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Professional Learning
Services
Pixie Icon

Pixie

Software for student publishing and creativity.

Wixie Icon

Wixie

Online student publishing and creativity platform.

Frames Icon

Frames

Create animations, digital stories, and stop-motion.

Share Icon

Share

Create web sites, epubs, and presentations.

Tech4Learning Blog
Tech4Learning Blog
Tech4Learning Blog
Tech4Learning Blog

6 ideas for blank-screen projects in middle school

Posted by Melinda Kolk on Jan 17, 2022 3:31:18 PM

I love the sweet, expectant nothingness of an empty page."
              - Peter H. Reynolds

Wixie is a digital canvas that students can use to combine writing, images, voice, and video. Wixie gives middle-school students tools they can use to demonstrate their understanding in the classroom, as well as share ideas, express themselves, inform others, and change minds.

To use a blank canvas in Wixie, simply have students log in, and select the New button on their Wixie home page to choose the orientation they would like to use.

wixie-new-project

Here are six ideas for Wixie projects that will get your middle-grade learners comfortable starting to create from a blank canvas.

1. Visualize vocabulary

According to Allan Paivio’s dual coding theory, if we code a word or concept into memory in two different ways, such as text and images, we improve our brain’s ability to remember it. Wixie makes it easy for students to combine text and images to help them visualize and better remember the meaning of words and academic vocabulary terms.

Students can add terms and definitions using Wixie's text options and then illustrate using images from the media library or create their own with the paint tools. You can code the meaning even further by having students use Wixie's recording tools to narrate a definition or use the word in a sentence or two.

2. Take a digital storytelling approach to retelling

While we often use the term retelling only in primary grades, we need to evaluate student comprehension in middle grades too. Having students retell stories using a more creative approach can help us determine if students comprehend both literary and informational texts.

wixie-sample-retell-ms

For example, students might create a digital story that modernizes a myth or legend they are studying. They could also use empathy and combine narrative and expository writing to create a digital story that shares a historic event using the perspective of a specific actor in it. Students could also create a printed example of a newspaper announcing a scientific discovery or the achievements of a group of people.

3. Create infographics

In today's information age, infographics have become a popular way to communicate complex ideas and make large quantities of data understandable. Infographics can also be statements of priority and action.

Constructing their own models and diagrams requires higher-order thinking skills and helps students organize and better comprehend information. This type of performance task also helps you evaluate student understanding.

wixie-sample-infographics-m

Ask your students to take data from their research and use Wixie's paint tools, images, and text options to convey information in a way that is easy to understand. The Wixie image library contains thousands of images, including an infographics library, which students can use to quickly represent data and information.

wixie-image-library-infographics

4. Connect geometric transformations and art

Math is way more than rote memorization and rules. Connect math with beauty and help students "look for and make use of structure" (CCSS.MATH.MP7) by asking them to paint with symmetry and explore additional geometric translations by creating their own Escher-esque tessellations.

wixie-sample-tessellation-1776

It is easy to use Wixie's paint and selection tools to create reflection, rotation, and translation tessellations. Explore more in this Tessellation Sensation lesson plan or these step-by-step directions for creating rotation and reflection tessellations.

5. Write and illustrate a fictitious interview

Crafting a fictitious interview is a fun way to connect students with the stories or informational content they are learning. For example, students could interview a person from history, an animal, a character from a book, or even a historic artifact or structure.

Because the answers they create for their interviewee are in the first person, it is difficult to simply copy and paste facts. To be interesting and effective, students must empathize with and personify the person, place, or thing they are interviewing. 

Rather than answering the questions you provide, require students to develop the interview questions themselves to gain practice in inquiry. This also helps you evaluate how well they understand the big ideas behind the facts they find. 

6. Change minds with a public service announcement

Students want to see how the content and skills they are learning in the classroom connect to the world around them. Combine their budding skills as informational and argumentative writers with their passions, by asking students to craft public service announcements that raise awareness, inform, and change behavior on topics like conservation, health, and social issues.

To create effective messages, students must: research thoroughly, identify fact versus opinion, develop claims and the evidence to back them, and consider their audience. Creating a PSA also requires students to practice skills in all four dimensions of the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

  • Dimension 1. Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries
  • Dimension 2. Applying Disciplinary Concepts and Tools
  • Dimension 3. Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence
  • Dimension 4. Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action

Since Wixie works online, student work is published instantly. Simply share student work in Wixie by including the project URL in an email or tweet or by embedding the project in your classroom web page.

Nothing builds student capacity like a blank screen

Transfer responsibility for learning to students as they use Wixie's canvas and tools to demonstrate learning and share ideas. As they grow in their abilities, push them to share their knowledge and ideas to better their communities and change the world. A blank screen can empower your learners.

 

Topics: creativity, Wixie

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