos to demonstrate understanding which can quickly be checked.
  • Reinforces Procedures: It solves the problem of students surrounding the teacher to pass off a piece. My rule is that there has to be a video in Seesaw to pass anything off.
  • Improves Work Flow: I can quickly connect students to a Recorder Repair video in a folder, on the Google Site, or create one on the spot all within the Seesaw app. I no longer have to create the video, save to photos, and attach the file to an email. Students can “copy and edit” an image of a recorder piece and add sound to it. It won’t show their playing but it will be heard.
  • Extends the Classroom: Learning happens all during the week and I can send messages to students to ask how they are doing, give encouragement, and send extra pieces to them if they need a challenge, or another piece on the same level.
  • Enables Differentiation: I can tailor my instruction and differentiate as never before.
  • Easy Uploads: Uploading a complete video from Explain Everything involves: save > export > open in Seesaw.
  • Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

    Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

  • Seesaw is FREE
  • Seesaw has unlimited storage
  • Seesaw File Size:
    • Audio Annotation on Item: 5 min
    • Audio Comment: 2 min
    • Video Length: 5 min
    • Video File Size: 500 MB
  • Evidence of Growth: Seesaw makes it easy for students and teachers to review progress over time and demonstrate growth.
  • Digital Portfolios: The Seesaw portfolios are a great asset at parent teacher conferences and even student-led conferences.
  • QR codes are generated within Seesaw for posting on a “Wall of Fame.”  Instead of Aurasma, just use a QR code. How cool to share a beginning video and a video of their best playing at the end of the unit?

Seesaw 5.0 Updated Features

Here are the latest updates to Seesaw 5.0

  • Introducing Messages: Quickly send an announcement to all families or students in your class, or privately message individual parents right within Seesaw.
  • Simplified App Design: Journals, Blog, Skills, Inbox and class settings are all on one screen.
  • Customizable Class Theme and Icon: Personalize your class with a fun color theme and snazzy icon.
  • New Family App: Families now have just one place to check to see recent posts, can browse portfolios using folders and calendar, and privately message teachers.

With the new updates to Seesaw, it is possible to create a folder that contains images of recorder pieces, videos of performances, and “Recorder Repair” videos. The trick is to upload these without tagging anyone so students can find them but the parents are not notified.


Before Flipping the Recorder Classroom

This is my Recorder Karate accomplishment board BEFORE flipping. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I was teaching to the lowest level with no clue how to individualize instruction. Waiting on the struggling students and holding back the quick learners frustrated everyone.

Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw

Now look back at the top of this post to see the difference Flipping the Recorder Classroom with Seesaw makes in my students’ learning. Seesaw is a huge reason this is possible and the results are undeniable.

What do you need to Flip?

Do you need a site like recorderkids15 to make flipping work? Absolutely not, but you and your students are welcome to use the resources.  Do you need access to Explain Everything and Book Creator? No. Those $$ apps are incredible, but not necessary. You can create teaching videos and use Seesaw to deliver them to your students who can respond and return their work through Seesaw. It’s free. If you don’t have it at your school yet, contact the Seesaw team to sign up right away.

Seesaw works!! Seesaw makes everything easier!

I would love to hear your take on the use of Seesaw and / or flipping the recorder unit. I’ve listed just a few ways it has changed my world; I’m sure there are many more. Because of these reasons and many more, I’m very proud to be a …

Hey! What happens during class time if the learning is flipped?

Come back or sign up to receive my next post on the exciting adventures that can be had once the learning is flipped.




I’d love to hear about your Seesaw or Flipping adventures!!


Chillax if you can!








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Cherie Herring

Music/Technology Integration at Hammond School
I teach elementary music, am passionate about integrating technology into my teaching, am obsessed with my SMARTBoard and iPad, and enjoy creating lessons and sharing ideas. I love technology almost as much as I love cheesecake, and with more energy and ideas than I know what to do with, I can't wait for the sun to come up each morning! I'm wife to Prince Charming and mom to three incredible girls who keep me balanced. . . sort of!

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