Learning S'more Together at Camp Canvas: Virginia Beach City Public Schools


For many of us, summertime means beach trips, spending time with friends or family, and…camping!

To celebrate summer and the pilot of Canvas LMS, their new learning management system, Virginia Beach City Public Schools took campers (aka educators) to Camp Canvas twice this year–in June and August.

Here, we’re going to cover some highlights from Camp Canvas:

What is Camp Canvas?

Camp Canvas was an all-day workshop hosted twice this summer by Virginia Beach City Public Schools. A combined total of over 1,400 campers attended between the June and August sessions. In these jam-packed days, camp counselors (aka teachers, instructional coaches, and other facilitators) shared their wisdom on all-things Canvas by Instructure: from course design to SEL, modules, Canvas Studio, and more!

We sent our Principal Learning Consultant, David Dick, to experience the event in-person. After attending, he said:

I had the opportunity to attend Camp Canvas in June and August.  To have 1,400 teachers attend an optional all-day workshop was amazing to see! The planning, structure and overall experience was second to none.  Working with Virginia Beach is a unique experience since they are the 4th largest school division in the state at around 65,000 students. I can't wait to see how they turn last years' success in their pilot of Canvas [LMS] into their first year using it throughout the entire division. 

Brittany Ferguson, Camp Director and Instructional Technology Specialist at Red Mill Elementary School, led campers on their journey to prepare for a new learning management system. When describing the vision behind Camp Canvas, Ferguson said:

“As our division piloted Canvas [LMS] with a select group of elementary and secondary schools, we knew we wanted to create a learning experience unlike any other. We know changing an LMS can be stressful for educators, so why not make it fun and engaging?! Perhaps, the most positive feedback centered around the structures of our session: workshop style, with the opportunity for teachers to create, collaborate, and take risks with Canvas [LMS]!”

Ahead of kick-off, all campers were encouraged to participate, put their learning to work, and share their camp stories on Twitter with #vbcampcanvas.

Counselors' Kick-Off: A Big Camp Canvas Welcome

Both sessions started with the entire camp coming together to kick things off. Counselors sang, danced, and gave an overview of what the day would look like. The #1 Camp Canvas Hypewoman (aka Director of Instructional Technology), Dr. Sharon Shewbridge shared a ghost story about their last LMS and got everyone excited about the path ahead with Canvas LMS.

Learning Trails for Everyone: Elementary, Secondary, & Administrators

After kick-off, campers got to choose their path for the day from several trails (aka schedules) personalized to both their grade level and comfort with technology. 

Empowering educators with voice and choice experiences such as these in their professional learning have been shown to elevate teacher engagement and student outcomes.

And with a full day of learning prepared for them, campers were off to explore! Elementary and secondary campers engaged with presentations full of content tailored to their needs–module design to app integrations and grading and feedback.

Giveaways, Food Trucks, and S’moresels

Between sessions throughout the day, campers could make stops at the canteen for snacks, pick up tickets for giveaways, or hear a bite-sized S’moresel (aka a short session full of 5-10 pro tips on topics like messaging and course naming in Canvas LMS.) 

After a learning-filled morning, campers refueled and connected over lunch provided by local food trucks.

Together on the Trail to Canvas LMS Success

For the rest of the day, campers continued on their learning trails, practicing their new Canvas LMS skills, and planning for the upcoming year. 

Many educators know the pain of sitting through a day of professional development that is boring, passive, or irrelevant. 

According to our State of Teaching and Learning report, high-quality teachers remain a top factor in student achievement. Now, more than ever, it’s important to provide educators professional learning experiences like Camp Canvas that elevate their voice, give them choice, and enable them to keep learning, all while having a blast.

Brittany Ferguson and the rest of the team at Virginia Beach City Public Schools proved with Camp Canvas that professional learning can be fun with sessions that are well-planned and meaningful.

When asked about their experience at Camp Canvas, campers gave overwhelmingly positive feedback:

Everything was great! I learned so much by getting time to actually work within Canvas [LMS] but we still had the support of the presenters, thank you! - Educator from Pembrooke Elementary

I really felt that every instructor was professional, knowledgeable, and helpful. It was a very upbeat event and I am so happy I attended! I was most appreciative of the ability to work in Canvas [LMS] with the instructors present and willing to help and offer tips. I like "hands-on" learning. Thank you so much for this opportunity! I attended Keynote, Create & Manage Course Modules, Course Navigation & Home Page, Google Assignments & External Tools (LTI), and Canvas Studio. - Educator from Landstown Middle

[Camp Canvas] helped to reinforce the lessons I learned about Canvas [LMS] in the Spring’s Grow with Canvas Modules. I learned more about synching Canvas and Synergy as well as Mastery Connect which I didn't know anything about prior to Camp Canvas. Great Camp Counselor presentations today! Thank you for your time and enthusiasm! - Educator from First Colonial High School

All in all, Camp Canvas was an innovative professional learning experience that brought educators together and set them up for success ahead of a new year with Canvas LMS.

Happy Trails!
The Instructure Team

Discover More Topics:

Stay in the know

Don't miss a thing – subscribe to our monthly recap and receive the latest insights directly to your inbox.