Wixie has been part of daily classroom instruction at Anne Arundel County since 2015. When Anne Arundel County Public School began its elearning at home program in April due to COVID-19, teachers, students, and parents were able to immediately take advantage of digital assignments that had already been created and aligned to the district's curriculum.
Students were familiar with using Wixie in their classrooms, so using it at home simply meant logging in and using a familiar tool in a new location. Debbie Ray, Elementary School Instructional Technology Specialist shares, "No matter where they are, our students love being able to show their learning in different ways through drawing, writing, images, storytelling. Much to our delight, we found they also loved teaching their parents how to use this great application."
Since beginning their Wixie subscription, Tech Connections writers, led by the Instructional Technology Team at Anne Arundel, have been customizing the activities in Wixie to align with the county curriculum. For each subject and unit, they created a series of Wixie assignments teachers can use for skills practice and assessment.
"We used the authoring tools in Wixie to create assignments based on the units in our reading and math programs as well as science, social studies, ESOL and even robotics," explains Ray. "Because of Wixie’s ease-of-use, our Tech Connections writers not only utilized the templates in Wixie's curriculum library, they created many of them from scratch to fit with the needs of our district."
"Wixie made it easy to take tasks from our existing curriculum that had involved physically sorting, matching, writing, or gaming into a digital space. Teachers could use templates created by the central office and use them as-is or modify and assign them to students throughout the last two marking periods," explains Lindsay O'Keefe, NBCT and Resource Teacher in the Office of Elementary Reading and Integrated Literacy. “Wixie allowed teachers to provide specific feedback and reteaching to students based on the Wixie assignments."
"While it took a while to integrate Wixie with Google Classroom for seamless use by our teachers and families,” shares Kristin Addleman, another NBCT and Resource Teacher in the Office of Elementary Reading and Integrated Literacy, “we appreciated that Wixie provided an equitable space for all of our students to work, helping us to successfully meet our district's 'no need to print' mandate."
As a result, Wixie has been used extensively during elearning at home throughout grades K-5. "Prior to the school closure, I used Wixie in my 1st-grade classroom regularly. This comfort and familiarity with Wixie was great for them as they transitioned to learning at home. They already knew how to use the platform, and many were excited to teach their family, "shares Alane Connolly, first-grade teacher in Anne Arundel. “The first Wixie from home my students completed was ‘Just For Fun!’ where they drew, wrote, and/or recorded their voices to tell me what they had been up to since the last time we were together. It was wonderful to hear their voices and see their creativity."
Other teachers had similar experiences. "Using Wixie allowed me to assign graphic organizers and templates to my students virtually. Work could be assigned to everyone in my class or I could make decisions and differentiate the assignments to meet the needs of specific students," explains Kim Beasley, a 4th grade teacher at Bodkin Elementary. "I was able to see the students' work at all stages from the beginning to completion of the assignment. Wixie automatically organized assignments by each student in my class, so it was easy to keep track of their work. There was no need to look for lost papers or missing assignments, because everything was in one place."
Anne Arundel students also used Wixie to produce creative, original work during at-home learning. Alane Connelly shares, "My favorite project they completed was to invent something to help our Monarch Butterfly garden at school. It was hard to imagine how this project would work virtually- how could they create something for a garden they were not able to visit and explore? However, I was able to upload a picture of our very overgrown garden, and their inventions to help solve this problem were so creative!"
Wixie also allowed students and teachers to feel connected. Mayo Elementary Kindergarten teacher Suzanne Jones explains, "my kids would draw me pictures and just leave me notes in their Wixie account, like 'I miss you.' It was not only sweet... it gave us an opportunity to communicate in a different setting that was personal and it supported the emotional piece we were missing when not face to face."
Teachers, students, and parents in Anne Arundel were excited about the use of Wixie and asked about its availability over the summer. "It is rewarding for us to see students still logging in and creating!” shares Ray. “We are looking forward to continuing with Wixie in the fall, no matter the learning environment under quarantine."