Canvas is great!
It allows for new, exciting methods of content delivery, makes grading easier, and creates the possibility or e-learning days instead of snow days. But math teachers everywhere are begging to know--will it let students graph?
As of right now, the answer is no. None of the current Canvas integrations allow for graphing. Guess that means it’s time to get creative!
Thinking about graphing in assessment form? An easy workaround is to provide multiple choices that allow for various misunderstandings of the graphing method that you’re assessing. For example, graph lines with y-intercepts where the x-intercepts should be or include parabolas with answers that allow for misunderstandings of the method. Save them as images and upload the images as possible answers to a graphing multiple choice problem. The drawbacks? Multiple choice allows for students with no understanding of a concept a percent chance to accidentally get a question right.
What if, due to the ISTEP or iLEARN, you want your students to practice graphing online? Some may consider it inconvenient, but registering a class on Khan Academy is free and allows teachers to see individual student progress on a single competency-based skill. This includes all forms of graphing, where students will need to come up with numerical values themselves instead of just a multiple-choice test.
There are plenty of other graphing integrations that do require a license, such as iXL or ALEKS. While those aren’t available for free at Richmond, they are definitely something to keep an eye on in the future.
Are you just in the S portion of the SAMR model? You should check out the blog post Desmosify Your Worksheet, which is about integrating the graphing software Desmos into your worksheets to allow for deeper discussion and discovery.
There are definitely other methods. If you have working knowledge of HTML5, you can create bar graphs that can be manipulated in Canvas along with other graphs. Plenty of HTML5 websites exist, and they’re the first thing that pop up when you search for “graphing” and “Canvas.” Consider playing around with these already-made codes in your sandbox to see if you like the way they work in your course.
As a reminder, sometimes there are things that just work better when students can create them with their hands. You’ll have to consider whether graphing is one of those things for you. When consulting high school students at Zionsville (a fellow Canvas school), many reported that they don’t assess graphing on Canvas.
I recognize that these are just a few fairly simplistic ideas to get started, but we all have to start somewhere! If you come up with any cool ideas, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.
Today's thoughts come to us from Mr. Hunter Lambright. Mr. Lambright teaches high school algebra and AP Statistics. He graduated from Ball State University with a BA in Psychology and from Earlham College with an MA in Teaching. Currently, he is the Richmond High School student council sponsor and is the assistant coach to both the cross country and track teams.
One of my goals this year, once I learned more about Canvas, was to discover how I can help the elementary folks I support find ways to create interactive content into their Canvas to make it more engaging for their level of students.
I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s HECC (Hoosier Educational Computer Coordinators) Conference. One particular session I attended provided us the opportunity to share out some tools people had found that were helpful in their district. My biggest takeaway was the website h5p.org – it was a website/tool that got me all giddy inside. With h5p.org teachers are able to create their own interactive content and it is all free. The presenter made it sound so great and wonderful and free-we all love free. I signed up instantly and started playing.
I didn't get very far. I wanted to make a drag and drop game. I followed the instructions, watched the video and was excited to launch. I added it to my Canvas page and NOTHING. Ok, so that was a failure, and I was mad because this colleague talked about how easy it was. I came to the conclusion that easy to her and easy to me were obviously two different things.
Fast forward, 3.5 months. I got back in the site and started playing again and added the content I made to my Canvas page and TA DA....I had an interactive tool that WORKED. Between my initial try and my successful attempt - I learned how to embed content in Canvas.
Had I asked 3.5 months before I could've found out the ease of embedding, but I was too stubborn to ask my fellow office mates. By the time I had learned to embed I had put the h5p.org site out of my mind. I was too frustrated because I had been with a teacher when my “failure” happened.
Lesson learned – don't be afraid to just play with a new tool. Chances are, it might not work perfectly the first time.
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill
Interested in h5p.org?
h5p.org will allow you to create many different interactive games. You can build a memory game, drag and drop, fill in the blank, find a hotspot, guess the answer, arithmetic quizzes, and many more. My hope was that other teachers would be as excited as me about this find. They could replace their paper/pencil versions of things and embed these activities into their Canvas courses using the content they wanted to get across. This will also allow the students to practice the technology enhanced items they see on ISTEP.
Their step by step tutorials are very helpful and walk you through the process. As a tip, if you're "cloning" their template (which I would suggest) don't forget to delete their images, text, etc. and add your own.
Joani Sullivan is in her 10th year at Richmond Community Schools. She spent 7 of those years as a 5th/6th grade classroom teacher and Interventionist. She spent 2 years as an Instructional Coach and this year was able to move into the eLearning Specialist position. This is one of her favorite years yet! When Joani isn’t working at school, she is spending time with her husband of almost 11 years and their 6 year old son. She also has an identical twin sister that works in an office in town and many former students mix them up.
A journey with Canvas LMS is like building a tent. Every step has been a process. My journey began about a year ago when I was selected to serve on the committee charged with finding a Learning Management System (LMS) that would meet the needs of our school district. Just like in camping, we had to start by searching for an LMS that would provide a strong foundation with few ruts. After sitting through many presentations, I knew Canvas was it.
At the beginning of this school year, I could not wait to start learning how to use Canvas. I already knew where I wanted to go, but I didn’t know how to get there. Here is where the support comes in. I spent hours with our district E-Learning Specialist. Together we began building the tent. I learned how to build my Homepage. The specialist helped me make pages and upload pictures so the pages were eye catching. Just like pitching a tent, it took several hours of hard work. Once it was done, I had pages that would house my learning for the week.
The next step was to build the fire of interest. Without this fire, there would be no need for the tent. I spent weeks allowing my students to log into Canvas and explore what was available. I soon began to post the vocabulary words and the spelling words for the week. My students were required to use the computers or iPads to log in and complete their stations. One week, one of our spelling words was pessimistic. A parent shared with me that her son was arguing with his grandmother over something and the child asked his mom for her phone. She gave it to him and he logged onto Canvas. He looked for the word pessimistic and pointed to it and told the grandmother that she was being very pessimistic.
Once the fire was lit, I had to learn what else I could use Canvas for. I was lucky enough to be selected to be part of the Next Gen Leadershiop Cadre; here was where the sky became the limit. I learned to tweet, blog, and create content through this program. My students have learned to navigate through the modules. In fact, one student finished a module and asked when I would be posting the next one.
“Once the fire was lit, I had to learn what else I could use Canvas for."
I have not completed my journey with Canvas. I have just begun to think about where I can take my students next. With Canvas, anything is possible because of how user friendly it is.
Today's post comes to us from Jeanne Hendricks. Jeanne is a third grade teacher. She has been impacting children's lives in the classroom for 15 years. Jeanne is married and has three wonderful college-aged children.
Oh, Valentine’s Day. The day when love is in the air, couples become closer, and we spend too much money on flowers that will die within a week.
However, this Valentine’s Day I have a new love in my life.
This love began so innocently, so subtly, and I was head over heels before I even knew it.
It began with a few meetings.
No big deal I thought, we’d get together a few times and go from there.
But once or twice was just not enough. The passion I begin to feel consumed me.
I began thinking about my new love day and night. Thinking of the things we would do together. Thinking of how we would work as a team.
Now, I meet my love almost every day, even on the weekends. My time at home is spent with my love as I plan for our future. We usually meet with the lights dimmed and spend some quiet time alone.
As time goes on, I want more and more. Sure, we’ve had our moments when we have not always gotten along, but isn’t that part of every relationship?
But like every relationship, things seem to get better the longer we’re together. I know what to expect, I know what will happen when I do certain things and I know how to get what I want.
Sure, maybe this relationship sounds a little one sided to you. But that’s OK. I am happy. And I know if my love can keep me happy then everything will be fine.
You see, it hasn’t even been a year yet, but I have fallen in love with Canvas.
I never dreamed at my age a new relationship could be so passionate, but I can’t imagine teaching without using Canvas.
My entire thought process has changed. Now I think about how I can better help my students understand my subject through using Canvas to enhance their learning experience.
And like any good relationship, it only gets better with time.
Today's post comes to us from Mr. Jeff Gabbard. Jeff is the journalism and photography teacher at Richmond High School.
Schools have a choice whether to embrace or ignore technology.
Do we want our kids being prepared for their futures by a system that hasn’t fundamentally changed in 125 years? We would not want our dentist to work in our mouth with tools from 125 years ago. We should want our students being taught with 21st Century devices. Educators need to encourage their students by embracing technology and using it to foster higher order thinking skills. Integrating technology into the classroom should happen across the curriculum in ways that promote active engagement, collaboration and create real-world connections for students. When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, students take charge of their own learning and teachers become an advisers or coaches. For example, students are being able to Skype a famous musician in New York or a Social Studies class interacting with an explorer in the Amazon Rain Forest. Students are able to make connections around the world. As the world becomes more and more technology dependent, educators need to teach our student how to be tech savvy and responsible cyber citizens.
Today's post comes from Christopher Ross. Christopher is a 1992 Knox High School graduate. He has a bachelor degree in Supervision/Psychology and two Master degrees in Education. This is Christopher's 16th year working in Education. During his career he has been a school counselor, technology instructional leader, assistant principal and principal. Christopher loves working for Richmond Community Schools
A couple months ago, I started out on a journey with approximately 20 other RCS Teachers/Leaders called Cadre, through IUPUI. It meant that I would be out of my classroom once a month gaining new and useful information to put into place, and help fellow teachers integrate Canvas into the classroom. Thinking that I was going to simply learn about Canvas, I quickly found out I was wrong. I was gaining so much more than just Canvas use for the classroom.
One day a student asked, “Ms. Benner, what exactly are you doing when you are gone?” Wondering what had prompted this question, I quickly realized the corporation had posted pictures of our group sitting around a table staring at large screens. I’m sure my student thought, “They are doing nothing!” I quickly decided to change my lesson, and show the class just what I had ‘been up to’ while I was gone.
The J’Touch Board went on, I signed into my Canvas account, and BANG! The “Oooooohhhhs, what is that!?!?” “Ms. BENNER, IT’S STAR WARS!!!” (That’s our classroom theme this year.) “What does THAT do?!!?” Logging into my account was all it took to get my classroom hooked. I spent the next hour going over what I had set up on my homepage: About Me, Newsletters, Schedules, Procedures, Modules (Where Reading and Math is located.), Resources, Standards, Communication, and how each button worked. The immediate next question was “When can WE get on that?” I told them that I was working on the module that they would be starting as soon as we came back from Christmas Break.
With that, I had students figuring out how to log into Canvas on their own! They were excited to watch as I worked on making changes to the homepage, e-mailing me through Canvas that they had leveled up on Lexia, truly excited to get started! After finishing the module, again I pulled up the homepage and explained to the students what they needed to do. My classroom does not have 1:1 technology. We do, however, have four computers at the back of the room for the students to cycle through during stations, and I have purchased four iPads for another station that you will hear about in a later blog. Also, not all of my students are able to access Canvas at home. The work for the majority of the students was completed in 20 minute rotations. Again, I heard “This is so cool!” “I never knew this was possible!” “I can’t wait to get started!”
As I watched my students rotate through, I had three or four that thrived! They became my “Canvas Gurus”! Without me having to ask, they were helping others as they got stuck with what to do next, or where to click. I was able to run my reading groups, and it was smooth sailing! My students quickly figured out how to have discussions responding to each other, take quizzes, access video links, and fill in Google Docs. I was able to embed videos that reviewed topics and links to stories for them to read.
As the end of the month was coming to a close, I started a new discussion about what they liked about Canvas so far, or what needed to be changed as I looked ahead to a new module. “Nothing needs to be changed Ms. Benner; I LOVE it just the way it is.” “Ms. Benner, Canvas is so much easier for me. I do better with the quizzes here. Thanks.”
The energy that Canvas has brought to my classroom is amazing. The teamwork and drive to finish the modules is refreshing. Students ask me to ensure that they have finished work, as they don’t want anything left undone. They are begging me to get the Math side up and going! All of this with simply using four computers at the back of my classroom. I can only imagine what would happen if I had 1:1 in my room. Does it take time to build the modules, to ensure that I’m giving my kids the best they deserve? Sure it does, but it’s worth it watching their reactions and reading their responses in the discussion boards!
Born and raised in Richmond, Kathy Benner graduated from RHS in ‘97. She attended IU East and earned an Associate's Degree in General Studies and a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. Kathy started her teaching career in Centerville, IN and came to Richmond in 2008. In 2011, she earned the No Excuses Award and REA Teacher of the Month. Kathy has taught Special Ed, 1st, 4th, 5th, but the majority of her career has been in 3rd grade. She loves working with technology: Spheros, Ollies, and Osmo. In her spare time Kathy enjoys singing, playing guitar, and putting together Lego sets.
I remember the good old days of education back in the 80’s. There was nothing like getting that worksheet hot of the ditto machine. The purple hue of the print made my little first grade heart rejoice in exaltation. Something about purple print just made those dark gray worksheets pulled out of my math workbook seem somehow just….meh! But the ditto worksheet had more than just purple print. It had an aroma that I wish someone would turn into a scented candle. That smell should be immortalized for future generations to enjoy. I’ll move on from nostalgia to get to my point. The ditto machine was a technological evolution from the workbook. No longer did a teacher need to rely on a company for content. The teacher could now create and curate content for the students in a way that he/she hadn’t been able to do before. I’m sure the teachers of the time were thrilled especially when they found out that curation could come in the form of lamination. They could laminate that content and use it over and over and over and over. Lamination is a forever thing! But did things really change?
Looking through the eyes of an educator and not a 1st grader, I can see that regardless of my fond memories of ditto worksheets, even though they were created by the teacher, they too were…just meh! Last school year our district started to explore different learning management systems (LMS) to go along with our transition into a more 1:1 setting - we decided on Canvas. A new way for us to create and curate. Sound familiar? I have to say as a district leader I was reluctant. Not because of fear of technology or the amount of work it requires to be put into implementing and growing in this area. I was reluctant because I could see the potential for an LMS to become like a ditto machine & laminator. A digital laminator- to curate content to be used over and over and over and over with no thought to instruction. I found a quote by David Geurin that summed up my thoughts and feelings exactly. He wrote,
If you change the technology but don’t change the lesson…nothing really changes.
For me his quote hit home and has become part of the filter through which I viewed our district’s continual digital evolution. So we have changed the technology in our district but have we really changed what’s most important? Yes, we have started to change what’s important not just for today’s learners but we are helping everyone in our district to be responsible for their own learning and together we are all become future oriented learners.
We have made a shift and I can offer you many examples of that shift; however, I’m going to just offer up what I believe is the biggest shift in our mindsets in terms of technology. Our conversations and learning have become less about the how to use Canvas or why Twitter chats or how to use an app or even should we be making a digital shift. Our conversations have changed to how can we get our students to think like an engineer, doctor, lawyer, artist, entrepreneur, or that profession in the future that we don’t yet know about and then we talk about what is the tool our students can use to find what they need so that they can create and show the world what they can do. I’m confident that as long as we keep the conversation about the mindset of instruction, I don’t believe anyone in the future will write about their found memories of an LMS being a digital laminator like I wrote about my found memories of those aromatic purple worksheets. So in parting I leave you this thought: Someday that learning management system or that ipad will go the way of the ditto so don’t forget that what we do is really about how to create and curate relevant instruction.
Corey Hartley is a lifelong Hoosier, Marine, educator, husband, and father. After many glorious days in his beloved Corps, he returned to Indiana to become a teacher. Dr. Hartley attended Ball State where he earned a doctorate degree in education. He has served many roles in education: Elementary teacher, assistant principal, principal and currently Director of Elementary Education. He is the one wearing a tie in the picture.
As a teacher I always felt like a critical part of my job was to support my students in there learning. As a math teacher I felt like I got a disproportionate amount of moans and groans from students (and parents) when it came to mastering the wonderful world of mathematics. And unfortunately it didn’t matter if I was teaching, middle school, high school or at the college level my first encounter with students every year or semester was that of anxiety. I soon realized that I had to try and see what they were seeing in order to best understand their frustration. I would often times share with them the struggles that I too had in math at the college level. I tried to get them to understand that we all have those moments where we struggle and that if we worked together we could overcome this mountain called math.
Fast forward to this year where our district is facing a monumental task in preparing to deploy laptops to 1400 high school students and anther 1500 5th through 12th graders. And in this year of preparation we are asking teachers to begin the process of redesigning their instructional practices as we look to start utilizing a tool that will allow students to have access to the world around them 24 hours a day. The feeling of uncertainty from teachers is there. The moans and groans remind of those days as a classroom teacher. And like those students I truly think teachers want to learn math but they only know some of the past failures of introducing technology to students. They tend to want to dwell on the struggles as opposed to the possibilities. And then on top of this all you have principals who are in charge of leading these teachers into the unknown, not fully knowing what the future holds when it comes to classroom instruction, classroom management and just the overall task of managing all of these devices.
So what did I do? I made the principals uncomfortable. I made them as uncomfortable as I could possibly make them by blending my leadership using technology. We did this together for 30 straight instructional days. I called it 30 Days in Canvas. (I know, brilliant) I assigned them online tasks while incorporating face-to-face interactions. Discussions, quizzes, reflections and other learning opportunities similar to what a teacher might engage their students in during the semester. Why? Well it’s quite simple. I wanted them to better understand what their teachers would be going through as we began to blend our classrooms into engaging technology enriched learning spaces. I wanted to show them that it could be done. That we could transform the way we operate our meetings and conversations, blending some traditional concepts with new and innovative ways.
So the big question is did it work?
I got my answer the day a teacher said something like this,“You know the teachers in our building have really bought into this process. I think a big reason for that is that we see our principal right there learning with us.”