By the end of a normal school day, teachers are tired. During a pandemic? Beyond exhausted. If you are supporting teachers during this time, make sure their time spent for professional learning:
- provides immediate resources to implement
- makes future instructional planning easier
- avoids a one-size fits all approach
And don’t forget the fun!
Here are a few strategies, along with corresponding content ideas, you can use to make your Wixie workshops engaging and useful.
1 - K.I.S.S. (Keep it super simple)
If you have a short time frame, or are training immediately after school lets out, keep the content light and focus on creativity and play.
For example, you might ask everyone to create a custom profile image in Wixie. The profile image shows in the upper right corner of a user’s Wixie home and authoring page and, by default, is a grey circle with their initials. Profile images also show next to student names in your Wixie teacher dashboard, so unique versions make finding student work easier.
While still a one-size-fits all approach, the resulting images are always unique representations of each user and demonstrate how a single task can still support originality and creativity. In addition to giving users a chance to explore and practice the paint tools, it also provides an opportunity to learn and practice the process students can use to open templates on their own as well as demonstrate how to assign a template to students so they easily get started working.
Connect skills to curriculum by working together to brainstorm ideas for classroom projects that use the same template or skills. For example, if you painted on a blank page to create an image, students could use the same paint tool skills to design a scientific diagram or showcase the setting of a story. If you started from the Profile Image template (SHOW IMAGE), you could use the same template to design a commemorative medal, or a kindness sticker.
Learn more about getting students started designing custom profile images here.
2 - Match a specific instructional or curriculum need
Teachers want and need training that provides specific ideas, strategies, and skills they can implement immediately to improve student learning. This is easy if you work with a small group of teachers in a focused PLC (professional learning community). For example, help teachers use Wixie to create classroom projects like:
- Cartouche (social studies in primary)
- Character trait cluster (reading in elementary)
- Bio poem (writing and SEL in middle school)
After using a template, have participants browse and search the templates library to find activities that match the curriculum and learning goals they have for their students. When they find a template they like, they can choose Customize to add it to their My Projects folder for easy assigning and customizing.
If you are tasked with training an entire staff, try something like vocabulary-building. Wixie supports vocabulary-building with a dual-coding approach and helps students retain and recall. Wixie also provides a range of ways to explore and build vocabulary, so educators can generally find an approach that matches their experience.
Start by showcasing a range of vocabulary-building ideas for Wixie. Have participants log in to their Wixie accounts and type the word "vocabulary" in the search field at the top to find templates and activities already contained in Wixie's curriculum library. They can also start from a blank page to create visual presentations of antonyms, homophones, and idioms. You can also share the vocabulary choice board with participants.
Wixie includes over 20 choice and ideas boards for topics like comprehension, number sense, art, and social-emotional learning. After sharing a choice board, ask teachers to select and complete one of the templates to create a high-quality example they can use to inspire students and better understand the work students need to do to complete the activity.
3 - Match Wixie to a classroom routine
If you have teachers at your site who have successfully integrated Wixie, ask them to lead a range of center options so that participants can cycle through or choose which to explore. Use centers to have these power users share the ways they have used video, taken advantage of virtual manipulatives for math, or reached their language learners with Wixie. Take time at the end to have all participants share their favorite Wixie center ideas so you can spread learning throughout the group.
You can also have participants rotate through stations for a progressive approach to a single skill, such as designing your own template or differentiating instruction with Wixie.
Place your learners at centers based on experience and disposition. Start those new to technology or needing additional assistance at a tutorial station or working with you. Teachers with experience can start at the practice and apply stations and may even be able to offer support for others, which again models what you hope will happen with students during station rotations.
You could also start everyone together to teach a new skill and then use three stations, so you can both support those needing additional help and push those who have already excelled at independent application.
The Wixie Templates library includes thousands of standards-based activities you can assign to students. Many of these are leveled, but many are not. Wixie makes it easy to both create and customize assignments, so ask teachers to find an activity students can use to explore, practice, or apply skills. Ask them to make three copies of the file and differentiate the work students will do so that the assignment includes additional supports for those approaching expectations as well as extensions and challenges for students exceeding grade level expectations.
Students love creating with technology, so assign a fun Wixie activity to get students ready to work at the beginning of class. For example, you can assign a template that is a quick practice or review of a skill learned the day before.
If you search “bell ringer” in Wixie, you can find games like sudoku and other fun activities that expand creativity and get students thinking. Use a “build words” template to get students building their vocabulary or a writing prompt to foster the day’s discussion.
You might also ask students to use Wixie to keep a daily journal. Let them choose what they want to write about each day or put a prompt on the board for them to use. Students simply launch Wixie, open their journal, and add or duplicate a page to begin writing.
You could even open a Wixie survey on your white board. When students come into class, they can add their tally mark to share their experience or opinion. Again, use this as an opportunity to foster debate among students before class begins or as an entire class when you are ready to begin a lesson.
Model giving learners agency
Students and teachers want to have choice and control of their own learning. Wixie can be used to meet so many different content targets, skills practice, and digital-age communication, so try giving your teachers a range of options they can choose.
If you want to ensure they have basic Wixie skills, share a link to tutorials and activities they can do on their own, such as these Wixie:
Make a copy of these documents to customize for your learners or use them as a model to create your own versions.
Integration choice board
Great use of Wixie does not happen by simply knowing how to use the software. Great use happens when it is effectively integrated into classroom instruction to improve student learning. Your teachers are likely at different levels of experience and expertise with instruction and technology.
Use a choice board, like this Wixie PD P.A.R.T.Y., to give teachers agency in deciding how they can best spend their professional learning time.
Simply share the URL to this multipage project with your teachers. When they find an idea they want to use, they simply need to select the option and log in to begin building in Wixie. Make a copy of this multi-page template (File menu>Make a Copy or open from Templates>Teachers) so you can customize it to meet your site goals.
Wixie Certified Educator Program
Once educators know how to use Wixie, encourage them to apply their skills and write their own Wixie curriculum. The Wixie Certified Educator Program is designed to help educators apply and demonstrate proficiency with Wixie integration and provides a structured option for self-paced instruction.
During the certification process, educators create a high-quality example using the Wixie authoring tools, write a lesson for Wixie at Webb's Depth of Knowledge 2 or higher, use Wixie’s assessment tools to design a rubric or checklist and develop a high-quality example of what a complete project looks like.
When they have completed the building process, educators submit their work to be reviewed by Tech4Learning staff. If projects, lessons, rubrics, and samples meet the criteria, teachers are awarded a badge and certificate.
While it is obvious that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't effective, there are so many right ways to build teacher capacity. You may want to employ several of these strategies throughout the year and maybe even use a different strategy with different groups of educators depending on your needs and goals. Best wishes for professional learning that is fun, engaging, and effective!