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All Places > K-12 > Blog > 2018 > May

On Wednesday we have our second annual Canvas Day for our Year 6 Junior school students. It is an event that introduces the students to Canvas and prepares them (in part) for more extensive use the following year in the Senior school. See here for my blogpost from the previous year How we introduced Canvas to our Junior schools


Here is a video of the Home page. I found a countdown timer that embeds via iFrame!


In order to get my head around badges and conditional activities in Modules, I created a series of Mission Modules for the students. Each module has different criteria for completion and all have to be done in sequence:


I used some Prerequisites too which mean that students can see the Modules but cannot yet open them - its a nice feature..


The modules are tied to Badgr badges. Next year we plan to invest in the Badgr Learning Pathway feature Badgr: Badges, Badge Stacking and Pathways......  to reward students' digital skills and recognise their attributes above and beyond school lessons, so this is a gentle introduction to it.


I created the badges in Word!! and developed them with some simple graphics editing in Pixlr:


Badges are awarded for Module completion with the criteria added for each task.


A much greater challenge this year was to design pages that were easy to read on students' iPads. I drew extensively on the ideas shared in the Canvas HTML Tricks and Tips course to try to create more engaging pages eg buttons and text boxes:


One of the biggest and most time consuming task was to create pages that looked good on the iPad. We use Surface Pros in the Senior school and the design of the pages looks very different when on an iPad (I did not bother with the Canvas App as it would only have confused matters further).


Here is an example of what I mean:


FIRFOX in Windows

iPad in Safari (with Navigation menu)

Other little foibles for those working with iPads include having to double click on the Next/Previous buttons!


We are going to try our hand at creating an ePortfolio with information based on the day and some preparation for the day. Students will submit the link to the ePortfolio as an assignment which will be peer assessed via a rubric. Ambitious!


I've created a series of handouts that guides the students through the work and we have plenty of support at hand.


The one bit I am most pleased with is the embedded use of H5Ps interactive video (H5P - Free Interactive Content Creation with HTML5 if you are interested). 


The main task that students do as a team is a Quiz. I wanted to stagger the entry to the quiz and create a bit of tension. I took a 60 second promotional video that the school used and added Crossroads feature onto the Interactive video. This allows you to place MC questions at different parts of the timeline. You can below then move students to different locations (ie backwards) depending on their answers.


I created 5 observation based questions throughout the timeline (see the blue circles)

Example of a question with choices at 8 seconds into video:


What happens if students choose a wrong answer - go back to start!


The Interactive feature also includes a Summary set of questions which reviews your understanding of what you watched. I repeated the questions and then altered the scoring chart at the end.


If students scored 5/5 they got a message with the Access Code to the main Canvas quiz.


The scoring range is below. I've blanked out the code in case any students read my blog!



I foolishly designed the main quiz with not checking if the Access Code worked with iPads - it does not!! I then recreated the quiz back in the old Quiz feature - it does..


Some things I changed/learned when making the pages:

  • I created tables using % rather than fixed widths - hoping it would impact less on iPad
  • I altered the banner headings for each page to 100% width - again hoping it would impact less on iPads
  • Where possible I encouraged the use of hiding the Navigation Menu to increase screen acreage
  • Very few designers seem to test on iPad and Safari
  • You need a test buddy to try things out and report back! Thanks so much Liz Jones. Wouldn't have caught the H5P issue with Go To target otherwise (H5P interactive videos seem to lag about 1s behind Windows based)



Just going through the course and updating the quiz scores as it was a team task to make sure students are given Badges for their performance. The Badgr individual Learning Path looks particularly impressive:


It has also been nice to see so many badges earned from the Leaderboard too:

Getting assessment right can be a challenge. Especially in a busy primary school classroom where time is precious and the timetable action packed.

Making the most of snatched or pre-planned moments to work 1:1 with students to gauge how they are feeling about school while diagnosing exactly where they are at is an art. My hat gets taken off to teachers who manage so much with so little.

Thank goodness Canvas offers so many ways to assist with assessing. This gem of an article names up 10 great ways that could be adapted to use within Canvas for formative assessment

High quality formative assessment is key to great teaching and learning. Here’s another beauty about formative assessment which pays particular note to HOTS Higher Order Thinking Skills. Love it! I particularly like the point they make about great feedback having the potential to 'push our students to excel in ways they didn’t know they could`. Again I feel grateful that we have many facilities within Canvas to provide great feed-back and feed-forward.

Not much beats the magic that happens during the course of a school day, the gems of formative assessment that evolve during lessons between students and their teachers. This enables teachers to not only assess their students but their own teaching also.

New approaches to assessment are challenging, and learning new ways to do this within a Learning Management System can be a challenge and involve an initial commitment of time. That’s why it’s great that within the Canvas Community we can support each other to learn new skills, discover answers to questions, and become better at our craft so we can best support the learners in our charge.

This just popped into my inbox. Worth a read too 22 Simple Daily Assessment Strategies That Really Work . And some more loveliness here How to Fix 5 Common Formative Assessment Problems Teachers Have

And a belated find: How To Quickly and Successfully Measure Learners' Understanding  

I’m curious to hear how primary/elementary K-6 teachers have been using Canvas to assess their students.


I've collected some ways of assessing using Canvas here Assessment and the little people - Part Two 

Since May the Fourth was here last week, I was looking for something Star Wars related to send to staff in my weekly teaching and learning updates. I figured Yoda was the most relevant for teachers and when I began Googling Yoda quotes- of websites I found a plethora. (Including Learn to talk like Yoda)

So here goes the Canvas references!

No! Try not! Do or do not, there is no try.

We can always edit content, students can always edit work. The beauty of technological tools is editing, deleting, resubmitting, collaborating, differentiating and 24/7 access just to name a few things here. Gone are the days of buying two large sheets of cardboard in case you make a mistake on the first project and have to start all over again. The time saved means we can do!

Judge me by my size, do you?

Kids can do and create wonderful things when given the right tools, and the chance to create, choose and collaborate. Canvas gives students access to groups, peer assessment and the ability to comment on their own feedback in Speedgrader.

Always pass on what you have learned.

Commons! Need I say more here – we need to keep sharing, in particular Australian schools and new syllabus content etc. Think of the time saved.

Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.

Learning portfolios are always important for students – in particular if students are going for portfolio entry into University, applying for employment or presenting quality work to a real world audience.

For staff, rolling over and evaluating courses always comes to mind here. Sometimes the content doesn’t change, just the faces in front of you. In addition, if you have differentiated content within courses for some students, there are always others that will benefit from this work.

So certain were you. Go back and closer you must look.

Multiple attempts in assignments and being able to draft, give feedback and promote assessment for and as learning within courses, tasks and lessons. The ability to message students in Canvas is also of benefit here, some students still do not use social media (not a lot, but some) and this assists students to access these messages free of charge.

You will find only what you bring in.

This goes for anything – you will get out of Canvas exactly what you give. Same as your students – a little effort, a smile, a kind word, a flipped learning video – anything that makes their learning a happier time of their life. Sometimes teachers are their only constant in life at this stage.

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future…

Ahhh beta release notes and Canvas ideas…

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.

Not only for our students, and the ability to see that learning can be fun, but also for staff. This is where I see the Community. Sometimes I have no idea how to do something – the Community always has the answer.

For my students – content is always in their modules, thinking is modelled and alive.

If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are… a different game you should play.

Solutions to problems are sometimes found in different places, by different people – collaboration tools, online learning, and communication either face to face or online. Discussions always help and maybe a different direction is needed. Yet the goal is always the same- successful students performing at their best, and successful teachers feeling valued.

And the last one…When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not.

I don't doubt that Yoda! Happy belated May the Fourth (be with you).


Aren’t we lucky to be teachers. Every day brings so many moments to celebrate with our learners. No two days are the same as we aim to get to know and support students in the best ways we can. Teachers never cease to amaze me with the creative ways they plan their programs to cater for all of the different needs and abilities in their classes. They are constantly on the lookout for new ideas and problem solving with colleagues to ensure each student is given the best chance to learn.


By differentiating learning as much as possible teachers are able to tailor their activities to suit where each student’s abilities are at, even if these abilities differ widely from others in the class.


Then teachers go the extra mile to personalise the learning, where they can, by including the student in planning how to best meet their needs by looking at their interests, how they work, and their goals.


Teaching is a real art. To juggle differentiating and personalising while covering a crowded curriculum and dealing with the daily ups and downs of school life takes a lot of skill and creativity.


That’s where Canvas can come in and help support teachers by providing ways to differentiate and personalise. This learning environment has so much potential for teachers to tap into to assign different tasks for individuals and groups, then embedding a variety of tools and challenges.


I recently found this great read by Amber Hainline to help me get an idea of how Canvas can help with Differentiation. Differentiating Assignments (k-12) in Canvas: Helping All Learners Be Successful  Well worth a read. I’d love to hear about how people are using Canvas to support differentiation and personalised learning in classes. Do you use groups? Favourite tricks? Tips and tricks to help the daily juggle?

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