My school has been using Canvas as its learning management system (LMS) for the past three years. At the elementary level, we were using Canvas primarily to communicate with parents. Before last spring, there was limited, if any, curriculum content shared in the platform. This year all teachers will be posting their lessons using Canvas. Our students will be returning to face-to-face instruction. We also have families who have chosen a remote learning option.
Keeping all of this in mind here is how I have organized my Canvas page. Please know, I am not an expert in Canvas by any means! This is just what I think will work for my students.
Currently, I have a course blueprint. This allows me to set up a course and load it with everything that will be included for all of my courses. This course has no students enrolled. Then I have a course for each grade level. The students are enrolled in each of these courses. The IT department then connects my blueprint with my grade-level course (don’t ask me how…it’s magic!), and then I am able to customize things for each grade level from there.
Our pages are not public, but below is a video of my homepage. The focus was on keeping things as simple as possible for both students and parents. My school gave teachers a template to follow so that there would be consistency between courses.
I made my buttons using Canva. In keeping simplicity in mind, I decided to keep them all the same. I added a number at the top of each button to help when giving directions and allow students to quickly find what they are looking for. This will also help when working with remote learners.
I have hidden many of the options on my sidebar too. It makes the page easier for users to navigate. My sidebar only has three options: Home, Modules, and Google Drive. To update the sidebar watch this video.
Lessons in Modules
All of our lessons will be shared using modules. This will allow students to progress through from one task to the next. It will help them navigate what needs to be completed. I can also set the requirements so that students move through the lesson in sequential order. Each will be listed with the lesson number as well as the date range. These lessons will be both synchronous and asynchronous.
With each module, I am going to include a different emoji. This will help when giving directions. I can tell students that we are completing everything with a certain image. In the example above you can see this module includes a blue heart. Additionally, each module will include an End of the Lesson page. This will help students know when they have reached the end of the lesson. All of these ideas came from tips and tricks in this video.
There are some great opportunities to learn more! There are several Facebook groups you can join including one called Canvas for Librarians and Canvas for Elementary (Teachers). Both groups have been so helpful in sharing ideas and answering questions.
In one of these Facebook groups a professional development series called Canvas Campout was shared. This is a six-part series that allows you to work through small bits of Canvas at a time.
There is also an elementary teacher named Suzy Lolley who has a YouTube channel called Canvas for Littles. She is amazing and gives some very practical tips and tricks to make Canvas work best in an elementary classroom.
Since school has not started yet, I am sure this will change based on the needs of the students, teachers, and parents. Do you use Canvas? What is working for your elementary school students? I would love to hear your ideas!
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a librarian for the past nine years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I was most recently a member of ALA’s Ready to Code (RtC) Task Force.