*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!
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!