As a Kindergarten teacher I spent my first year with Canvas in a love-hate relationship. I saw all the new and inventive things other teachers were doing and wanted to do the same with my young students. I spent most of Year 1 getting frustrated because I couldn’t do what others were doing.
Then Year 2 came. I decided to stop trying to have my 5 year old students do what 10, 12, and 14 year olds were doing and just focus on the basics. This was a game changer for me. I stopped the negativity and only focused on the positives. The “what would work” instead of the “what wouldn’t work.”
So I started at the most basic task-logging into Canvas. Some may underestimate how difficult a task this is. Students must be able to match numbers and letters as well as be able to identify what is an uppercase letter and what is a lowercase letter to know when to use the shift key. (Anyone who thinks this sounds easy are welcome to stop in a kindergarten room in the fall!) We spent months learning how to log in independently, but we finally got there! Every single one of my students can log into Canvas on their own! (You’re welcome 1st grade teachers!).
With that hurdle crossed, we could move on to actually using Canvas! Yes, my kindergartners are using tools in Canvas. Are we using all of the wonderful parts and pieces? No way. But that is where I stopped worrying about using everything and focused on just a small portion. With the help of our e-learning team, my students can now record themselves reading their weekly book ,which saves me so much time from before when I would frantically try to get to every student. Now I can listen to them read at my own time and be able to plan small group lessons based on the type of errors they are making. My students also record themselves reading sight word lists during our center time.
Being able to use the media recorder and learning how to upload and submit their assignments has been the game changer in my room! For everyone that says the little ones can’t use Canvas-they are so wrong. Canvas just needs to be used at an appropriate level for them. It’s really about just giving them the opportunity to try. My goal was to give them a foundation to build upon as they move through the grade levels. My advice to those hesitant to put devices into their young students’ hands is to focus on what they can do and the rest will follow.
Melody Williams is a kindergarten teacher in her 9th year of teaching at Richmond Community Schools. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from IU East and a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Childhood Education from Wright State University. Melody has previously taught Reading Recovery and Special Education although her passion lies in kindergarten. In 2015, she earned REA Teacher of the Month and in 2016, was named Crestdale Elementary Teacher of the Year. Melody and her husband, Lee, have two young children, Kyson and Kynsie, who keep them very busy. In her spare time, Melody enjoys spending time with her friends and family.