The beginning of the school year brings new excitement, new students, new expectations and experiences. This year, there’s one more new thing to add to the list. Elementary courses in Canvas have gotten a makeover! That’s right: the head-turning new look is designed to improve the learning experience for younger students by providing a simpler and more student-friendly interface that reflects the typical elementary classroom experience. Some of the new Canvas for elementary theme features and benefits include:
- New visual Homeroom Dashboard organized by subjects
- Easy access to announcements and important information
- Simplified navigation with tab icons as visual cues
- Updated fonts making letters and numbers more distinguishable
Many elementary teachers have already embraced the new changes and have incorporated Canvas into their lessons this school year. What ways are teachers using Canvas with younger learners? How have the new features impacted the student learning experience and learner behavior? Here’s what several of Arlington ISD’s elementary teachers shared about their experience with the new Canvas for Elementary theme:
Melanie Gill, Amos Elementary 3rd Grade Math & Science
Canvas is a great tool to deliver resources, activities and engage my students in their learning. It also provides me with a quick, easy way to do formative assessments. I have utilized Canvas to present lessons, complete learning activities and give quizzes as exit tickets. The new features that I find most impactful are the schedule feature and the homeroom feature. These features make navigation much easier and allow students to quickly find what tech corner assignments are due for the day or any missing assignments they might have. Previously, they had a more difficult time navigating Canvas and locating their daily activities. The new Canvas for elementary is simplified and more user friendly for younger students.
Karin Castaneda, Webb Elementary 4th Grade Math & Science
I have decided to start the new school year incorporating Canvas into my lessons because it makes it easier for the students and myself to keep important information as well as assignments organized. We use it for class work, exit tickets and activities like Pixel Arts for Math. It makes it easier for students to stay organized and get faster feedback through comments from me when I use SpeedGrader to grade their exit tickets. This is a new, friendlier and easier version for my students to use.
Melissa Eldredge Miller Elementary 6th Grade Science
Ever since the pandemic when I really became proficient with Canvas, I have come to rely on it to deliver information and digital media to my students and to give them assignments that allow them to practice using the new STAAR question formats. I also appreciate that Canvas will immediately grade most assignments for me. I think the students like having their homeroom as their homepage. It eliminates some confusion about where they should look or go. They can see a quick overview of their Canvas grades for all their subjects there. I also post a link to our school‘s daily announcement videos in the homeroom so students can view them as they have time each day. I really like the reduced menu choices for the students. It takes a minute to get used to, but just like any new technology, you quickly adapt and once you settle in, you almost can’t remember what the old interface was like.
Gliced Torres, Elena Davila, Liz Saucedo, Irma Febo – Corey Academy 5th Grade Team
Since the pandemic, we have all been using Canvas as our primary source of classwork/station work. All four of us have worked separately and together to transfer our favorite paper and pencil activities to Canvas for several reasons. Canvas provides our students with a clear and organized daily task list, which allows them to manage their assignments more effectively. It offers realtime feedback on their work which encourages them to take ownership of their grades. Canvas even promotes interaction between our students and us using written discussions and peer reviews. Parents can stay informed about their child’s assignments and daily performance on Canvas. We also teach our students to use Canvas Inbox to send and receive messages that help us address problems and answer questions quickly. So far, we are using Canvas to provide classwork and practice for our students. We provide assignments in reading, writing and social studies that students access on Canvas but that they then complete using Canva, Google slides and Discovery Ed. In math, students use their cameras to record the evidence of their math work and create anchor charts to showcase their learning. The simpler design makes Canvas more user friendly for our young students. Having access to Canvas’ features using fewer steps helps them to navigate their work more easily. It
also seems more intuitive for them, and the process seems like it has been seamless. We haven’t had as many problems with them navigating the modules as we have in the past.
Jared Kronawitter, Amos Elementary, 6th grade Math and ScienceI have chosen to incorporate Canvas into my lessons so that students can get as much exposure as possible to digital manipulatives and the new STAAR question types. This year, my students have built compounds with digital manipulatives of the chemical symbols. For the new STAAR question types, I’ve created math exit tickets and used the sorting question type for science assignments. I think the most impactful new feature is the homeroom option. Students only need to go to one place to check announcements instead of going in and out of multiple subjects to check announcements. All these features and the additional organizational tools aid my students as they start the transition to learning at the junior high level.