Laura Gibbs

Learning by H.E.A.R.T.: My new Canvas space

Blog Post created by Laura Gibbs on Jul 18, 2017

I made HUGE progress yesterday and today on one of the things I needed to do before classes start: my H.E.A.R.T. blog was a mess... but now it is all cleaned up, and it is reflected beautifully (and automatically!) in a new Canvas space I created: 

(it's 100% open, so just click and go)


heart homepage screenshot


Here's a quick overview of what this is all about:


After I created my Growth Mindset blog and related materials (Canvas space here: Exploring Growth Mindset), I realized there were all kinds of other social/emotional/cognitive topics I wanted to discuss with my students, but I was going to start to dilute the specific topic of growth mindset if I tried to fit everything under that umbrella. So, I arbitrarily created an acronym: H.E.A.R.T. which has done a good job of letting me include the materials I want — H is for health/happiness (I doubled up there), E is for empathy, A is for attention, R is for reading, and T is for time management. Reading may seem like the odd item out there, but reading is a huge part of my classes and I really want to ignite my students' love of reading in conjunction with empathy, creativity, imagination, etc. That goes also for writing (my classes are reading-writing intensive), but I already have a separate blog for writing (Writing Laboratory; it needs work too...), so I didn't need to find a way to fit in here.


So, I made the HEART blog a year ago (or two years ago? I don't remember...), and just started adding stuff. And bookmarking articles at Diigo. And creating Challenges like the Growth Mindset Challenges.


And... it got messy. And I knew exactly what I needed to do for the clean-up: having the Canvas Growth Mindset space has really forced me to be systematic and logical about how I build and maintain that space with dynamic feeds from my blog and from Diigo, so I decided to try the same approach for the HEART materials.


And... the Canvas-driven approach worked! I used the power blog label RSS and Diigo RSS to create feeds for the six areas (so I've got 6 specific blog feeds and 6 specific Diigo feeds), then I used Inoreader to combine the blog and Diigo RSS feeds into a single feed for each area (5 of those total: HEART), and then I embedded that feed in Canvas Pages... and in pages at my blog too! Now I have BOTH blog content AND Diigo content combined at the blog. That makes browsing materials more efficient for my students, and it's a trick I would never have learned if I had not been playing with RSS and Canvas all summer. If you poke around in my Canvas blog here, you'll see detailed notes about how to do these things (and I'm glad to answer any and all questions of course!).


So, if you look at the blog, it looks like a regular blog: there are posts, and there's fun stuff in the sidebar.

Then, there are also pages across the top, and those pages contain an embedded RSS feed which brings in BOTH new content from the blog AND new articles from Diigo!


Blog Page for Empathy:


Empathy page screenshot


Over in Canvas: the same! I update in one place (I post at the blog or I bookmark at Diigo), and PRESTO: it's magic! New content in my blog pages and new content in my Canvas Pages.


Canvas Page for Empathy:


canvas empathy page screenshot



I also did an omnifeed for all the five areas combined on the homepage of the Canvas courseI don't really need this at the blog since that is what the homepage of the blog basically does already (without the Diigo posts, but I put a Diigo RSS feed in the sidebar of the blog to compensate for that).


canvas homepage screenshot

So, this went GREAT. Now I need to add in the Challenges (I am going to use the GoogleDoc Folder system like I did for the Growth Mindset Challenges in Canvas), then I need to create a few widget pages in the Canvas space since I have some good widgets in the Widget Warehouse on the H.E.A.R.T. topics.


Plus, I am thinking I will make some unique Twitter hashtag in order to get some Twitter going on too. If I have time.


So, that's on the agenda for tomorrow and Thursday. Whoo-hoo! And what's great is that now the space is ready for all the new content I've bookmarked over the summer to add: I was hesitant to add new content when I knew everything was a mess, but now that I have everything organized, I am good to go, and I have a bigger motivation, too, because now I know that when I post at the blog or bookmark at Diigo, that is going to update my blog and Canvas pages automatically.


So, to quote a Twitter hashtag: #RSSForever. I seriously love RSS and Inoreader. :-)