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I'm coming up to my first Canvas Community birthday and have lost count of the number of times I have delved in to learn something new, ask a question, meet new people, and share a laugh.


Isn't it great that we all have access to this treasure trove of goodness. This world where we can share ideas, problem solve, and make learning so much more fun for all the learners involved - including us teachers.


Then I discovered 'Insights' on my Canvas profile page. Now this seriously challenged me. I was surprised at how much of a consumer I was. So, I dipped my toe in the water and became more of a participant and realised that I didn't have to know all of the whizz-bang techy magic. I just needed to share my experience. Through doing that I have helped others and been helped myself. Paying it forward with sharing anecdotes, questions, provocations has not only made me a more active member of the Community but enriched me so much with the interactions that have come from these.


Here is my challenge to my fellow Community members - share an idea, ask a question, tell a story. Help to make it stronger, and more exciting.


“Because it proves that you don't need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you've got.”
Catherine Ryan Hyde, Pay It Forward

I use Canvas to help organize my 9th grade Health classes.   Canvas allows me to customize my lessons based on each students level of learning and allow them to see full assignments, and make choices in their assignments.  It allows me to hold the students accountable since they have submission dates.  It allows each student to track their own grades and gives them a chance to see how well they are doing on quizzes when the answers can be seen at the end of the test. It also allows for a safe environment for discussions when used in warm ups as I can see the threads. and students post.

Here is an example of a discussion question that sued threaded replies:

5 mental disorders warm up 

Vickie Waddell

Why I Use Canvas

Posted by Vickie Waddell Apr 17, 2018

I use Canvas to organize my AP Gov class.  This is a high achieving group and Canvas allows me to customize my lessons based on each students achievements.  It allows me to hold the students accountable because they cannot move on until they are finished or they can move ahead if they finish early.  It allows each student to control his/her pacing.

After returning from winter break in January, I decided to introduce my students to discussion posts on Canvas. One of my goals for this year has been to move away from the traditional weekly reading log and give students more alternatives to document their individual reading. My students have been using Canvas all year, but this feature was one I had yet to use with them. However, the idea of interacting with each other online was not entirely new to my class. I have used the Peer Editing feature on Canvas and even posted a blog about it earlier - Peer Editing Post.


I created two posts for them. One post was for a book of their choice that they read during the 3rd quarter. The other was a post about a novel study they did with their class book club. I set up the discussions in January at the start of the 3rd quarter and after about a month I started receiving notifications that things were being posted. Along with posting about their book, they also had to reply to at least two of their classmates regarding their posts. This is where the flaws in my plan and my lack of lessons and modeling caught up with me. 


Our school district has put a lot of effort into educating students about digital citizenship and being safe, responsible, and respectful online. The district has created courses for K-12 students to go through during the year and have also provided several opportunities for students and teachers to continue this discussion once the courses are completed. I went through these courses at the beginning of the year and would consistently address various digital citizenship issues afterwards. When January came, I assumed the students would be able to handle posting and replying in an online setting. 


The initial posts were fine with the exception of a few students who chose to just copy and paste a summary from a site such as Scholastic or Goodreads and pass it off as their own. This was a small problem and addressed on an individual basis.


What became a big problem was with the replies students were posting to each other. I did give them some guidelines as to what they should include in their response and also reminded them of how to act in an online setting. What I forgot to address was what they should not do, or include in their replies. Some students took it upon themselves to become the teacher and pick out every spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistake in posts by others, as well as, harshly critique the content of the post. This then lead to retaliation by the other student who in turn did the same and others also joined the replies to defend their classmates.


I was amazed at how quickly this spread and got out of hand. A year or two ago, I would have probably closed the discussion and stopped doing it entirely for the remainder of the year. I chose to go the other way and make it a learning experience for all of us. We quickly had a class meeting to discuss what had happened and how it made everybody feel. This was a great learning experience for all of us. The students realized how important it is to be aware of the differences between an online response and talking face to face. They have done peer editing with each other, but it was done as a spoken activity and not online. They were able to use facial expressions and tone of voice to get their meaning across without sounding too critical. This is something they can't do online and they realized that even though they did not mean to sound so critical in their replies this is how it was perceived. I also learned their perspective on social media and how they think you should react to others online. I was surprised at how they felt they needed to fight back and retaliate if someone attacked their posts. The idea of ignoring the post, unfollowing, or blocking the person was not even considered. 


Following our discussion, I taught and modeled how to reply in a respectful manner to other people's posts and also used some images that colleagues created to teach this concept. I wanted to post this to share how Canvas is a great tool for allowing students the platform to practice this kind of online communication and collaboration. We all make mistakes as we learn something new. For my students, taking part in online scholarly discussions was something new and something that will require some time and a lot of opportunities for them to get it right. Canvas gives them the platform and the safe atmosphere to make these mistakes, learn, and improve.

It’s still very early days for us using Canvas in Tasmania, and every day sees us discover new features and potential. Canvas is offering so much to our learners. I’m particularly enjoying the way teachers are making the most of Canvas to create courses as spaces to collaborate and share resources between schools.

Participating in the Canvas Community has also provided insight into some of the exciting ways people are using Canvas in their learning environments. We can’t thank the community enough for providing timely advice and support in so many ways. Some super ideas were shared here Best reasons for using Canvas K-6. Thanks for those!

As we are traveling around the state supporting schools with blended learning we are often asked for examples of Canvas being used in primary/elementary classrooms. Course design has become a hot topic with the home page layout being crucial to the way a course operates.

Instructional Designers  K-12  or Canvas User Engagement are you able to share any ideas here?

Please, please, please could we see some examples of the way people are using Canvas in schools? THANKS in advance. 

I am very excited about the new EquatIO LTI plugin that will seamlessly integrate with Canvas. This new app will be a game changer for math and science teachers and their students who want to create accessible (read aloud) digital math right from the Rich Content Editor.


Here’s a quick preview of how it will work.



To get started, simply click on the EquatIO icon.



On the Equation window, create sophisticated math and science notation using one of the built-in tools (Equation Editor, LaTeX Editor, Graph Editor, Handwriting Recognition, Speech Input).



Click INSERT MATH to add the equation to any announcement, assignment, discussion, content page, etc.


The EquatIO tool also works great in quizzes! Check out this quick video to see it in action.


The EquatIO integration with Canvas is expected to be available by the end of April, 2018. For more information about the EquatIO LTI plugin, please contact John McGowan.

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