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All People > Laura Gibbs > Laura Gibbs' Blog > 2018 > July

I usually don't prep my Fall classes until August... but this year, because of InstructureCon and family stuff next week and the week after, I realized I needed to get my classes prepped NOW to be ready for the soft start on August 13. And it feels both very nerdy but also very cool to have them all ready to go even though it is just July 20! I still have a ton of things to do in terms of revising and improving the assignments, but I think I got all the Canvas work done. Whoo-hoo!


Here's are some items perhaps of interest to others:


JAMES JONES, API EMPEROR. James Jones and his Adjust-All-Dates is the most amazing Canvas magic I've ever seen. Not only does it help me manage my dates, it also helps me be thoughtful about assignment titles. I use a microassignments approach with over 200 assignments per class (students choose around 6 assignments to complete each week, or more if they want)... so being able to edit all my assignment titles and dates in a spreadsheet is ideal.
Adjust All Assignment Dates on One Page 

I use the same course design across all three classes, with just the titles of the modules being different, so I fix up one course with James's tool, and then I just copy it twice. It works perfectly for me! I had some assignment title changes this semester, so I really made good use of the API spreadsheet this semester.



MODULES. Thanks to a great discussion here about all-caps and the Modules page, I did a little adjusting of my Modules page layout: I put the link to my assignments information (at my class wiki) in ALL-CAPS and indented, just to help it stand out a bit better from the other items in the Module, which are all just declaration quizzes that the students complete to record their work in the gradebook. I like how it looks now, and I think the students will too.



screenshot of Modules page


And I will also reiterate what I said in that discussion about the Modules page: the Modules page is just sleep-inducing. When you design it well (i.e. consistently), it becomes really monotonous to look at. So, in order to make the actual assignments page both more functional AND more fun, I use a class wiki powered by PBWorks (free for educators). I keep thinking I should move from this old wiki to a newer platform, but I sure do like the way it works, and I've been using it for what must be 10 years... or even more? Anyway, a long time; PBWiki has been a good techno-friend. You can see a typical week here: Week 4.


screenshot of Week 4 class wiki


That's a random graphic there each time the page reloads, plus my latest class Twitter. every time the student visits the page (which is often during a given week), I want each visit to be a potential learning adventure, in addition to the ho-hum of finding assignment instructions. With the random graphic and the Twitter sidebar, there's always something new along with all the assignment info and links.


DAILY NEWS. I found an even better way than before of having my students access the class announcements blog in Canvas: I set up a Redirect Tool called "Daily News" in each course, and then I link to that from the course homepage... presto, the right-hand menu disappears and the blog gets all the page space (none of that wasted space at the top of the Page from the embedded version I have to use on the homepage). My left-hand menu is nicely trimmed down now too, just waiting for me to add things as the students' own blogs and projects become part of the course content. Here's the India course with the blog redirect for the daily news.


screenshot of India course: daily news page



PERMANENT URLs. Finally, when I was all done getting the Fall courses ready to go, I updated my URLs, and, to go to the latest versions of my classes; specifically, to that new Daily News link since that really is the best landing page for visitors who are not actual students in the class.


I am so fortunate that my school has Reclaim Hosting and Domains so that I have webspace of my own and subdomains I can control. That way I have a stable URL I can use for my recurring classes. It sure would be nifty if Instructure supported that kind of URL continuity for people who teach the "same" classes semester after semester. It takes me just a minute to set up the redirect to my classes each semester, and meaning that all the places where I've linked to my classes will take people to the latest version.


Okay, it's been a super-long day so I'll sign off now... excited about having my courses in place before making the big trek to Keystone next week. Happy travels to those of you on the road, and happy tweeting/blogging to those of you at home! :-)

Okay, as of today, I think I have the feedback flow in my class squared away in terms of the student assignments. There's lots more I could do... but I've made enough changes for Fall that it will count as a good experiment, and then I can tinker some more in the Spring. This year is going to be a hard one, I know that in advance (family stuff), so I'm really glad to have made these changes and to have them nicely in place. Here's what I've done:


Feedback resource site. I cleaned up and annotated the feedback articles that I had bookmarked in Diigo and created a resource site for my students that I hope can be useful to others too. It's inside my old Growth Mindset Canvas course space:

Feedback Articles: Exploring Growth Mindset 

I've also documented the simple step-by-step for adding new articles to that site. I was so excited that Cathy Davidson noticed this at Twitter, and she is sharing it around at HASTAC. The power of open sharing!!!

How Do You Give Feedback in Engaged, Activist Learning? | HASTAC 


HASTAC screenshot


Revised assignments. Based on those resources, I redesigned by first two feedback exploration assignments. I think they are going to be even better now that there is a real library of articles for students to browse if they want:

Week 2: Receiving and Using Feedback

Week 3: Giving Feedback to Others


Expanded techniques. In the past I had students practice a set of strategies that I called WWW, and I was really pleased to find out that my own WWW is a lot like the TAG approach that is popular among writing teachers, esp. in K-12. So, I now have two weeks of practice, WWW and also TAG so that students can see it's possible to create different approaches/mnemonics for feedback, based on what works best for them:

Week 4: Practicing WWW: Wow, Wonder, What-If

Week 5: Practicing TAG: Tell, Ask, Give

Oh, note to self: one thing I need to do is to update the Growth Mindset Challenges to include more feedback challenges, and encouraging students to come up with a mnemonic of their own for feedback strategies could be really cool!


Feedback Gallery. I wrote a separate post about the Feedback Gallery; along with WWW and TAG, this is the most important resource I have to help students learn to do a good job with feedback.

Feedback Gallery: By-Students For-Students 

... see the Gallery in Canvas


Feedback Padlet. I'm using a Padlet to keep track of feedback graphics which I can reuse in the class announcements, and which the students can also browse for ideas and information. I wrote about that here:

Feedback Resources Padlet in Canvas 

... see the Padlet in Canvas


Week by week feedback. During Weeks 6-14, students are giving each other feedback on their projects. I used to have separate pages for all those weeks, but I've realized that I can actually re-use the same randomizing javascript all semester and just tweak it from week to week (I'll write about that some other time). So, instead of 9 webpages, I've got just one now which I can focus on making really clear, adjusting as needed week to week.

Weekly Project Feedback (Weeks 6-14)


Final feedback. As their final feedback assignment of the semester, I'll be asking students to help me add more examples to the Feedback Gallery!

Week 15: Add to Gallery


Fun new widget. I created a fun new widget that draws on my Feedback Cats plus my new Feedback Padlet so that there is a new random feedback resource or graphic that shows up at the bottom of those feedback pages. I just learned that all items in a Padlet have a very nice linkable address, so that's what allowed me to make a widget based on content in a Padlet. So, the graphics that come from the Padlet link to the Padlet; the graphics from the Mindset blog link to the blog; each graphic has a "find out more" link below. I've added the widget to my Canvas Widget Warehouse! 

Widget: Feedback Resources

(There's a link there to the source table also so that you could just take the table, add/delete as needed, and create your own javascript at


screenshot new widget


I was feeling a little bad that there were other ideas and experiments I wanted to explore, but looking at this list, I feel really good about it. I need to move on to other things in order to be done getting my classes set up this week, and I am very excited to see what the students will do with these new resources and strategies.

Last spring, I used a Google Form to get ideas from my students about how to improve the feedback aspects of the class; I wrote about that here:

Feedback from Students about Feedback 


One thing I knew that I wanted to do was to create a FEEDBACK GALLERY with actual examples of useful feedback that students could look at it. Learning by example is powerful, especially with a gallery of useful examples chosen by the students themselves.


So, what I did with the Google Form was to ask each student to share two examples of feedback they had received that was truly useful to them, and today I went through that huge heap of feedback material, pulling out excerpts and then arranging the snippets into categories in a Google Doc. The categories emerged more or less naturally as I sorted through the material, but it's not a scientific classification -- just a convenient way to sort the examples to make the collection navigable, and I might do some rearranging as this evolves. Here's what I have so far, as a Google Doc published in my Canvas resource course space:



And here's a screenshot:


screenshot of Feedback Gallery


I'm really happy with how this turned out! I know that being able to see students' past projects for the class is a huge boost in inspiring them to do a good job with their own projects, and hopefully the Feedback Gallery can be useful in a similar way. I'll have more to share next week as I work on weaving the Gallery into the feedback assignments: school starts in less than a month (eeeek!), but I am excited for this new resource for-students and by-students!


You can see my other feedback posts using this link:



It is the Great Summer of Feedback! :-)

I was excited to see a new #InstCon Twitter Moment pop up at Twitter today (yay Tracey DeLillo!); here it is: InstCon Suspense. As part of my Feedback project, I also have a Twitter Feedback Moment that I created and will be using to share feedback-related tweets with my students: Feedback Resources Twitter Moment.


Basically, a Moment is a way to save a group of related tweets and share them easily with others. The name doesn't really make that clear; the tweets don't have to be close to each other in time at all! I use Twitter Moments to collect and share tweets in specific content-based streams for my classes, and it is a really useful tool since it is integrated into the natural flow of things at Twitter; you can add a given tweet to a Moment in a single click, automatically sending new content to any webspace where you have embedded the Moment. 


So, if you are interested in experimenting with Moments yourself, here are four key things I've learned that help me make good use of Twitter Moments:


1. Learn how to share your Moment. You can embed Moments in a website, a blog, or in a Canvas page. Being able to share the content in multiple spaces multiplies the value of that content! Here's my Feedback Moment in a Canvas Page: it's like inviting Brene Brown to be part of my class -- how cool is that?! Adding a Moment to Canvas is like adding any other Twitter widget, and I have detailed instructions here: Twitter4Canvas.


screenshot of twitter moment in canvas


2. Learn how to edit your Moment. Since the content of the Moment is changing, it's good to make it a daily routine to edit your Moment. That's how it works for me anyway; I add at least one or two things to the Feedback Moment each day, and by default they appear at the bottom, so I edit the Moment each morning to pop the new things up to the top (you can order it by newest on top or oldest on top), and maybe also to change the cover art.


editing moment screenshot


3. Be aware of media in Moments. One of my biggest frustrations with the Moments widget is that it only displays pictures that are actually in the tweet; it does not grab preview images from news outlets as the normal Twitter view does. So, if you are keen on images in tweets (I am!), then you need to be aware that image handling is, unfortunately, not the same in a Moment. Here's a comparison of a tweet in the regular Twitter view and how it is rendered in a Moment:


screenshot of media in twitter


screenshot of media in Twitter: moment


4. Harvest from Moments. I think Moments are great for sharing via widgets, but they are not good for long-term curation. So, at least for me, the best strategy is to use a more powerful, flexible curation tool like Diigo or Pinterest to save contents that I discover; Moments are a good way to remind myself to bookmark stuff in Diigo or Pinterest as appropriate. Then, as I curate elsewhere, I often delete that item from the Moment, which has the added advantage of keeping the Moment focused and fresh also.


 Are there any other Twitter-Moment fans out there? What tips do you have?


And yes, this is part of my Feedback Project for the coming school year; here are more of my feedback posts.

I can't believe it's just two more weeks until InstructureCon, and I've got a lot to do: I need to more-or-less get my classes ready for Fall (since I'll be busy with family stuff in August), AND I have lots of pre-InstCon prep I'd like to get done. So, you can expect a lot of blog posts here in the coming days, especially on my Feedback Project, which is the focus for my class redesign this summer.


I am feeling really excited about this because feedback is a part of EVERY course design, right? So I hope that the materials I am gathering here for my own feedback-focused redesign can be useful to everybody, even if you have different goals and philosophies that drive your classes. I am putting all my feedback resources here in an open Canvas course space to share with as wide an audience as possible:

Exploring Growth Mindset: FEEDBACK


Today I set up my Padlet, which I installed in the Canvas sapce using the Redirect Tool, and then adding that to the navigation:



screenshot of Padlet for Feedback


This Padlet will serve several different purposes:

* a place to save and share graphics that I don't put in a blog post anywhere

* a place to share graphics from my blog posts (in which case I include a link to the blog post)

* a place to share graphics from students' blog posts (that will start up in the fall)

* a source of writing prompts for students to use as they learn more about feedback processes

* a source of good material for my daily class announcements


I used a general all-purpose Growth Mindset Padlet for similar purposes last year, and I think it is going to work even better with the more specific focus on Feedback this year. :-)


So, I now have my FOUR main feedback curation spaces set up and ready to go:

Diigo: where I am bookmarking lots of feedback resources, also displayed in Canvas

Padlet: with a focus on graphics / infographics, also displayed in Canvas

Feedback Cats: who have their own blog posts and who show up also in the cat randomizer

Twitter Moment: which shows up in Canvas and in my Feedback Cats blog sidebar.


As you can see, I'm all about CURATING and RE-USING resources that other people create. Most of what I share with my students is created by others. My own bit of creative work is the Feedback Cats, but those cats also depend on other people's content, as the texts are inspired by articles and infographics that others have created. 


So my advice is: don't try to create content by yourself. Instead, curate and re-purpose! It takes less time AND it results in even better content. Diigo, Padlet, and Twitter are my three favorite curation tools these days. What are your favorites?



Pandas work together to create the best content.

2 pandas working


(created with the Panda Cheezburger meme generator)

For the coming year, my focus is going to be on FEEDBACK: helping my students learn how to do a better job both giving and receiving feedback, and also learning myself how to do a better job giving and receiving feedback. That makes it a wonderful opportunity for co-learning side by side with my students. As a first step, I have retooled my existing Growth Mindset Canvas resource space to focus on feedback. Here's the link:

Exploring Growth Mindset


Feedback is a huge part of the growth mindset model, so it was easy to go back through the open course I had built two years ago and repurpose it with a feedback focus. That meant changing the homepage, now with an emphasis on feedback:


screenshot of course homepage


It also meant creating a new resource page to share all the feedback materials I am bookmarking in Diigo, both for my own learning and to share with students. Using Inoreader and Diigo RSS, I can display a live feed which will reflect new items that I find and tag in Diigo for feedback purposes! I also tagged specific subcategories too, like learning from mistakes, letting go of perfectionism, the problems of both positive feedback and negative feedback, plus some observations about grading versus feedback, etc. You can find it all here:

Feedback Articles: Exploring Growth Mindset 


feedback resources screenshot


Over the next two weeks, I'll be writing some more blog posts about how I will be weaving new feedback routines into my classes... but for now, I want to issue a challenge:




This is a chance for you to find out what happens when you create an open course space and use it both to publish resources and also to share them with others -- with your students, with fellow teachers, with anyone you can connect with online.


Have you already built an open course? If so, share the link here in the comments, and I will start building a directory of Canvas Open Course Resources!


And if you build a new open course for this challenge, it will be my pleasure to award you with 500 Community points.


I was inspired to issue this general challenge after Elizabeth Bowden completed the Canvas Open Course Challenge for InstructureCon. Here's the course Elizabeth created to save and share her #InstCon experience via  Canvas open course:

InstCon 2018 Remote Base


(I build courses using my school's Canvas system, and as Elizabeth's course shows, you can also use Instructure's Canvas Free-for-Teachers option at


Here's a screenshot, and I already learned something really cool from Elizabeth's page, which is how to embed Wakelet widgets in Canvas! Whoo-hoo!


screenshot of Elizabeth Bowden's course


So... if you have an hour or two of summertime to spare, you might create a Canvas open course, either a course for InstructureCon OR a course for a specific project related to your teaching.... and which would be of value to other teachers too!


Being able to create open Canvas courses is one of my favorite things about Canvas, and for teachers who don't already have a blog or other website of their own, this can be a great option for launching your own "online hub," a place to curate content that is valuable to you and then share it with others: CONNECT AND SHARE.


two pandas


Connected Pandas are happy pandas.

(made with the Cheezburger Panda Meme-Making Gallery)