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I wish my teacher knew more about the students in my class.  


In the 7th grade, I knew a student named Phoenix. Even though I hadn’t spoken to him much it was pretty clear to me that he was an at-risk student. Although he would pay attention in class, work his hardest and be punctual he would rarely get above 50%. In the 2 years I knew him, his average didn’t increase and his progress was stagnant.


It was clear Phoenix needed help, and it was clearer that help wouldn’t arrive. Why? With a staff-student ratio of 1:30 and 10 grades each teacher we had taught 300 students. No matter how hard they tried, there clearly wasn’t enough time for every teacher to spend where it was required.


From what I observed, the students that got most of the instructor’s time were those who explicitly asked for it. Those who explicitly asked for it where those who were confident in themselves or their work and were doing so to attain marginal improvement. Those who weren’t good did not explicitly ask for time, and like Phoenix didn’t largely receive any.


Last week before the final exam, Phoenix sat next to me. And we both learned something.


I observed Phoenix through all of the lectures, and his face instantly gave away signs of where he was confused (the difference between diffusion/osmosis). I also observed him do his classwork, and sure enough he was stuck at the question assessing diffusion and osmosis (hint: osmosis involves a membrane). After the class, I casually asked him about the particular question and explained the answer. He did substantially well on the test that week.


I wish my teachers knew the students in their class, as equally as in a one-to-one setting. Everyone cannot afford personal tutors, and with so much technology at our disposal it is sad we haven't solved this problem yet. 


Phoenix, unlike his name, didn't rise from the ashes. He flunked, dropped out, and subsequently disappeared. 


I wish my teacher knew more about the students in my class. I wish my teacher knew what confused Phoenix. 



I recently saw a post from 3 years ago Last Stand of the Late Adopters that discussed how it is hard to effectively connect with our colleagues who are coming late to the tech party. How do we get them up to speed effectively through professional development on to how best use an LMS? The topic is still a very real one for many schools in the K-12 scene. It seems like this group of late comers wants everything to be magical...even supernatural...think The Jetsons meets Disney World meets the Wizard of Oz. And then at the first sign of trouble...a broken link, a misplaced file...spotty WiFi and they are all out of sorts proclaiming the advent of the apocalypse at the hands of Skynet. 


So the challenge becomes how to best support this group of johnny come latelys. For what its worth, my approach has always been to show them how my life is easier because of the technology I employ!" And to help them start small!  I mean that is the definition of technology after all to make life easier. The concept of a flipped classroom can really be a break for your vocal chords. So many times I find myself up in front of my class like I'm David Blaine or some vaudevillian road act...and that can be stressful and fatiguing. As we get older it can be harder to always have some inspirational Dead Poets Society moment up our sleeve. The advantage of learning how to integrate digital media into our classrooms is that it gives you a break from the antiquated and overrated 'sage on a stage' philosophy. Now we can switch gears and get a much deserved rest from being up on stage all day every day and instead spend our time collaborating and providing individualized feedback through online quizzes and surveys or even commenting in real time on live Google Docs. We can also supplement in modules to help them become independent learners through webquests and wiki trails!.


The best work I see from my students is when I create a vision of "why" we are studying any given topic and then I let them create the "what" and the "how" we achieve it!...something I was inspired to think more closely about after watching Simon Sinek's  classic TED talk on "How great leaders inspire action" as well as Angela Lee Duckworth's talk on "Grit: the power of passion and perseverance" and lastly Christopher Emdin's "Teaching teachers magic"


Our kids deserve better and we deserve a more effective way to teach while not wearing ourselves out! Let's save our energy and make sure we can endure, because our students need educators like us in their lives. We have work to do!


So in closing, If you build it (and maintain it)...they will come: colleagues and students alike! 

Bobby Pedersen

ctrl K - you rock!

Posted by Bobby Pedersen Feb 24, 2018

Recently a colleague introduced me to ctrl K in Canvas. The magic it can do is pretty cool.

How did we get anything done without it?


For example, a friend I was working with was annoyed with how the links they had put in to their Canvas page were taking them out of Canvas. This was not the end of the world as the back arrow brought them back again BUT if they needed to fill in fields in the new site then this information would be lost on the return back to Canvas. With ctrl K we highlighted the link within the page and made the ‘Target’ become a ‘new window’. Hey presto Canvas stays where it is and the link takes the user to a new window.


Then another colleague knew that their page was way too long and required a lot of scrolling. Using ctrl K they could link to heading bookmarks on the page or create ‘top’ ‘bottom’ of page links.


This might come in handy to have it explained better. @Use Ctrl+K to insert/modify a hyperlink (instead of code) - Meta Stack Exchange 


Has anyone else got a different trick for using ctrl K?

Thank you Tina ctrl K Queen!

Jonathan Yoder

The Unknown...

Posted by Jonathan Yoder Feb 20, 2018

   Complacency can really stunt our students' growth. As teachers we try to help our students stay engaged and operating within a growth mindset. However, we don't always take that same advice. A system like Canvas can really be a thorn in many teachers' sides because we as educators often get complacent with teaching the same courses year after year. There is comfort in the known... the material is well prepared and rehearsed, but we need to be sure to stay current with changing trends and the implementation of a LMS and technology is part of that new trend in education.

   It can be very scary to think about changing your own personal "culture", but it can also be quite rewarding. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to conquer the world. Just try one new thing and really dive into it. Maybe its using the calendar options to help keep your students and parents informed of upcoming assignments and tests even if those assignments and tests are not done online. 

   Those of us who are reading this are probably among the top users at our respective institutions and as a result we have an obligation to help our colleagues who really struggle with this shift in our school culture. Canvas is great in that it really allows for true collaboration on every level! So as you evolve your courses and create new items in your courses don't forget to share that material! Your initiative will inspire your colleagues to try something new. Ultimately the goal is to spread the Canvas love and to make the unknown, known. 

Jonathan Yoder

File vs. Module

Posted by Jonathan Yoder Feb 17, 2018

   A module can be defined in several ways depending upon the context, if I were a NASA engineer it would be part of a spacecraft or if I were a scientist it might be a unit of measurement. A file on the other hand is best described as either a set of papers or data points usually found within folders. Seems quite simple really.

   However, I was recently in a town hall-style faculty meeting with my colleagues at our public high school in which we were diving deeper into our new LMS of Canvas. And since we had not been properly using our old LMS, the question came up several times throughout the day...What exactly is a file vs. a module? 


   And as I wanted to fire back with a direct response like a heat seeking missile, I fell short for a moment as I myself pondered what the heck a module was in this educational context. And then it hit me, a module is a learning opportunity. Now that could be the opportunity to gain knowledge through notes or information from the web or even from a textbook or video clip. It could also be an opportunity to show or demonstrate learning such as in a discussion posts, blog entries or even cat memes with inspirational Latin phrases and it can also be an opportunity to assess learning in a long or short term setting such as quizzes, tests, midterms and finals.


   So although a file can be a module, a module certainly is not just a file, but so much more. It's an opportunity to know more than you did before you showed up! And that is something worth investing in for our students as well as for ourselves!

The new school year has started in Australia, and the calendar is already one of the favourite features for our new high school students and parents. It has helped them get organised, understand what to bring and know what they are doing in class in advance. Flipped learning at its most basic, however very important all the same. Surprisingly, some (not many) of our students are not on social media yet and use the calendar, announcements, and Canvas messaging as their form of communication and information sources. 

It is also helping staff stay organised and communicate with colleagues as to where they are up to with lessons if they share classes.

Yet, some of the best feedback has come from parents of students with special needs - knowing what is going on prior to class helps reduce anxiety! Especially at the beginning of the year! Simple, effective and organised!

callaghancollegewallsendcampus David SUMMERVILLE

Managed to get access to the new Quizzes LTI tools and had a play. Brief thoughts so far:


Like the following a lot:

Ordering - much needed, like that you can do ordering with range of media and have full editor for Maths/Science formula

Classification - great addition, many other quiz engines have this, super for lots of things

Adding images - so very easy and simple, miles better and such less pain

Quiz Management - very easy of ordering questions, add to bank simplicity, fast to load

Looks - Smooth


Things I would like to see develop:

Matching – needs the full editor for anything useful eg maths symbols, formulas, pictures

Hot Spot – one hot spot only? Needs multiple hot spots to be effective 

Classification - would like to see the full editor here to allow grouping of images

Fill in blanks – only 1 item per question, need to have the options for many of these



Someone recently asked me what I think the most important concept is when I'm training faculty. I didn't even hesitate with my answer; instantly, it was Modules. 


I know not every faculty member uses them, and I have seen some really amazing courses - especially at the higher ed level - that use a different structure. Regardless, I remain in the camp of a well-designed Canvas course will almost always use Modules. 


Admittedly - Modules aren't always the easiest concept to impart to new Canvas users. My favorite simile is that it's like a big folder, and you can put all of the great pieces of content inside for your students to see. I always emphasize that once a student is in the Module, the huge bonus is those previous and next buttons, so they can move through the content like turning the pages of a book. We can slow them down or cause them to reflect with Requirements, and we can even use MasteryPaths to further individualize their Module progression. All of this I usually accompany with a visual tour of a Module in one of my Canvas courses, highlighting the very best use cases of the tool. 


That usually begins to clear up the Modules mystery. I also wanted to share something else I created in the last few weeks that I'm hoping further helps Modules make sense to new Canvas folks.  Feel free to use it if you think it's helpful!



Canvas Trainer/Training Team Lead - Contractors


Canvas Course Elements Infographic

I recently reconfigured what was initially a PLC reflection rubric that I utilized with history teachers (in a previous life) into a Canvas Usage Reflection rubric.


The idea was to blend the core attributes of blended learning (student control and choice) with the 4 Cs (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication) in one rubric that could serve as a reference for Canvas users, regardless of their 'level' of usage.


Once the basics were laid out, I attempted to add hyperlinks where there were beneficial, at least in my opinion.


Please feel free to download and adapt for your purposes and please share what strategies and/or resources you've utilized to empower Canvas users to own and drive their own 'next steps'. Thank you!

"We think many teachers live in their LMSes. Move a couch in, some mood lighting and flowers in that corner over there and it's practically home." 



I stumbled on this quote today and had to share. Any other pearls of wisdom out there?

I recently started using the Peer Review feature with assignments and found it to be a great way for students to edit or asses each other's work and offer feedback and suggestions. I have used it primarily in math class when I do daily review at the start of the lesson.


I post an image or a PDF of a daily review sheet from the teacher resources and set the Submission Type for Online. I tend to have them do the work in their notebook and usually set the Online type to Text. This way they just type their answers into the assignment. This cuts down on slow typing and trying to type out their work for the problem. 


After clicking the "Require Peer Review" option, you will have to decide if you want to manually or automatically assign the peer review. I have been doing this manually and assigning peers based on students that I know work well together and would feel comfortable having that person review their work. The idea of peer review with any subject is new for some students, so I want them to feel comfortable with the process and who is working with them.

When the rest of the settings for the assignment are done, you will be able to click on the Peer Review section of the menu. You can assign several peer reviews to each student, but I have only been doing one per student.



When the students are finished with their assignment, they will be able to click on the name of the peer they are assigned to and see what they have submitted. They must leave at least one comment in order to save their review and have it posted. I work with elementary students and we are still practicing netiquette and good digital citizenship. I stress to them the importance of being positive with their reviews and keeping it on-topic. For example, if all the problems are correct they simply write "All correct" in the comment section. If one answer is wrong, they write "Check #7 and submit again". 


The Peer Review feature gives students the opportunity to collaborate, review work, and explain math concepts to others in ways that might be different from mine. I hope that this feature will make students feel safe and confident with sharing their work with others. I feel that this feature is a great way to not only review and assess math concepts, but to also establish a sense of security and respect online and in the classroom.

I’ve been getting my head around how to use Canvas lately and thoroughly enjoying how intuitive it is and how crisp it looks. So, there I was feeling jolly pleased with mastering Pages and Modules, experimenting with Assignments, using Discussions and Announcements.


Somehow through all of this new learning I had managed to overlook the magic of Collaborations. Silly me! The joy I felt with creating my first shared Word doc through Canvas was huge. Thank you Alannah for showing me! The potential of Collaborations is huge for all learners involved. I can’t wait to use it more, and I can’t wait to show more of my colleagues.

@How do I create a Microsoft Office 365 collaboration as an instructor?  


As a Canvas newbie I could be missing a lot of the potential uses of Collaborations. How are others using Collaborations within their Canvas courses? I’m interested to hear how Collaborations are used in different areas of school organisations eg. Administration, Staff Professional Development, K-6 classes etc.


Ryan Corris

Autoplay a Song

Posted by Ryan Corris Nov 2, 2017
I had a Jr. High teacher ask me a great question today!  She wanted to know if it was possible to have Canvas play a celebratory song after students completed a module.  This teacher wanted to have a few seconds of "We Are the Champions" by Queen play upon successful completion of a module.  Initially I wasn't sure if it would be possible.  After thinking for a few minutes, I had an idea that ended up working.  This is what I did to make it work.  Hopefully it will work for you as well.  
I created a module and I made the music file the last item in my module.  (I would more than likely have more than two items in a module for this, but this is what I was experimenting with at the time.) 
Two item module with a music file as last item
I added the mp3 file as a file upload.  When I move to it from the previous item (in this case FlipGrid 2) the music automatically plays.
This is how I added the sound file as a file upload...
When you add a module item, select File from the drop down menu and click New File (assuming the file has not already been uploaded to your course). 
Add module item window with "File" selected.
Click Choose File, and browse for the music clip on your computer, select it, and click Open.
Then click Add Item.
If you want to make sure students do not open the music file before everything is completed, you can set requirements within the module and select the option to make sure that module items are completed in sequential order.  To do this, click on the gear to the right of the title of the module and select Edit.
  • Add requirements at the bottom of the window making sure that the music file is the last requirement.  
  • Check radio button for Students must complete all of these requirements.
  • Check the box for Students must complete all of these requirements in sequential order.
  • Then click Update Module.
Edit Module Settings window with some requirements set.
(This should make students complete every item before being able to access the music file.  When they access the music file, it should open a page and play automatically.)
My items in this module only have the option to set the requirement to View the item. There are other completion options for various items such as...
  • submitting for an assignment
  • replying to a discussion
  • scoring at or above a minimum score (set by teacher) on quizzes or other graded items
  • etc.


For more information on setting requirements in modules see How do I add requirements to a module?

It is always fun to find new ways to do things and make things work in Canvas.  If you use this idea, I would love to hear about it.  If you find an easier way to do this, I would love to hear that as well.

So, I got my module page set up and looking the way I wanted it to look


Integumentary System Module screenshot


and I thought I would show just how easy it is to do something similar. For starters, I am leaning very heavily on the awesome blog post "Using JQuery without Custom Javascript" by Jeremy Perkins and the "Ed Tech Showcase Series" by Sean Nufer


Getting Started

First thing you need to know about programming is that by and large, programmers hate to reinvent the wheel. That means that snippets of code are shared freely and serve as building blocks to creating bigger and better things. As teachers, the sharing culture is (hopefully) an integral part of your teaching experience. 


So to get started, I really liked the tabbed page example that Jeremy Perkins shows in his blog post, so I grabbed the snippet of code and got started. 


Now I have the tabs framework added to the page, Huzzah! But it is a small victory because it isn't really mine yet. So now to get in under the hood and start modifying. First things first, I need 5 tabs, not just 3. And I want to change their labels to Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Conclusion. 



In the next post, I'll go into how to change text colors, tab colors, and content area background colors. 

Steven Copeland

Doc header viewer

Posted by Steven Copeland Sep 21, 2017

Inspired by this topic.


Hey all,


I recently had some trouble with sending in an assignment with canvas. At the top right hand corner I was supposed to put the date, my name, class, and assignment. The problem was that I was creating a text box on the header:



You see those right angles? Those show where the header is. When I put the content above that, it was hidden from view. The trick is to put all that <i>below</i> the header.

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