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Sandra Reitzel

The Way I See It

Posted by Sandra Reitzel Jul 11, 2017

I have been using Canvas in my classroom for 2 years now. At first I just used it for quizzes, since my students had to take their Science EOG online that year, and I wanted them to be used to taking quizzes online. As the year went on I saw that Canvas modules were very useful for organizing content. I could post my slide presentations there, which helped my students follow along with instruction, or access the slides if they were absent that day.


As time went on I saw how nice it was to post assignments to Canvas for my students, instead of running off 170 sheets of paper I could post the assignments one time, and all of my students could access them, most of them even if they were absent that day.I will admit having that many students, and on an A day B day schedule, it is hard for me to remember who is absent. So this enables my students to keep up with the work. I started using Announcements to send reminders of important due dates and upcoming events. I love having the my tests and quizzes graded for me!


Now that I am becoming somewhat of an 'expert' using Canvas, I look forward to really seeing the power of this LMS. I look forward to using more Discussions with Rubrics, Collaborations, Mastery Paths, and streamlining my course. I have to say I can not relinquish total control of my teaching to an online system, but I can really target my individual student needs and make learning engaging and appropriate for all of my students. 

Hi Everyone,

This is my 1st blog post and I apologize if it duplicates thoughts that have been previously shared.  I have used CANVAS for 3 years and I love it!  Thank You.




Use shared teacher access to a course to enhance teacher mentoring, especially using questions banks for shared assessments.



Last year I mentored a new teacher in a course in which we both taught separated sections.  We functioned as a PLC.. Prior to last year my mentee used CANVAS, which our school district provided, to deliver course resources.  However, he did not have detailed CANVAS experience and resorted to paper quizzes for assessments.  Initially, I exported to him CANVAS quizzes I had developed, but we both wanted to use Question Banks.  Our system limitations coupled with the size of our courses led to difficulty using export/import.   The idea arose for him to have access to my course, which we found our system administrator could do for us.  Now my mentee had a course model to consult.  Happily, we found he could directly use my question bank for questions for his quizzes.  As his experience grew, he too began writing questions in our shared question banks.  This became an extremely valuable resource for us and most importantly our kids.  We believe this contributed to our students' best performance to date on our state's EOC.


I hope this post is helpful to some and might yield some comments on how we can extend this approach.  Cheets!

*Written with a middle school mindset!*


"Can I have another copy? I put it in my binder but it's not there." "I forgot that it was due today, can I turn it in tomorrow?" "Why is it the end of the semester and I am just finding out my child is failing?!" These are all things that most teachers have heard multiple times throughout the school year, and if you are like me, it makes me want to pull my hair out! The school provided planner is never used, the online grade book is never accessed, and there is a paper monster in everyone's backpack. This is why I get so excited about Canvas and wish more of my colleagues would utilize it in their daily instruction. Canvas provides our students with tools that can increase their organization and time management skills so that we may increase their accountability. 


Online Distribution and Submission

Every year it feels like I go through more paper than the year before, and every year it feels like administration gives fewer reams than the year before. By uploading articles and other resources I am saving not only trees but my students from having to keep up with multiple handouts (the horror!). Using the quiz element allows me to easily grade from any convenient location without having to lug a stack of 150+ tests around. Not to mention all submissions on Canvas are time stamped so setting deadlines and holding our students to meeting them is easier. No more arguments of "I turned it in but you must have lost it."



I love the calendar element for Canvas because it cuts out the "I didn't know it was due" excuse. At the beginning of each week, I have my students pull out their planners and write down all their assignments for the week looking at the Canvas calendar. This leads to great discussions on making to-do lists, prioritizing, and setting goals. These are all very valuable real-world skills they need to develop before even reaching high school. So many times teachers expect students to know how to manage their time, but don't realize the maturity needed to master the concept. Think about how many of your colleagues can't even keep up with meetings or grade submissions!


Parent App

I encourage parents at the beginning of the year to download the Canvas Parent App, and then I take it a step further and encourage them to set a reoccurring reminder on their phone for one evening each week. I tell them when this alarm goes off, I want them to grab their student and open up the Canvas App to have a discussion about the student's grades and upcoming assignments. I have found there are two extremes when it comes to middle school parents- those who expect their child to immediately be responsible time managers on the first day of sixth grade, and those who insist that the teacher write assignments in their student's planner each day as well as send a daily email with their grades and assignments all the way through 8th grade. Explaining to parents at the beginning of the year how they can use the app to have conversations with their students about grades and due dates in order to develop the child's organization skills have eliminated a lot of those headaches. Throwing out that it'll take stress off of them and help keep those daily conversations with their hormonal and moody preteen helps too!

"I have no idea what’s going to happen here, but it can’t be good,” said a visibly shaken Katie Wahl, 11, who according to reports began steeling herself for whatever god-awful group project, class discussion, or sharing of personal experiences the sixth-grade teacher might have in store for them."


Socratic seminars, while a valuable (and, as this Onion article implies, ubiquitous) classroom discussion tool, don't always go as planned. I haven't managed to pull one off, at least. Tips? 


One way I'm improving this deficit is by bringing it to my students' playing field. After all, they do get to send text to their classmates rather than having to talk in class. And I don't have to take furious notes on what each kid says, or print out a roster with a bunch of vague check-marks, or ask that one little girl in 4th block to please speak up, please, or have a kid in my homeroom repeat himself about 80 times before I finally get the presence of mind to actually listen to what he's saying, but you know, your mileage may vary. Additional benefits include another surprise grammar quiz after realizing that they still haven't learned "its" v. "it's" and ways to further myself as an educator by remembering to leave a clear rubric every time I see a "I agree with [REDACTED] because I like what they said" instead of a short answer style response with coherent structure and text evidence/supporting details for a a formal project grade. 


Naturally, this doesn't preclude me from hearing the sweet, sweet sound of 36 desks being laboriously dragged across the laminate into clunky oblong. Time to cut up some tennis balls. 

Isiah Willaims

My Journey to Canvas

Posted by Isiah Willaims Jul 11, 2017

My first year teaching I was a High School math teacher.  I was at an alternative school for pregnant teens.  Many of the students were not in attendance but wanted to be.  We had rolling admission at my school so I didn't know how many kids I would teaching from day to day and very little notice of who would leave.  We had attendance issues.  My students couldn't get to school because of health issues, appointments, or they had to stay home with their children.  I first started developing an online curriculum through using Wikispaces.  It worked! My students were able access all my material.  The problem was getting work turned in!  We had limited email space in my district and many of students were sending huge files.  I was trying to eliminate paper.  However, at the end of the semester most students would come class with a book full of completed work.  That's frustrating near of the year with grades on the line.  I did home visits for some kids and used Skype for others, but because of their medical issue it was hard to get in touch with them.  With the introduction to Canvas in my district it has made it so much easier for my students to retrieve and submit work, contact, and get feedback.  With incorporation of Google Apps, I can upload all of my docs so students can submit work.  I am an Engineering Teacher now, I still love using it.  Now I'm looking forward to the day that Canvas can interact with CAD files with fluidity.  

How do the "old-schoolers" like myself, use technology see and do math? Math is not just an answer but math is about the route you take to come to the solution. If you are like me, you like working things out on paper, or being able to highlight and manipulate a worksheet. Our students also like to do the same, well most of them. This year our state introduce the math EOG online. The look in there eyes were scary, as their teacher. We prepped them with prior online tests but when it comes to the real thing, it is just not the same as it was.


So what do we do in this time of the tech boom. We had a tech boom in the late 1990's and early 2000's but this is a tech boom for everyone, not just those in Silicon Valley. The answer might be scary but... we need to change our ways and learn to adapt. We have to modify and recreate lesson plans that we have using for 5,10, 15 years.


Using Canvas, we can find new and innovative ways to do such thing in math that we did not think if before. I have some examples below to help guide you (and me!) in this new age of school's relationship with technology.


1. Canvas has many great features. One is, discussions. Every have the situation of "why do we need this" or "why does it matter if I change a negative sign over an inequality...". This tool helps students express ideas and collaborate and ponder together. Students can receive a participation grade and "like" other students ideas. Play around and see what you can do!


2. Instant quiz results can either be a hindrance or a blessing. Canvas makes it easy to set parameters on what you want students to see after they quiz. Do you want them to see the correct answers, do you want them to be able to retake? The possibilities for quizzes is boundless.


3. Do you enjoy having a clean desk and classroom? Do you like not having stacks of paper? Well, Canvas is for you! The best part, Canvas can drop your grades right into your gradebook!


I hope you found some useful information and that you get out there and explore!

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