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Whether you are a pro at using Canvas (Learning Management System) or have just been tossed into it now, you will know how frustrating it can be at first glance. Canvas does not feel intuitive, especially for art teachers. It will get easier the more you use it and figure out how to make it work for you and your teaching style. Using Canvas with Google products seems tricky at first. However, with a few adjustments, this duo can enhance organization and student learning.
Use Google Slides to create daily agendas and Google Calendar to help students keep track of their overall schedule.
When making a Slides Agenda, make sure to put the most current date at the top of the slide deck. This way, today’s agenda slide will always be what students see first, and then they can scroll through to the next date to see what they missed during an absence.
To create a homepage:
To embed Google Slides on your home page:
To embed a Google Calendar on your home page:
Now, every time you add a slide, change or modify the content, or update your calendar, your Canvas home page will automatically be updated in real-time.
Label each module with a unit name or length of time, so students know where you are in the learning process. For example, “Unit 1: Shading with Value” can have assignments, tasks, quizzes, etc. in one module that relate to your unit on value. You can set up your units (modules) ahead of time and lock them, so students only see the unit or units you are working on at any given time.
Don’t reinvent the wheel each semester. Instead, import content from the previous year and modify it as needed. You can move unused content to the bottom for later or delete it altogether.
To import content from a previous course:
When building a course, it can be very helpful to make a “fake course” to create a skeleton or framework of where you want to go. By creating this unpublished course, you can always come back to add more—creating a storage location for the course. You can also share this course with your team and collaboratively add material to share.
Help students navigate where you want them to by hiding excess tools. If you leave “Assignments” or “Discussions” in the sidebar, students will click on those to access their tasks. Instead, have students navigate through and within the unit (module) to get to their tasks. This will ensure they read all the required content instead of jumping to the task.
To modify your side toolbar:
In each module, provide video tutorials or review content by linking YouTube videos or Google Slides. Once they have watched your lesson, you can use Canvas Quizzes or Discussion Boards to check they not only accessed the content but also understood it. You can also make all items required within a module so students must navigate through each task in the unit.
We are constantly updating our content, fixing a typo, or clarifying our expectations. Why not do this in real-time instead of re-uploading files constantly? When you share content from Google, make sure the link is set to “view only,” so students don’t accidentally change your content.
When students place a finished artwork in a Google Slides Portfolio or Google Doc, they can add all sorts of key information such as reflection comments and annotations to their work. Using a link allows you to access that shared document and provide feedback through comments directly on the slide or document. Ensure privacy settings allow others to view or edit; otherwise, you will have to request access each time a student submits.
When you create a template in Google, you can ensure all students have the content you are asking from them. Using this real-time document, students can collaborate or you can delegate the expectations, so students teach each other.
Students can use a copy of your template to answer questions, for example. When you copy the link, make sure to change the extension to “/copy.” This will automatically prompt students to make a copy, so they won’t accidentally edit your class template document.
Students can also add to your collaborative document or slide. In Google Slides, you can make your expectation slide a template where students can copy and paste to create their own slide in the deck. Or, you can create different slides for students to choose from or assign, so each student contributes to a larger learning document.
When you change the color or image that appears in your dashboard for each of your classes, your students will see it as well. This is a great way to personalize your course and give students a visual cue when they have six other classes on their dashboard.
To change the color of your course in the dashboard, click on the three vertical dots on the right side of your course, then check the color you want.
To add a personalized image to your dashboard courses:
There are many different ways to organize your content using Canvas. When you get more adept at using this Learning Management System, you can create cohorts and groupings to help you manage students in hybrid and at home. However, these basic tips will get you headed in the right direction to help you build your Canvas confidence!
How do you set up your Canvas site to support student learning?
What questions do you have about Canvas as you plan for the new school year?
What tips or tricks have been helpful to you when using Google and Canvas combined?