As a middle school teacher, my lessons and ideas must always involve collaboration. Students cannot sit still, cannot stay quiet, and must be able to work with each other in order to achieve their goals. As I approached our unit on Animal Farm this year, I knew that I wanted my Honors students to read the novel in literature circles. But, with 43 students in a class, I did not want to make any copies or take up any work to grade. I also needed them to be able to work at their own pace and not be stalled waiting for other groups. Therefore, I turned to Canvas.
I set up the novel study through Pages so that I could give my students extremely clear directions and one page to refer back to when they reached a point of confusion. On the page, I divided the novel into sections and posted the instructions for the work. I linked the Google Docs to copy and the assignments for students to turn their documents into. I could post links to videos and presentations as well. I also used the groups feature to assign discussions within their small groups.
At first, my students balked in the face of so much technology and complained. But, I did not let their initial shock and resistance deter me. I explained that they would need to adjust their thinking and figure out how to use the page in this way. After the first week, they were able to operate the page and assignments on their own. This method made them so much more independent and allowed me to float around the classroom and listen in as they explained their thinking to others.
By the end of the unit, my students said that they loved being able to get such quick feedback on their work, knowing exactly where to go to find assignments, and that the directions were always available to them. Now that Canvas has been more fully integrated with Google, I look forward to being able to tweak this page and move it into modules with the documents already built into the pages and assignments.