As the 2022-2023 school year has started, educators once again are facing more challenges than ever- teacher shortages plague almost all districts and teachers have more demands placed on them than ever before. But amidst of all these challenges, there is a light that we need to kindle- connection. I don't know about you but this year has been the closest to normal that we have had in many years. What do I mean by that? Simple, we can connect with our students again in ways that were not possible in the past few years. We can see our students' smiles more and more, students can sit together and are no longer apart, and the hugs, high fives, and handshakes are back. This gives me a hope and a connection with my students that I had been missing. 

Introducing The ABCs of Transforming Learning

With all of the things that can overwhelm us, we need to be strategic and focused. For those of you who are in my TannenbaumTech mailing list, you read last week how I needed to revisit my goals and find a better way to manage my workload. Want to learn more and join my mailing list, click Join the TannenbaumTech mailing list. When I thought about how to do this, going back to basics kept going through my mind and  from that thought, the ABCs of Transforming Learning were created. Last week,  I started at A for Amplifying Student Voice in the bimonthly newsletter. This blog post highlights ways and applications that you can use to better amplify your students' voices and focuses on two of my favorite applications: Wixie and Book Creator and how they promote Universal Design for Learning.

A= Amplify Student Voice and How Universal Design for Learning Does That

Have you heard about Universal Design for Learning (UDL)? If not, it is a must know. We all need to design learning experiences that meet the needs of all of our learners and UDL does just that.  It provides suggestions or means to design learning experiences that have increased engagement, representation and action and expression. As educators create experiences for learning that use these guidelines, we ensure that ALL of our students have access to first engage with the content that is accessible to them and later to share their learning using a variety of response methods. All of our students come with their unique gifts and challenges and when we use this framework, we design with our students at the forefront of our minds. 

The two tech tools that I will highlight below make this even easier. They amplify student voice by giving our students increased access to both accessing and sharing content inside of our learning communities. 

How Wixie Highlights UDL and Amplifies Student Voice

If you have ever read my blog before, you know what a Wixie fan I am.  That's because of the opportunities  that Wixie provides our students. First of all,  students can respond in multiple ways. They can use text (now including speech to text), use paint tools to draw, images, and/or add video or audio to any project to share their learning. In addition, Wixie also allows educators to record directions and has text to speech and will read any text to students. Educators can also include their own videos in a Wixie project to help students access the information.  

None of the options above would be possible without students using this program. For example, while learning about being a super digital citizen this month, fourth grade students first watched a Common Sense Media video and then completed a Color, Symbol, Image using Wixie. They identified a color, a symbol and an image to share their understanding of what it means to be a Super Digital Citizen. Then, they got to choose one of the five ways listed above to share why they chose what they did. As always, I was astounded by the amazing artifacts of learning our students can create in Wixie.

How Book Creator Highlights UDL and Amplifies Student Voice

Book Creator is a newer tech tool in my toolbox. In all honesty, I started exploring it as I planned for the August Professional Development in Cypress Fairbanks since Wixie was not currently approved in their district, but it quickly won me over, especially with its accessibility features. It has come a long way and I could not write a post about amplifying student voice without including it. Like Wixie, it gives our students so many great ways to access and share their learning. Students can respond with images, use drawing tools, add audio or video and add text.  Book Creator allows students to use text to speech while using text and searching for images as well. In Read Mode, it allows reads all text to students. But its newest update has gotten me even more excited, you can now add video, audio or text comments to a Book Creator project for students. I could not love this more as it also gives educators the option to comment back as well. What a fabulous way to give students feedback and engage them in continuous learning.

I can't wait to give this new tech tool a spin this year, but so far, I have not. Look for how I integrate Book Creator into my lessons in a future post. Don't worry- it won't be very long until I do.

Want to try these tools out for FREE!

I would love to hear how you use these tools to amplify your students' voices. These two tools are by no means the only tools that amplify students voices, but two of my favorites. 

Would you like to try one or both of these tools out for a test drive? Subscribe to my mailing list using the form to the right and get all the details. (If you are already on my mailing list, no worries- expect an email from me today with all the details.) I can't wait to see how you use these tools.  A special thank you goes out to both Tech4 Learning and Book Creator for offering these promotions to my mailing list and blog community,

Step 1: Try them out.

Step 2: Tweet all about it and use the #ABCsofTransformingLearning and #transform and tag me @TannenbaumTech.