Students with a range of learning needs like to:
• Express ideas creatively
• Do things in unique, non-traditional ways
• Use the computer
• Demonstrate success and ability
Wixie and Pixie provide opportunities for all students produce high-level work, helping them generate a sense of pride in their abilities and encouraging determination and motivation to help them achieve more.
Wixie and Pixie support Universal Design for Learning
In order to teach all learners to high standards, we have to use multiple approaches to accommodate learner differences. To help implement success in this goal, the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) has developed the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model to provide a blueprint that encourages multiple ways of teaching and learning.
Multiple means of representation
Teachers can use Wixie and Pixie to develop materials and activities that present content through text, pictures, and voice narration. These tools include over 800 curriculum-based activities that also combine pictures, text, and audio. Teachers can customize these activities to meet the specific needs of their students.
Multiple means of action and expression
Students can use Wixie and Pixie to draw diagrams, click-and-drag objects in activities to demonstrate content knowledge, write, record their voices, and share their ideas as they create documents, comics, storybooks, and more.
Because Wixie works in the cloud, it includes an entire suite of tools teachers can use to plan, implement, and evaluate student work, differentiating tasks for the unique needs of their students.
Multiple means of engagement
Every learner is unique. Wixie’s many tools and options provide a fun way for students to demonstrate their creativity and explore and share their passions, resulting in increased motivation and engagement.
When Mary Jackson used Pixie for a poetry project with her ESE class, she found, “It was great for me as a teacher, not having to worry about the program, because the students were able to figure out how to use it right away.”
Val Donnan used Pixie throughout her planning and implementation of a UDL astronomy unit.
"I used Pixie to design an ‘interactive book’ with the stickers and through the sharing options created it in many formats. I made trading cards for my students to sequence and play vocabulary games and worked to differentiate student activities to support their various learning needs.
One set of students explored the ‘interactive book’ and follow instructions within an activity template to create their own, covering a certain number of key academic vocabulary words and concepts and using text and audio to have their book come to life.
Another group created a similar book by adding their own text and selecting images to match. Because of disabilities that limit verbal expression, they had assistance as they recorded the audio component.
A third group needed a scribe to complete the writing, but memorized the text and recorded their own audio. In the group where none of this was possible due to physical and cognitive challenges, students engaged with and ‘read’ an interactive book supporting our astronomy unit.”
Modifying Wixie and Pixie
These powerful tools can also be applied and modified for a variety of learning needs and includes features and preferences that allow learners needing additional accommodations to utilize the software effectively.
Speech and language support
Wixie can help students in both their receptive and expressive language skills. Wixie provides many ways for students to use words in context, express their ideas, build vocabulary, follow directions, and practice using words and their proper meaning.
Students with speech challenges can record their voice, giving them a vehicle to practice and perfect their narrations. They can also build phonological awareness with auditory and visual word games. Wixie includes activities like digraphs, diphthongs, and rhyming words that support language acquisition. Students who cannot articulate the difference between similar-sounding words can use the clip art and drawing tools to illustrate their comprehension.
Students with learning and emotional needs
Students with specific learning disabilities often struggle with the level of achievement that is expected of them versus what they are actually achieving, often leading to frustration. Wixie provides a platform for students to showcase their ideas and feelings using the same tool as their peers.
Judy Berlage found one that when one of her autistic students used Pixie, he was “totally attentive, made his own picture with no problem, and retained more than I believe he would have with just paper and pencil”
Students an Autism Spectrum Disorder may need additional support with communication and social skills. The visual nature of Wixie makes it easy for both teachers and students to highlight important words and phrases and support text with pictures. Teachers and students can also use Wixie to develop social stories that help them see situations from the perspective of other people and practice working with social cues.
Students with emotional issues need to express their emotions in an alternative, non-threatening, non-violent way. Releasing creative energy by scribbling with Wixie’s Paint tools and using color to show feeling helps these students calm down and express themselves in a positive way.
Val Donnan found that the paint tools gave one of her students a way to calm down, seeing an amazing "difference between the angry, out of control moments compared to minutes after expressing himself."
Students with physical limitations
Students with physical mobility challenges or barriers can now use a range of assistive input devices, from customized track pads to head mice that allow users to point and dwell to control cursor movements and mouse clicks. Many of these devices make Wixie accessible for students with limited mobility.
Mike Hakkarinen found that Pixie allowed a student with physical limitatations “to do all the same things the other students were doing and … feel part of the classroom.”
Displaying information visually is important for students with a hearing challenge. Wixie helps both teachers creating instructional materials and students demonstrating comprehension to combine pictures and text for captions and explanations.
Limited or Low Vision
Users can adjust preferences and account settings to make text and objects more accessible to students with visual challenges or limitations. Users can specify the font and size of default text in text objects as well as the default size of stickers and their scaling handles. Teachers can also remove scaling handles from specific objects in activities.
Because Wixie and Pixie provide tools for students to showcase understanding in many ways (and for teachers to design in many ways), they can be effectively used to support a wide range of learners!