"I love the sweet, expectant nothingness of an empty page."
- Peter H. Reynolds
Wixie is a digital canvas that students can use to combine their writing, their voice, and their art. Wixie gives 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 click the New button at their Wixie home page and choose the orientation they would like to use.
If your students use the primary interface, they will see a + button the top of their home page and their project will automatically open in landscape mode.
Here are nine ideas for Wixie projects that will get your elementary 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 phrases like:
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.
Students can add terms and definitions using the Text tool on the toolbar.
Students can use the paint tools on the Wixie palette to design original illustrations that represent meaning.
2. Illustrate word problems
Visualizing word problems can help students better identify key pieces of a problem and the relations between them. Students can easily use the paint tools in Wixie to draw models that represent the text in a word problem. Students can also use Wixie's recording tool to explain their mathematical thinking and reasoning.
Even better, ask students to use Wixie's text and imaging tools to design their own word problems. As they work to create the structure, write, and visualize the problem, they build a better understanding of how the words and their relationship represent mathematical problems.
3. Create scientific infographics
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.
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.
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.
Students can click the Image button to find and add images to support their ideas quickly.
The Wixie image library contains thousands of images, including an infographics library, students can use to quickly represent data and information.
4. Think about content with an If/But comparative report
In an If/But report, students compare things like animals, people, places, or events using a first-person narrative. For example, “If I was a polar bear, I would live on arctic ice, and you would hardly be able to see me because of my white coloring…. But I wouldn’t sit on my eggs for over a month…”
“Identifying similarities and differences” is an effective way to help students remember and understand content (Marzano et al. 2001). It also encourages deeper conceptual thinking (Webb’s Depth of Knowledge).
Starting with a blank page can be intimidating for some learners. If this is your student’s first blank screen project, you may want to have them first organize their research and thinking using the Venn Diagram available in their Wixie template library.
5. 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 students to paint with symmetry and explore additional geometric translations by creating their own Escher-esque tessellations.
We often ask students to identify linear or radial symmetry in the objects in the world around them. While this is an effective formative assessment for teachers, it isn't very exciting or engaging for students. Instead, ask students to try to paint these objects using the symmetry tools in Wixie.
To paint with symmetry, have students select the paint brush tool and use the symmetry options.
Most students will recognize the art of M.C. Escher and many can even name the artist. Capitalize on this familiarity by asking students to learn geometric transformations through the creation of their own tessellations.
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.
6. Create visual poetry
Poetry is a great way to introduce students to imagery and precise language. As a fun performance task for students to demonstrate comprehension of vocabulary, word choice, and figurative language, ask them to create visual versions of the poetry you are reading.
Have students work in teams to choose a poem, reread it, and discuss the author's use of imagery and precise language. Then, ask students to create a page in Wixie, type a single line or stanza from the poem and add images that help the viewer understand the author's intent.
Effective visual poems quickly develop into multi-page projects. Students simply click the Add Page button on the toolbar to add additional blank pages to their projects.
They can use the navigation options on the toolbar to move between pages as they are working.
7. Retell in comic form
Comics are a popular medium that can help you connect student learning to the classroom. Creating a comic strip is a great way to get students thinking about the stories or informational texts they are reading.
The limited amount of space in a comic’s panels requires students to choose the most significant points in a text or story. Comics also require students to use images to support and extend the meaning of the text they are sharing. Again, research by Marzano et al. 2001 shows that as they work to summarize and use nonlinguistic representations, students improve their recall and comprehension.
8. 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 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 questions you provide, require students to come up with 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.
9. 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 argument 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
A blank screen can be empowering to your learners, transferring responsibility for learning to students as they use Wixie's canvas and tools to demonstration 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.