Whenever I visit a primary classroom, I commonly see students rotating from table to table to complete activities in literacy, math, or science centers. But at the same time, I often see computers in the corner simply screaming for attention during this time.
Individual and unsupervised work with computers for primary students you say? It’s not hard, when you use Wixie! Wixie provides endless possibilities for classroom computers during structured center or station time, even in primary classrooms.
Wixie includes hundreds of curriculum-focused templates you can assign to an entire class or customize and differentiate for individuals or small groups. Then, when students log in at the center, the assignment appears in their Project folder and they can start working immediately.
Many activities are click-and-drag templates you can use to assess knowledge on topics like seasons, word families, and patterns. This is a great place to begin if you need to get students accustomed to how to use the computer and work independently. While you do need to teach students how to log in, their work is also saved automatically so no more tears for lost work!
But even when you ask students to complete something more than click and drag, little program experience is needed in order to produce impressive products. They just need a few basic instructions like: “Design a geometric snowperson that includes at least three squares, circles, and triangles.”
Add instructions to a blank page and use a printed checklist to outline your expectations. Then, provide a set amount of time for students to complete the design. Make them complete their checklist before doing any "decoration" and keep the time limited – 10 minutes at max.
If you have iPads or tablets, use a template like Large Lined Paper to have students trace letters and practice handwriting!
What could the process look like?
When I gaze into my implementation crystal ball, I picture a teacher leading an activity overview that shares content expectations, followed by a review of the Wixie tools students will be using to demonstrate that knowledge, such as opening an assigned activity, recording, and using specific paint tools or Stickers.
For example, if students were asked to create a page for a class version of It Looks Like Split Milk, by Charles G. Shaw, a teacher would start be reading the book and talking about shapes and images we see in the clouds. They would then open Wixie and demonstrate how to:
1. Open the assigned activity.
2. Use the Eraser tool to create the image.
3. Type text in the existing text boxes.
4. Record narration to the page.
Then, over the course of the next week or two, students rotate through this computer center to create their page. I see another teacher breaking the process down into two phases, where students learn to open the file and paint, and then return for a second visit to type and record.
Here is a sample created by just one student.
Then, the teacher combines these pages into a single class project, adds music, shares on their classroom web site and presto! My crystal balls shows them becoming a very popular teacher.
Build center activities as a grade level team
My implementation crystal ball also shows first grade teachers working in collaboration to generate starting sound templates. After a brief team discussion, each teacher generates a single sort and sequence activity that progresses in skill understanding like single letter starting sounds, hard ‘g’ or soft, blends, etc.
The team shares their templates and ding, each first grade teacher has center activities for the next four weeks. If your Wixie account is set to publisher, can even share templates within Wixie with your school or district. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the curriculum office provided appropriate center templates for each grade?
Paint tools vs. clip art
While using the paint tools can result in work that is more original, some students will spend more time drawing than makes sense for the activity. This is where you can take advantage of activities that utilize the Stickers.
Wixie includes over 4000 clip art images targeted for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade instruction. If you are asking students to demonstrate their knowledge of the frog’s life cycle, using existing images enables them to address that objective much more quickly and efficiently.
If students are able to finish early with that objective, give them the green light to go back and "enhance" their project with original, yet appropriate, illustrations. Use Wixie’s painting tools as a reward students can use to personalize their work after they have demonstrated what they know and understand.
Recording is crucial
Primary students are so excited to be working on the computer and often know so much more about the topic than they are able to type. So unless you have an adult or older student helping at the center, put the focus on recording their thinking orally.
For example, have students can draw a prediction for a story or illustrate the water cycle and record their knowledge. Set up the station with a headset microphone so they can practice narrating fluently without disruptions and in a safe environment.
There is nothing quite like having an artifact that includes the student’s voice, especially when you are dealing with demanding parents who can be placated by hearing their child’s adorable voice. But seriously, audio recording provides a fantastic window into progress in reading fluency and speech, especially if you have students use center time to create a similar activities month after month.
Don’t forget you can print
While the beauty of Wixie is online, students can also print their work. Imagine students creating All About Me pages and then printing as a trading card. Students can then trade their cards to get to know their fellow students.
Use the same process to target new vocabulary words or create a set of Sink/Float challenge cards. Each student creates a page and when the cards are printed, they can be used as a separate station activity. Students using educational products they create.... How cool is that!
Wixie makes learning fun for students and teachers
And, of course, my favorite thing about Wixie with primary students is that they can use it at home for no additional cost and just for FUN! They can use Wixie to create birthday cards for grandpa and grandma complete with audio recording, they can create a digital scrapbook about the time they learned to ride a bike, or just play using wacky tools like symmetry or smudge.
Even assessment is easy with Wixie. Because each student has a unique Wixie account, simply log in to your teacher account to view the work of all your students and even leave them comments… whether that is at your desk, at a coffee shop, or at home in your pajamas!
Research suggests that sustained learning involves the meaningful application of knowledge. If you are ready to jump in with computer-based centers, look beyond “drill and kill” options. With Wixie’s text, image, illustration, and narration tools, you can have your student learn through applying knowledge not rote memorization!