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Belinda Stutzman

Grading Schemes

Posted by Belinda Stutzman Feb 26, 2019

We have implemented standards based grading in our district which is difficult sometimes when it comes to the grade books in Canvas.  While the Learning Mastery Grade Book has great potential, it doesn't fit all of the requirements that we have, therefore, it is wonky at times.  We have created grading schemes for teachers to use in the traditional grade book and this has proven to be helpful. 


This document 4152,57090 shows teachers how they can make their own grading schemes in their course.  This way they can have a points based assignment, but have it report out using our Exceeding, Meeting, Approaching and Attempting language rather than a letter grade, points or percentages.  This is helpful at the end of the term since we lean more on professional judgement of progress toward mastery rather than a total points or weighted system. 


When students and parents view the Canvas course, they also see this language which helps keep the conversations the same among everyone.


Our school rolled out Canvas with training last school year and expectations for usage this school year. We have learned a lot as we have moved forward. There has been some frustration and also some excitement with this new learning management system. I received an interesting message from a Canvas salesperson this weekend who thanked me for my post "New to an LMS? Take the time to revamp for high agency learning". He said his background was in sales when he joined the Instructure/Canvas team and he wished he had access to this post when he started because he felt it would have helped him understand what Canvas can do for educators better. I do believe we are in a world where new technology-based platforms enter the market exponentially. With this, people are trying to decide how best to embrace these platforms for what they do. It isn't just educators in this struggle. I hear business owners, marketing directors, and whole industries trying to figure out what is next in the circles I am in regarding the increased saturation of voice speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. I heard a leading CEO for a media company say "our industry has to stop trying to force what we do into these new platforms. It's time for us to rethink what we do to adapt to these new platforms." Bazinga! The same holds true with education and access to learning management systems. Some of the frustration I hear teachers have with our LMS has to do with the fact that much of what they do is non-digitized and being fit into Canvas to fill the requirements. There is no shame in that game because often we don't know how to change something until we get to know the platform well. I think many of our teachers are beginning to be in the space of looking for other options. Below are a few options that teachers can try to change their curriculum in a way that fits the platform...not because this is the correct thing to do but because of frustrations from trying to do things the way they have in the past. The purpose of this post is to help educators see built-in ways inside Canvas to enhance learning in the classroom with the tools at teacher disposal.

  • Discussions. Discussion boards are a great way to get ideas flowing. If you create discussions in Canvas you can have students discuss documents, links, YouTube videos, or just about any discussion starter you can think of. When setting up a discussion, you have multiple ways to create it to best meet your classroom needs. For instance, you can allow threaded discussions so people can respond to each other. You can also set it up where students can't read other comments until they post their own first. You can even put students in assigned groups for discussions (a great way to differentiate).  Discussion boards are a great way to give the quietest student a voice. 
  • Collaborations. Perhaps your students have been collaborating in Google docs for a long time, but did you know you can set up collaboration opportunities right in Canvas? You can assign groups to work on a Google doc, presentation or spreadsheet by clicking on the "Collaborations" tab inside your course. You can set up your collaboration groups on the fly or set up groups first and then assign the collaboration to that group. 
  • Group Assignments. When creating an assignment in Canvas under the Assignment tab for your course, you can actually choose the option to make it a "Group Assignment." This then allows you to click to choose to give each member of the group their own grade or you can give every group member the same grade automatically when you grade the assignment. 
  • Media Recordings. Did you know that your students can create media recordings (both video and vocal) for assignments? Teach a foreign language and want to check for fluency? Have students upload themselves speaking. Teach dance, pottery, band or chorus? Have students upload a video to show their processes. Are your students going to present in class? Have them practice at home so you can give improvement feedback before the actual event.  Did you know you, as a teacher, you can also leave media recording comments inside Speedgrader? That's right. Instead of typing out your comments, use your voice and inflection to share your thoughts in the writing process with your students. 
  • Outcomes. What are Outcomes? Outcomes allow the administration and faculty to track mastery in a course. Users can import Account, State, and Common Core Standards into an account and course. Another useful thing about using outcomes is that you can set assignments/quiz access based on the finishing of prior assignment/quizzes. This can allow students to move at their own pace for some units or assignments. It can also allow you to see if they are truly meeting the standards without leaving gaps in their learning before moving on to the next part of the curriculum.
  • "Use Outcomes to:
    • Align Quizzes and Assignments to different kinds of mastery

    • Run reports at the account-level about student artifacts of learning mastery

    • Assess student progress through calculation methods

    • Track student progress on a learning outcome or overall in the Learning Mastery Gradebook

    • Align accreditation or other core standards to programs of study, courses, or student assessments 

    • Focus students' attention on the most important skills and activities in your course (find existing outcomes or create new ones)" (pulled from Canvas website)

Candice Lim

Book and Reading Reports

Posted by Candice Lim Employee Feb 3, 2019

End of last year, I met a librarian who was keen to get book and reading reports captured in Canvas. I reached out to our APAC team, and we brainstormed and worked through a couple of options. Thanks to Amelia Hayson, Ryo Sakai, Paul Millar, Debbie Thompson, and Brett Dalton for your contributions to this article!


Here are some options you might want to consider if you’re also looking to capture book and reading reports in Canvas.


Option 1: Assignments in a Module


Create as many Assignments as needed in a dedicated reading Module, and students complete them as needed.


So that the number of book reports does not affect the final mark, either

  1. use the “does not count towards the final mark” check box option to inform the student that it’s not counted; or
  2. add these Assignments into an Assignment Group and add a 0% weighting.


Students submit their reading reports either

  1. using Text Entry submission, where they can add details about the book, and can also include a picture of it; or
  2. using URL submission, where they can keep track of all their reports in an external document to log their reports (ex. Google doc)



  • Students have flexibility with capturing their reading reports (i.e. text, picture, URL)
  • Teachers can track individual Assignment submissions in the Gradebook so that every column with a score/submission icon can be clearly seen to indicate progress



  • Some explanation needed in this Module to explain that not all Assignments in this Module need to be completed - this can easily be resolved by adding a page at the beginning of the Module, or adding a note in a Module Text Header


Option 2: Assignment submission with multiple attempts


Create an Assignment that allow multiple attempts. Tick the box so that it doesn't count towards the final mark. There will still be an entry in the Gradebook to input number of reading reports completed.


Students submit as described in Option 1.


You can also add a recurring Calendar Event with a link to this Assignment as a reminder for students to complete it weekly.


  • Single Assignment for all reading reports, so it's easy to know where to go to submit their reading report
  • Students can submit multiple times so not limited to how many they can submit
  • Teachers can view number of submissions to indicate number of reading reports completed


  • Students can only see their last submission
  • In the Gradebook, it would only be one entry (potentially a manual number that the teacher includes to indicate how many reading reports have been submitted)


Option 3: Survey with multiple attempts


Create an unmarked Survey and allow multiple attempts.


Students fill out the Survey.



  • Students have clear fields to fill out
  • They can submit multiple times so not limited to how many they can submit
  • Teachers can view number of attempts to indicate number of reading reports completed



  • Students can only see their last Survey results
  • Would not show up in the Gradebook if an unmarked Survey. Alternatively, you could make this a marked Survey so it shows up in the Gradebook, then put it in an Assignment Group with 0% weighting. However, like Option 2, it would only show one column in the Gradebook.


Option 4: Group Discussion


Create a Group Set for Reading Reports, and assign students into their own Groups within that Group Set. Up to 200 Groups can be created in each Group Set, which means you can auto-assign up to 200 students into their own Groups using this method.


Create a Group Discussion, and select the appropriate Group Set for Reading Reports. You may need to create multiple Group Sets and Group Discussions to capture all students who will be submitting reading reports.


Students add a post for each reading report in a Group Discussion that only they can see.



  • Unlimited number of posts/reading reports in a Discussion
  • Teachers can easily see the number of posts corresponding to number of reports when looking at the Discussion
  • Teachers can comment directly by replying to the post related to each reading report



  • Extra administration work to set up Groups for each student.
  • If unmarked, would not show up in the Gradebook. Alternatively, you could make this a marked Discussion so it shows up in the Gradebook, then put it in an Assignment Group with 0% weighting. However, like Options 2 and 3, it would only show one column in the Gradebook.


Have you set up book or reading reports in Canvas? How did you do it?

Have you tried one of our options above, or a modified version? We'd love to hear your ideas and thoughts.

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