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.