Fostering an
Engaged Community
at Davis Schools

At Davis Schools, keeping everyone connected is essential. Over the past few years, their team has listened to their community, led innovative professional development, and used Canvas LMS as the digital hub for their schools. Read on to learn the secret to their success. 

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Key Insights

Canvas LMS is the digital hub that supports over 72,000 students and their families districtwide

Elementary and secondary students can fully utilize Canvas LMS.

Canvas LMS prepares students for postsecondary education as it is the preferred platform for higher education institutions nationwide.

Supported educators are educators that stay. Davis Schools has retained educators by listening to their needs and providing them with the resources to deliver the best pedagogy possible

Davis School District keeps everyone - teachers, students, and their families - connected with Canvas LMS. Explore their commitment to supporting teachers and staying ahead of the learning curve below.

More Than Just Another Tool

With over 72,000 students, Davis Schools is a large connected community. Teachers support students, families advocate for students, and the Digital Learning and Technology Integration Center bridges the gap between human needs and digital learning tools.

Switching from their previous vendor to Canvas LMS was initially “pretty easy,” as Ryan Hansen, Ph.D., Director of Digital Learning, described. However, the usage and role of Canvas LMS districtwide have evolved over the years, according to Rachelle Herbst, Edutech Specialist and former teacher at Davis.

“It didn’t make sense for us to continue to leave schools to figure Canvas LMS out on their own. There needed to be a recommendation from us to our schools that this is the LMS, and we’re going to support you on how to use it,” Hansen said.

With a vision set, their team focused on providing the resources needed to make Canvas LMS the digital hub to further student learning through engaging learning experiences. They renewed this commitment in the spring of 2020 when they and other districts worldwide shifted to remote learning overnight.

Building Strong Human Connections

Davis trained 1,800 teachers on how to use Canvas LMS in just four days. They accomplished this through the guidance of Belinda Kuck, K-12 Teaching & Learning Director, and Lisa Lomax, Canvas Administrator.

Their team shared the basics, and superstar Canvas teachers highlighted strategies for providing additional instructional support. Teacher-led professional development sessions - like those created at Davis - resonate more deeply with educators and result in more substantial growth.

Listening And Responding

To ensure educators built on what they learned, Lomax and Canvas Collaborators (power users designated by schools to help further Canvas adoption) led weekly refresher sessions over the summer.

“[Teachers asked] how do I create a page? What are some good elements for consistency on a home page?” Lomax said, “…A blank sheet is great if you’re creative, but it’s intimidating for teachers to come in and say, ‘how do I get everything I’ve been doing in my classroom onto a digital platform?’”

The district invested in course templates to offer educators a starting point. And as teachers wanted to replicate their familiar worksheets in Canvas LMS, Lomax and her team supported them in seeing the transition to a learning management system as an opportunity.

“How do we teach this concept differently? A more enriched way, a more interactive and engaged way. We worked with teachers on that, and then it was just like a wave. They just stayed right ahead of that wave,” Lomax said.

Establishing consistency from elementary to secondary in Canvas LMS courses also helped families feel comfortable keeping a pulse on how their students progress in classes in K-12. Cathy Larsen, Supervisor in the Digital Learning Department, also described the increased accessibility of course content for the community.

“[With Canvas LMS courses], we have taught teachers how to create a public-facing web page on our website so that when teachers, families, or anyone in public is searching for a class, there's a link to access their course content easily.”

Preparing Students For Future Success

The content found in Canvas LMS courses is rigorous and prepares students for standards mastery. Lomax partnered with Instructure to create and upload this content for their district.

Kuck explained,” Assignments are tied to a standard. If you go into an English course, it will have our lesson, week, and day. The lesson says what the standard is, the objective, and the success criteria. Every single activity is aligned to a standard.”

In addition to a high-quality curriculum, understanding how to use Canvas LMS prepares many students seeking a postsecondary education for success.

“We recognize that many of our institutions of higher learning use Canvas LMS, as well. So, it's helpful for us to help our students be fluent in Canvas so that skill translates as they move on,” Hansen said.

Davis Schools allows its educators to keep learning. To provide students with a high-quality education, teachers must experience innovative practices in their professional learning. Download Elevating Educators with Meaningful Professional Development for more strategies on engaging teachers.

A Solid Foundation

“I don't see our relationship with Canvas as tentative at all,” Hansen said. “...I thought about life without Canvas LMS, and it would be catastrophic for our school district. It's not just because of the tool…We've used Canvas LMS to build resources for Davis, our teachers, and our kids.”

Looking to the future, Davis plans to continue listening to their community, supporting their needs, and using Canvas LMS to collaborate.

“…With all the incredible work Lisa, Belinda, and their team have done, if I were still in the classroom, I would be using Canvas LMS to support student learning. It's been amazing to be a part of this process,” Herbst said.

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