Editor's Note: In this guest blog post, Kevin Rickard, an Instructional Technology Specialist, in Virginia Beach, shares his story of helping his teachers and students use Wixie in their classrooms.
When I first started with my district, we used Pixie in our computer labs. As time progressed, we moved to the cloud so student learning could be anytime, anywhere. Our district quickly made the jump to Wixie, the online version of Pixie, and I started looking for my first adopters.
My art teacher had been eager to move into the digital realm, so I thought it would be easy to get him to bring him on board. I figured that as soon as he saw familiar paint tools and additional options like the symmetry tool, along with the ability to create assignments and provide feedback on student work, he would instantly make the leap.
But I just couldn’t get him to take that first bite and meet with me. Other teachers were also reluctant to jump in.
So, to provide an incentive and ideas for all those who were not going to jump in with a good reason, I started a Wonder Wall at the front entrance where I posted student work for parents and teachers to see on their way into school. I shared artwork that students created with Wixie during our DOT Day celebrations and made sure to include student work from multiple classrooms and subjects.
I even focused a couple of my tech newsletters on Wixie projects to show everyone its capabilities and to make sure teachers knew I was available to help them get started. Things progressed, but slowly.
This year, out of the blue, that reluctant art teacher came to me excited. He had tried Wixie with a few classes and it had been a huge hit.
I had just gotten a large touch screen monitor, and the art teacher asked to use it in his room for a lesson on Van Gogh. He brought two students down to see the panel because they had been picked to demonstrate to the class. I logged in to Wixie and turned one of the students loose on the board. Kamryn’s work after only 15 minutes was amazing!
This reluctant art teacher was now totally sold. Shortly after, he used Wixie for a Cityscapes assignment and soon there were several examples of his student's work featured on the Wonder Wall.
I asked him what got him to make the leap? He said he saw a few projects on the wall and was inspired to try it in his classroom. When he did, his students were excited as they created in Wixie, and that did it. Wixie allowed even his youngest students to be creative with different brush strokes, options, and features.
The hardest part for me was realizing I had to let my teachers take that first bite. My teachers were hesitant to start using Wixie because they needed proof that their initial risk would be worth it. They didn’t feel they could afford to use their precious instructional time to teach students a new tool. When they saw that students were already familiar with Wixie, and that it could be used in different ways and different classrooms, it started to make sense. Student's excitement when using Wixie helped too!
So, how can you get your teachers to take that first bite? Do your best to present ideas, and then let teachers come to their own conclusions and come to you. While you may be excited to use a new digital tool, you have a better chance of winning over teachers if you don’t tell them they need to use it. Provide them with a vision, or visions, that show how this tool will enrich what they are already doing in their classroom. And make sure they know how you can help them meet their vision with Wixie.
It isn't easy to start a brand new program. But, once teachers see how engaged and successful their students are, they will be much more inclined to take the next steps. And, in doing so, you will become the guide on the side as they take their next exciting bites with you.