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2020

After spending a social distancing week at home trying to work a full-time job and act as primary caregiver for my two young daughters, I was exhausted. Despite my fatigue, catching my four-year-old, Addy, in a middle-of-the-night YouTube Kids binge watching session forced me to realize that I needed to do more. I’d spent the week relying on toys and screens to keep my girls occupied while I tried to work. As a former educator, my preschooler’s budding addiction to her device gnawed at me—I should be doing more to foster Addy’s learning and development during the day! However, I also felt profoundly guilty knowing that I’d neglected some of my work obligations and responsibilities throughout the week. I felt like I was in a daily battle trying to balance work and parenting only to find at the end of each day that I was—at best—barely mediocre at both. I needed something to change, and I knew I’d have to find some creative solutions. 

 

I began my search for a solution. Over the last week, many of my coworkers had shared a variety of educational live-streams and a slew of available online resources. While grateful for the resources, I also felt overwhelmed looking at all of them. So many of them would require a significant amount of my own involvement and/or a screen to take advantage of. Instead, I knew that I needed to find Addy a variety of activities that were primarily self-directed and that didn’t require screen time. I also wanted to provide activities she could do with her fourteen-month-old sister Elie that would foster their friendship and to encourage cooperation and play. 

 

That weekend I took a break from the house to get some essentials at the grocery store. Before checking out with my milk and toilet paper, I stopped in the book section, looking for some kind of… something… anything that would help me figure out how to better manage the coming week at home. I stumbled upon some pre-kindergarten workbooks and an idea started to form. I added a few workbooks to my cart and headed to checkout. I remember the distinct feeling of encouragement I felt on the drive back home.

 

Sunday night, I pulled out the workbooks and started planning. I prepped five days’ worth of worksheet activities, carefully paperclipping each stack to stay organized. Worksheets would only keep my Addy entertained for so long. And, let’s be honest, despite my equivocations to the contrary, the worksheets were busywork. What more could I do to keep Addy and Elie meaningfully engaged?

 

I went to the bookshelf and gathered a few books. Addy can read to her sister, I told myself. 

 

I’d read somewhere that tape and pipe cleaners could occupy kids for hours. I didn’t have pipe cleaners, but I did have plenty of tape and some bendy straws! 

 

I then went to Addy’s art supplies and selected a coloring sheet and collected her paints. She loves to paint, and we can mail the picture to her grandma. 

 

My next stop was the toy bin, where I thoughtfully selected a toy that both Addy and Elie could enjoy together. 

Finally, I grabbed the duster from among the cleaning supplies. Addy loves to dust! I bet Elie will enjoy this too!

 

I gathered everything in a box, all the necessary materials and supplies. I then created an index card checklist and clearly indicated that Addy’s reward for completing all of the activities would be screen time. Addy’s Adventure Box was born! 

 

Addy's Adventure Box

 

That Monday morning, I reviewed the activities with Addy over breakfast. She spent the morning happily painting and playing with her sister while I worked and had meetings. By lunchtime, Addy hadn’t asked for her screen. By nap time (for Elie), Addy was still working on her Adventure Box. By 2pm, Addy had completed Adventure Box items and earned screen time.

 

The Adventure Box has now become a whole thing at our house. For the past week, Addy wakes up and during breakfast she and I walk through the Adventure Box activities. She spends the morning working on her box activities. And, if she’s earned it after midday rest time, she gets screen time. Over the weekend I was even scolded for not prepping an Adventure Box for her. What did I expect her to do all day?!

 

Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t all been roses and unicorns. (See the 30-minute tantrum Addy threw on Thursday while I was in a team meeting.) I noticed some fatigue, and some of the activities are duds. The worksheets are more of a chore (and usually the last thing completed). But screen time is down, my children play well together, I can (sort of) focus on work, and I feel slightly more settled about how I’m managing my time at work and my time as a parent throughout the day. 

 

As an added bonus, I spent some time last week researching educational apps and found a few apps that I downloaded onto Addy’s iPad.  She loves the Reading Eggs Math Seeds game, as well as the DuoLingo ABC app. Often her afternoons are spent learning about numbers and practicing sight words in an app instead of watching inane cartoons and videos on YouTube, Netflix, or Disney+. (Though, there is still plenty of inane cartoon watching. It’s just significantly less these days.) 

 

Through it all, I’ve shared my wins and misses with my wonderful work community. We ask one another questions, provide support, share ideas, set up kid Zoom meetings, and laugh (and sometimes cry) about how things are going in this new work-from-home and work-from-home-with-kids world. 

 

If you’re like me, still adjusting to these crazy new circumstances, maybe even a work-from-home-with-kids parent, I hope you’re finding the encouragement you need to keep going. I’d also invite you to leave a comment below about your own at-home adventures, share your successes and/or failures, and contribute to the collaborative and supportive Community we enjoy here.

Teacher Appreciation 2020

 

Dear Dr. Nancy Richmond,

 

 

My Twitter feed has been pretty sour lately with coronavirus this, COVID19 that, and strained learning professionals, eager to help as many people as they can. However, due to your Social Media Marketing class there has been an influx of FIU Panther support and positive vibes during a challenging time. Thank you for encouraging your students to make videos that help our learning community come together in this time of distancing.

 

You're the real VIP (very important Panther)!

 

 

 

Thank You Sincerely,

Sky V. King
FIU Online, Senior Instructional Designer

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Teacher Appreciation 2020

 

Dear Colby,

 

On Friday, March 13th, at 4:00 the Governor of the State of Utah announced that all K-12 schools would be immediately closed for two weeks in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 within our state. Governor Herbert also announced that online learning would continue beginning the following Wednesday, March 18th. This gave educators and districts a weekend and two working days to convert their curriculum so it could be delivered online, with Canvas chosen as the centralized location for all classes across our school district. Within a weekend, you had created clear, step-by-step instructions for our entire faculty to use to get started on Canvas. You made instructional videos, visited individual classrooms, and hosted workshops for all faculty members on various aspects of Canvas. I wanted you to know that this did not go unnoticed!

 

In a time of uncertainty and chaos, you became our "fourth administrator". You answered endless questions and provided individualized instruction to teachers with all different levels of technology expertise. This was especially difficult because you had your own online courses to develop, but instead, you spent time with other teachers so that their students could have meaningful online instruction as well. You were a calming and supportive member of our faculty when you were most needed. Colby Hawkins, you're a rockstar!

 

 

Thank You (You're the Best!),

 

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Teacher Appreciation 2020

 

Dear Pike Township Schools,

 

These are strange times we're in, unprecedented in so many ways. What isn't strange or unprecedented, however, is the dedication, creativity, and perseverance of the community of Pike Township schools in Indianapolis, Indiana. Trying to single out one person to appreciate would be like trying select the most beautiful spring flower or loveliest warm spring day. They are all using their wit, wisdom, and, now, Canvas to keep the lights shining in the lives of our students and community. 

 

Thank you to the teachers who had to transition their classroom prowess to the Canvas online platform. Your kind and personal videos, images, and messages to students make it a pleasure to click into your Canvas courses. The way you are embracing the online environment as a conduit to stay connected to your students is inspirational! By connecting virtually through Canvas conferences, video announcements, and personal messages, you are maintaining the classroom community and structure that our students are desperately missing right now. I know that you didn't sign up to be a full-time online teacher and that the technology is new and sometimes frustrating. You are doing such a great job of modeling grit and flexibility for our kids. Seriously, thank you. 

 

Thank you to our school counselors and social workers, special education professionals, physical and occupational therapists, and other support staff. You are finding so many ways to continue to reach out to our most vulnerable learners and keep them connected and supported. Those Canvas videos you make and share lift us all up! Creating school-wide Canvas announcements with virtual spirit days, motivational moments, and powerful reminders to keep going are not only helping the students, they are helping all of us! Thank you for reaching out to the students and staff via Canvas messages and announcements so they know when the Pike food pantry is open and the locations of our meal pick ups. You are literally feeding us mind, body, and soul. Seriously, thank you. 

 

Thank you to our school librarians. The depth of my appreciation knows no bounds when it comes to the literacy and technology support our Pike school librarians provide to our staff, students, and families. Utilizing the integration of our Destiny Library system into every Canvas course in the district, you have provided a portal into the best online resources, extensive library of on-demand eBooks and audio-books, and opportunities to inquire, wonder, and explore learning online from the safety of our homes. You are keeping us logged in, connected, and fully stocked with virtual field trips, STEM experiments, author visits, and, of course, reading material! The indispensable global nature of libraries is on full display with the Pike librarians. Seriously, thank you. 

 

Finally, thank you to our students and families. This work and learn from home situation is not ideal, but you are doing it. You are using our Canvas courses as not only a place for your kids to learn, but to find ways to help them learn. I have had the opportunity to work with many families as they set up their Canvas Parent accounts. Parents, siblings, families, I appreciate you as partners in this online teaching endeavor. I know you didn't sign up to be full-time teachers to your kids, but you're doing a great job. Your kids will remember these weeks with you for the rest of their lives. We all will. Seriously, thank you. 

 

I'm sure you can see why I can't single out just one educator during this unexpected time of innovation and creative problem solving. My appreciation isn't finished, I could go on about our administrators, technology team, facilities team, and all the other amazing people trying to make sure our Pike Township students are safe, healthy, well-fed, and well-taught during this time. Canvas has been an unbelievable asset to our efforts, and, therefore, I am also thankful for all the Canvas folks who help us keep the lights of learning turned on. I am humbled by the daily efforts of so many. Seriously, thank you. 

 

Seriously, Thank You (You're the Best!),

Lena Darnay

District Instructional Technology Specialist

Pike Township Schools, Indianapolis, Indiana

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Teacher Appreciation 2020

 

 

 

Dear Terri Spisso,

 

           I want it to be clear that you are a super-special educator who is providing continuity and stability through innovation. You're making a difference! Throughout this time when all of Rhode Island is switching to Remote Learning, all students and educators rapidly moving everything online you have been one of the few unsung heroes who has continuously offered assistance and guidance. Your calm demeanor has allowed for clear and precise support when hundreds are asking questions. You have shown, yet again, that you go above and far beyond the call of duty to serve those around you and that you persistently make the world a better place by just your being you! 

            The Foster-Glocester Regional District is incredibly lucky to have you as a member of staff as you are knowledgable, eager, and evolving in your field. With everything that is rapidly changing one thing has stayed the same. You care about everyone and you always are there for help...

 

"Some people make the world go 'round. Thank you for being one of those people."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You (You're the Best!),

Mr. David Glasberg

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Teacher Appreciation 2020

 

 

 Dear Prof. Pareja and Dr. Sengupta,

 

In a very short period of time, I have witnessed how you have re-defined the term Champion, and have gone above and beyond helping your colleagues at FIU College of Business as you designed and implemented a 4 step plan to support them and shared it as well so everyone can benefit from it:

  1. Making sure any user who requires assistance has been provided a functional basic shell by copying a simplistic template created by our College.
  2. Provide short and simple topic oriented video guides for our faculty to see and review if necessary.
  3. Located additional departmental champions who are willing to assist users with more in depth processes.
  4. Provide remote technical assistance to our faculty 6 days a week.

You can be sure that you're making a difference!

 

 

 

Thank You (You're the Best!),

Lili Steiner

Senior Instructional Designer

FIU Online 

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Teacher Appreciation 2020

 

 

 

Dear Dr. Bowman,

 

Dr. Martha Bowman is my daughter's 8th grade science teacher in the Monroe County Community School Corporation in Bloomington, Indiana. The students and teachers are only on their second day of distance learning but I love how Dr. Bowman has integrated video of herself talking to the students about this new learning experience in announcements and is using the discussion forums in Canvas for the first time. She has asked the students to give her feedback about how things are going and is acting on that feedback. For example, she made some changes to when certain assignments would be released based on student communication with her. I really appreciate Dr. Bowman trying new things in Canvas to keep the students engaged, informed, and connected to the learning community.

 

 

 

 

Thank You (You're the Best!),

Chris Hitchcock

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Renee Carney

Educators, We See You!

Posted by Renee Carney Administrator Mar 26, 2020

In the face of disruption and uncertainty, educators are finding ways to provide continuity and stability through innovation. Some are reaching out directly to their students, some are lifting and educating other teachers, some are sharing their brilliance with anyone in the world—and some are doing all of these. If you’re in education, you’ve surely been influenced/inspired by an educator who has gone above and beyond in the current circumstances.


We love opportunities to celebrate our Community, so please help us by writing a letter to an educator whom you see making a difference! We'll sweeten the pot by providing an opportunity for you and your “appreciated educator” to each win one of 20 Amazon gift cards.

 

 

Here’s how to write your “Educator Appreciation” letter:

  • Log into community.canvaslms.com (Login Directions)
  • Access the “Dear Educator” template
  • Write a letter to the educator you appreciate. Tell us what they’re doing to make a difference in education right now. Have fun with it!
  • Share the letter on Twitter using the hashtag #CanvasFAM by 11:59 PM MST on Friday, April 17, 2020 for a chance for you and your appreciated educator to each win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (20 gift cards are up for grabs).

    So, from all of us at Instructure, thanks for being the best Community ever.

 

 

 

Read more stories

Enjoy the #CanvasFAM Twitter feed

Tl;dr status.instructure.com now includes a link to a per-instance historical status update.

 

The Canvas status page lives at status.instructure.com and tells Canvas users if all systems are running fine, or if Canvas is currently experiencing issues. We are excited to announce two recent updates to the status page to improve your experience.  

 

Historical Data

Before now, you probably visited the page to get a current snapshot of the status of Canvas, but the content contained no historical information. Now you can see how Canvas has fared over time.  Note that this historical data goes back to last December but will accumulate over time and eventually serve as a replacement for the Canvas Uptime Graphic currently found one the What is Canvas? page.

 

Custom Reports

The previous status page not only displayed one snapshot in time but also reported any problem for anyone using Canvas anywhere in the world. This approach used to make more sense when fewer people used Canvas and they were mainly logging in from the same geographic area. However, as the Canvas user base has grown and the way people use Canvas has become more complicated, having access to only a global status has become less useful. Going forward you can still see the overall Canvas status, but you can also enter your Canvas URL to see a custom report for just your account, including historical uptime information as well.

 

We hope that you like these improvements to the status page. This is V.1 of the new custom report with more improvements planned.  Please share any questions or comments you may have below.

 

 

Have a great day!

 

Scott Dennis | Sr.Dir. Community Engagement

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