This is a guest post with Heidi Shorter, a Technology Teacher with Howard County Schools in Maryland. We asked her to collaborate on this blog to showcase the ideas she shared in her Wixie Webinar last school year.
Voice and choice may simply seem to be the latest “buzz-words” in education but they are showing up in quality classrooms around the nation and around the world… and for good reason. Employing voice and choice makes learning more authentic for all.
When students are active participants in learning, their progress and growth increases. Voice and student choice gives students ownership of their learning. This ownership provides value to the student. When they see value in learning, engagement increases. It is this active engagement that leads to the learning that we all strive for with our students.
In my 30+ years of teaching, I have found Wixie to be one of the best platforms to foster this voice and choice. Wixie’s open canvas for creativity allows my students to share in so many different ways. It has become my natural platform to encourage their voice and choice and meet the demands of my digital natives.
We want our students to be active agents in their own learning, taking ownership and responsibility. Wixie provides them with so many different tools to showcase their learning, making “multiple means of expression” accessible to all our learners.
From backgrounds to brush strokes, from clip art to spray paints, the options for images and nonlinguistic representations in Wixie are endless. Most of our students choose how they want to combine these imaging options with text, voice, and video to create a canvas that is as unique as each student!
Even when we assign a template to all students in Wixie, we can structure student work to be open-ended so that the resulting student work can still be driven by the learner. For example, our first-grade students recently created their own version of Dayle Ann Dodds’s Shape of Things.
Select an image above to listen and view the entire project.
Some students created detailed illustrations with backgrounds, text, and voice recording. Other students chose more simple drawings combined with a video of themselves reading their story. While we structured the template we assigned so that student work would use the pattern in the story, the results of student's efforts weren't limited and were almost all unique!
When students can add recordings to explain their thinking and/or videos to show what they know, their voice becomes an integral part of their learning. Yes, this is a literal use of the definition of student voice, but using the video and audio components of Wixie provides our teachers with the opportunity to hear from each and every student.
No matter how hard teachers work to be sure to include and hear from every student, there can and will be certain obstacles that can get in the way. When students can record in private, our teachers can hear from the students who typically won't take a risk when others are around, even though they have much to share and contribute. Wixie's voice and video options provide these students an opportunity to be heard as much as the student who is always speaking out.
Combining their voice with choice as to how to best demonstrate their learning helps our students become equal partners in the learning process. Wixie's open-ended nature and multiple tools for self-expression mean each student's work ends up as a unique reflection of who they are, building creative confidence and powerful digital-age communication skills.
Voice and choice... for teachers too!
In addition to students choosing and using the range of tools in Wixie, teachers can use them too! For example, you can model digital-age communication skills for your students by using Wixie to create custom classroom posters, seating charts, and stationery, as well as instructional materials like readers, eBooks, and book trailers.
You can also design and share your own instructional materials. If you don't have the time to create every assignment from scratch, take advantage of Wixie's vast library of pre-made curriculum templates and simply search and assign. You can even assign a range of choice boards from the Wixie Template Library!
Each template is ready to go or ready for a slight tweak from teachers. And as a bonus, new templates are being added all of the time. Wow! Voice and choice for teachers AND students? Now THAT is a platform that foster’s support and learning for all!
Get started using Wixie to give your students voice and choice!
If you haven’t used Wixie, try it! You will not be disappointed. In fact, I predict the opposite. You will wonder how you ever taught without such an amazing program. You will relish in what your students choose and how they share their voice and knowledge in so many creative ways!
If you already use Wixie, consider growing in your use of Wixie for yourself and your students by completing the process to become a Wixie Certified Educator. You not only explore new features, but improve your instruction as you write, design, and deploy a creative project in your classroom.
Imagine the possibilities. It is, of course, your choice.