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Community Participant

Recommendations for Canvas Roll Out in Grades 5 and 6


Our Intermediate School (Grades 5-6) will be rolling out Canvas for the 2018-2019 school year. Grades 7-12 have already had Canvas for a few years.

1. What are you general tips and suggestions for a new Canvas deployment?

2. What expectations would you have for teachers regarding their use of Canvas in the first year?
3. What expectations would you have for students?

4. What suggestions do you have for training teachers on how to use Canvas?

5. We are also a G Suite for Education school. Would you expect teachers to integrate G Suite and Canvas?

6 Replies
Community Champion

I'm a coach in the same situation, but one year ahead of you. Brace yourself:

  1. Make sure the purpose is exceedingly clear. It's more difficult at the younger grades because it's so text-heavy. We don't introduce Canvas until 6th grade in our district, mostly to prep them for more heavy use in 7th grade and beyond. We relied on building principals to help communicate the message which made it more successful.
  2. Our first year expectations were pretty light. We tried to get a core group up and running to work out any bugs early. Next year (year 2.5) we're expecting all teachers to be posting Assignments and grading in Canvas at a minimum. Those are low barriers for entry and teach some of the transferrable skills across all tools in the LMS. We also put a hard-stop on people using other platforms like Google Classroom or personal website so we could establish consistency for our students (no more wondering who has what, where). Each teacher is free to design their class to their own liking - we are not dictating the use of Pages over Modules, for example.
  3. We expected students to check regularly, if not every day. Communication is critical and having everything in one place is important for their own learning.
  4. Make sure you have a consistent message. We'd introduced Google Suite the year before, so a lot of our early PD was on the difference between Google and Canvas (a large portion of our teachers thought they were the same company). Our process was to take something they already do, like a daily agenda on the whiteboard, and post those as calendar events. They're used to Google Calendar and the Canvas interface is similar enough to make it a low bar for entry. Then we moved into creating Assignments and looking at the different submission types (see below for Google use). Once we had a good base, we started to differentiate workshops into design (Modules, Pages, customization, etc) and assessment (Outcomes, Mastery Paths, Rubrics, Quizzing) in monthly meetings. It's worked well because everyone started with the same skillset and then differentiated into their interests. Next year, we'll probably have a heavier push on tagging Outcomes on all assignments and then move into standards based grading.
  5. We're also Google Suite and our message was simple: Google is your filing cabinet, Canvas is your transaction. My students never see my Google Drive because I give them what they need through Canvas, which simplifies things a lot. We turned on the Google Drive LTI app to make getting documents in and out easy. We also made sure to really push the power of the Web URL submission so they can see a live version of a document. The other really nice thing about having both is that you can mitigate Canvas file upload limits by linking to Drive documents rather than uploading into the course. Teachers work in collaborative teams to prep and maintain material and then push it into Canvas as they teach.

It's a big, big process and the important thing to remember is that many people have never used a system like this, particularly if you're in an aging district like mine. We constantly asked for feedback and checked our desire to push forward with what the teachers actually need in the moment. Tying everything you can do (or what you expect people to do) to old habits (photocopying is an analogy to linking a Google Doc in an Assignment, for example) helped people make the connections to be successful.

Feel free to email any time if you have specific questions.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi there,  @wilcoxk ...

Since your questions will likely have more than one possible solution, I am going to change the format of this topic from a "Question" to a "Discussion".  A "Question" typically will have one "correct" answer, where a "Discussion" is more open-ended and will have multiple solutions to accomplish the same thing...a true "discussion".

Also, I am going to share your question with the group here in the Canvas Community in hopes that your questions will get some additional exposure.  If you are not yet following this group, please click on the link that I have provided, and then click on the "Follow" button at the top right corner of the page.  Also, in that same area, you may need to click on the "Actions" >> "Join group" menu option.

I hope these things will be helpful for you, Kyle.

Community Participant

Thanks Chris. I've been helping teachers with Canvas for over a year now, but I'm brand new to using the Canvas Community. Thanks for the explanations! I joined that group as well.

Community Champion

Hi Kyle

I wrote a post about a Canvas Day that we did with our Year 6 students (top end of Junior school) to get them familiar and ready for Senior school. You can find it here - How we introduced Canvas to our Junior schools - It was a one off event but hugely successful.

I wrote some ideas about our first Year of Canvas here which has a few good points and transferable ideas (I think) - Blank Canvas.... Thoughts about getting started

As someone who works with Office365 and despite its irritations, it make a BIG BIG difference! I would get Google LTI up and running straight away. A huge win for you and staff will be to continue using the resources they had before and also to have them available to students outside of lessons. The integration was designed by Canvas and it ticks all the boxes including the ability to embed any Google application in a Canvas page and also access to Shared folder of resources (something missing with the Microsoft LTI).

Personally speaking, try to get as much interactive and visually stimulating stuff on Canvas. I encourage staff to try to embed resources to get them to appear on the page as opposed to behind a link. I have collated a few of the best tools on this link Embedding Web 2.0 Tools and I cannot rate H5P - Free Interactive Content Creation with HTML5 more highly. It takes a little bit of work but the results are awesome AND free!

A couple of final point which I am sure you have already considered/are using. Get a good team around you who will promote and share best practice. Create expertise in different areas and encourage people to visit them. Ensure you have a mechanism in school to do the sharing - try not to make all of it by electronic communication.

Finally, get the students involved as critical friends. Have them form a Digital Focus Group to feed back on practice and share. Students will get a huge kick out of it and the replies you will get will always be well judged, hugely incisive and above all done with respect.

If you can involve digital badging via Badgr in any way to enourage staff engagement and participation DO IT!!!!

Community Coach
Community Coach

Brilliant discussion starter Kyle.

And splendid answers already from Brian and  @GideonWilliams 

We have only just begun our Canvas journey in Tasmania this year. Lots of interest in Grades 7-10. K-6 are seeing the purpose mainly as a collaborative space for teachers. This is fabulous in that they can get to grips with what Canvas can do in so many ways, then hopefully transfer it to their teaching. Fingers crossed.

Once people become familiar with the tools available in Canvas and some ways to manipulate them to suit a variety of ways to suit their situation then progress will be made. Especially when they have a purpose of their own! Horse Before the Cart. Purpose first, Canvas second. 

I agree with Gideon re Office 365. What a brilliant suite to use collaboratively. Collaborations – Changed my world! 

If you get a chance would you be able to add some screen shots here of some cool ideas?  Ta.

Keep us posted with what is working/not working or you. The Community will appreciate it!

Sound advice and some great posts! Will add a link of my Secondary home pages to the Primary Elementary Home page site and vice cersa.