Achieving Equity with Canvas


Todd Theobald & Shara Johnson

Video Transcript
>> Welcome and we are so glad that you joined us for our session today. This session is called Assuring Access and Equity through the Fundamental Five. My name is Shara Johnson and I come to you from Nebraska and I'm a part of the Center for Leadership and Learning here at Instructure. >> My name is Todd Theobald. I come to you from Salt Lake City where I am an administrator in a large school district and also a consultant with the Center for Leadership and Learning. So, today we're really going to roll out-- we talk about assuring access and equity and a lot of times especially with the pandemic and trying to make those accommodations, people have this idea that just getting kids a computer really met their need, and at the Center for Leadership and Learning we really boil it down to these fundamental five; five questions to make sure that we are making learning personal for every single student.

We're going to take you through these five questions. The first is, what am I supposed to do? Next, when is it due? How did I do? Can you help me? And what more can I do? And really help you understand how valuable and powerful these questions can be when planning for giving the students the access they need to really round out and make this online experience whether it's blended or only remotely, how to make it a really powerful experience for students where great learning can happen. >> Yeah, I think anybody who had kids this spring, realized how important it would be or could be if a teacher took into account these five things of their planning all of their online activities, or even in-person or blended activities. I always talk about I had the twins, and it was very stressful when they couldn't figure out what they were supposed to be doing, so trying to curb that anxiety with making learning personal and addressing side questions I think is really, really key. Awesome, okay let's get started.

So, the first question is what am I supposed to do? So, we're going to talk about how in Canvas can we actually address these questions individually? So, the very first question; when I think about this, one of my favorite new tools is the homepage. And Todd we've talked about this in some of our sessions together, but I have like this homepage like has been given new birth with the pandemic. I mean, before it was like "Let's make it pretty, let's have buttons, and let's do all this stuff", and now it's like "Nope we need this to be functional. " And so, a lot of times when I've been working with districts this spring and now into the fall, it's not just like how can we work with one teacher at a time, but it's become how can our whole district do something very similar so that we are being super consistent and so that parents and students know what they're supposed to be doing and when. [ Multiple Speakers ] >> Okay.

One thing that I have found as an administrator in the school is that you start realizing when parents have multiple kids even within one school or in multiple schools, they get frustrated, because they want to help their kids. They're trying to figure out, "Okay, I don't even know where I'm supposed to find the information" and that's where the power you talked about, either school-wide or district-wide, that's where the power of this really comes in, is where students know what to expect and parents can actually help and support. >> Yeah. And so, we-- I have one example that we provided in one of our sessions, the Center for Leadership and Learning, and essentially I talk about how this homepage, you know, before was just pretty, but now we're talking functional. We are like really rounding out what it is we want students to be able to learn, what it is we're doing in your day-to-day realities, and what the assignments actually are and when, and everything can be hyperlinked pretty, pretty simply.

I know that we have a lot of districts here in Nebraska that are opting in for students to be remote or in-person, and so teachers are having to kind of manage both of these things, but this homepage, this works regardless of the situation, and so, we have parents and kids that are really appreciating how fluent and how functional this really has become. So, I would encourage, you know, if you're talking about how can you make things more consistent? How to answer this question? Come up with some sort of district expectations. Not even necessarily like an actual template, but maybe just come up with some district things you want to have on that page, like what are the few things you want every single teacher to have present? So, that would help answer that first question, "What am I supposed to do?" >> I love that and one of the things that I think we saw also in the schools is that as teachers were kind of forced into this world of blended learning or remote learning, they experienced in a whole new way and they started realizing this is great for every single day even when they're at school and they start to realize they get home, mom asks "Okay, so what do you have to do today?" And they're like, "Uh, I don't remember. " And so, it really is, it's a great way for a parent to login really fast and see, you know, for some of those students who need additional parent support. My nephew who graduated from high school barely with the incredible support of his mother, who by the way, scored a 35 on his ACTs, so it wasn't a student not capable, like some other issues obviously, but this is-- that's what this is all about these five questions for all types of learners.

So, that was the first one, "What am I supposed to do?" Let's pull-up that next question. >> Okay, well we have one more thing about what am I supposed to do? We'll highlight this quickly, because this is like the backbone of Canvas, that if you're talking about what you're supposed to do the other thing that we always encourage people to do is build-in modules always. And if you're building in modules and you're making that available for students, consider using some of these things. We talk about text headers, indentation, one of the things that I really have been hitting home a lot lately is thoughtful meaning conventions. So, what I mean by that is be consistent with your naming convention and have it be descriptive.

So, if you're talking about, you know, like Unit 1; Lesson 1, maybe your naming convention is 1-1 Introduction, and 1-1 Assignment with some other description, but so kids know where they are in the learning. So, be very consistent, but encourage your, you know, use those text headers, use that indentation, bring in some of those other parts about modules that make them so wonderful. Okay, moving on to the second question. >> Okay, so I have to say that builds perfectly into that that not only or is it important for students to know you know what to expect, but also teachers a year later are trying to remember what the named it, as that becomes natural as a consistent naming convention, it's so easier to find your stuff. >> Oh, good.

>> So, it will kind of help with the teachers too. Okay, the next question is? >> When is it due? Now, this would seem like it would be super simple, like dah when is it due? But we have to use due dates. You would be amazed at how many teachers say, "Well, I don't want to put so much pressure on them so I'm not putting a due date on it. " Like, by doing that you are actually creating anxiety for students, because they don't know when it's due and so they are like taking a shot in the dark. But we know that by putting due dates on things it is allowing it to be on the calendar.

It is putting it in their to-do list, and so it's creating some of those things for them so that they have the ability to check-in and see where they're at and kind of measure against other things they have going on. So, something so simple as a due date is huge for kids. >> Highlight that again. Talk about how that connects to the calendar, because I think not everyone, I know there's some very experienced users, but not everyone realizes the value of that. >> Yeah, so when you're building an assignment in Canvas you have the ability at the very end to give it a due date.

What people don't realize is that when you do one action like that it actually puts it in multiple places. So, by giving it a due date it-- you'll see this picture behind, it shows on the calendar for students and as they complete things it will cross it off for them. In addition, it puts it on their to-do list on their Dashboard and if they choose to have the list you open on their Dashboard, it will put it there as well. So, it puts it in multiple places in that spot. As an observer as well, I'm a parent of my three children, I see those items on the calendar as well, so that helps me to keep my kids in check.

So, having due dates is huge. >> And that's so funny, it's often one of those things that people think, this is that one question that they don't realize can create so much anxiety and it's so super important. >> Huge. Okay, the next question is how did I do? Now, this is kind of your wheelhouse. So, here we go.

>> This is, and it's one of those things that I find to be so super important. In fact, kids, any student is wanting to know if they did something what happens with this? What-- how did I do? Where is that you see it on the screen? Feedback, feedback, feedback. And it's really important to provide some sort of feedback to students when we're really explicit about that feedback even better. But I love the fact that we can use Speed Grader to leave written comments. One thing that people don't always realize is there's a tool built-in to those-- that feedback to leave audio and video comments and the other way around.

Students can, you know, I'm looking at the elementary world where students can actually do a verbal summary and put that, send that right to their teacher. So, use all of those tools to be able to provide really good feedback and continue that conversation and also that relationship. If I'm just submitting an assignment and who knows what happens, it does kind of feel like I gets lost in this black hole of you know school. But when the teacher responds back and gives some specific feedback it can really, not only amp up learning, but also it helps create that safety for that student. One other thing we put on there is attach a rubric for easy grading.

I was actually just talking to a principal just this week and she said, "I'm remember once in high school my daughter, this assignment was so stupid she had to write this stupid paper. I didn't care", and this horrible to admit. I won't tell you who it is. But she said, "I wrote the paper for my daughter, not all the way, but I practically did. " And she goes, "And I didn't get a good grade, because it came back after the fact was the rubric.

" And so think about that. That you know students want to know not only after the fact how did they do, but rubric allow them to know as they're doing it how they might do, such an important piece in that feedback even before or as they are starting their assignment. >> And I was just telling you, I was in a workshop today and John Hattie actually he did a cameo appearance talking about his book which, by the way that's not a plug, but he talks about how feedback has such a huge impact on learning. And I loved it. I was taking notes and he just, he I know he said it before, but he said it today in-person so I got all fan-girly, but he did just say just enough, just for me, and just in time.

And using Speed Grader and using the feedback that we have inside of Canvas allows us to do that for every single student. It is not a one size fits all. It is this is for Jenny, this is for Susie, and this is for Johnny and it can be very, very specific and it can be just for them which is something that I really, really love. >> And those tools really helps so that you're not spending the time grading, but you're spending that time providing that feedback. That's awesome.

>> Yes. Okay, next one, can you help me? >> And such a super important one. I love that you put this up on the screen that on your homepage which we talked about that very first one, this is another reason to have a really well-built homepage including the instructor's contact information, also office hours. It's important for them to know how do I contact you to get help? Now, one thing that we found as many schools are shifted into this online learning for the first time, our teachers felt like they needed to be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. And so this really helps not only students, but helps the teachers define, "Here is how you get help from me.

" That you can find me at this time, here's my office hours, this is my preferred method of communication so that they know I check my email between these times or whatever, it's just a really good way to say explicitly how-- what is the best way to get help from me. And then in addition to that, using the Canvas inbox, I feel like the more that we put everything through Canvas, allows students and teachers to find everything in one place, so they're not bouncing back and forth from different things. So, we say on here encourage your kids to also use that Canvas inbox and not just email you or different apps or MindApp or texting and things that when all communication is in one place it helps the teacher make sure they're keeping track and addressing all of those needs and getting back to students in a timely way. And the last one. >> Yes, thank you for going-- hold on, don't forget because I'm on the mom role too, but don't forget it, the observers that are in Canvas as well, this inbox works for them too.

And so, what we're finding is our schools with a lot of observer accounts, we don't have to have those teachers have every single parent's email address. They can access them through the Canvas Inbox. So, it's another portal for not only students to get ahold of teachers, but also for observers to kind of have that communication loop as well. >> Such a good point, and I love Shara that you have such a mom perspective on this, and aside from being like the queen of Canvas in Nebraska, but really knowing that mom perspective is huge. So, one other way when it comes to can you help me, and this is-- this is one of my favorite tools that, you know, using the appointment groups it is so easy to setup an appointment, say each one 15 minutes you can also have one-one-one appointments.

You can allow groups of 3 or to be able to find right there on their calendar, setup an appointment time, there's a lot of different settings that you can put in there, but this allows students to see when can I literally just meet one-one-one with you, or in these small groups and have that face-to-face, because I know even with me as an adult, sometimes I don't want to write everything out with my question. I just want to ask you. So, such a huge part and it can be really simple. You can have an hour a week or, you know, half-hour in the morning or something to make yourself available to parents or observers really. >> I had a senior, well she was a senior teacher; she was doing senior English.

It was a dual-credit course, this marks when kind of everything went down, and she was really struggling because the kids were just getting done with their final paper and it was like high-stakes, it wasn't just like a senior paper that's for a high school graduate class it was for college credit. She was stressed about it and she no longer had the students with her but on one-on-one time to be able to edit their drafts and talk about next steps, and so when I was talking to her about this spring she said to me, "Oh, my gosh. "If I would have just known that I could have done", she didn't know. She didn't know that there was such a thing and I said, now she knows and so I was just thinking about her as we were talking about this, because had she known about that I would have been easy for her to be able to line up that time with her kids, so. >> And can I talk more like easy, it's so easy to not-- you don't have to go and set each appointment time.

Like if you're blocking out a whole afternoon for 15 minute appointments, you can do that just in one click, go to how many appointments slots or what time and it sets it all up, so it's super easy and really effective. >> And you can even say the help, I mean, I have helpless hand raisers in my class too. They can only sign up for >> I got that too. >> Okay. Next question, what more can I do? So, this is actually our last question and sometimes this it can be deceiving and people think of it different ways, but one of the things we think about is enrichment, how can I provide enrichment? And that's kind of by default of Canvas, it's pretty easy to do that whether it's in a module or using MasteryPaths or something to provide enrichment paths.

One of the ways I like to think about this question is, how can we allow students to show what they know? We, you know, a lot of times we think about assessment and we think formal assessment and we think, okay we're going to do some sort of summative assessment, we think about formal writing paper assessment and sometimes I just want to say, "Oh, but maybe that's not that kid's strength. " I'm a math teacher, so when you tell me to write papers I get hives. But if you were to say, "Hey, how about you make a video?" and I'll go, "I can do that all day long" and I can edit it and I can put some graphics in it and. >> And we do do that all day long. >> I've been doing it all day long.

But if I have to write a paper, I do get stressed. It's not-- it's not my passion and it's not my strength, but I know a lot about certain topics and I can express that in another way. So, Canvas allows us to do that and in Assignments inside of Canvas, we don't have to just say, "Hey, you can only do it one way. " We can say, "Yeah, you can create a blog, you can do a report, you can do a brochure if you want" and this is one of the things I really love this spring when I was teaching, because my students did a lot of-- we were doing lesson planning at the time, but I also did a lot of self-care activities just to make sure they're okay, and I don't give them options like "Okay, you're going to do a video blog of what you", you know, we had a self-care checklist, a little choice board thing, and I said "You can do a blog or you can do a journal. You pick, but you're doing one of them.

" And so, giving kids choice and giving them an option also gives them some control, and so it's a really great option. So, this is kind of what I think of when I think of what more can I do is can I show them a different way other than just enrichment, how can we give students choice? So, anything to add there? >> Well, the first thing when we make those assignments really meaningful, I look at like in elementary and not just elementary, middle school, high school that so often part of the standard is that students have to explain their thinking and demonstrate it in way that you may miss out for kids that just don't write. They don't want to write. They're thinking, or they don't even know how to process it, but being able to show it in a different way you will get a better understanding of their learning, so I don't want people to think that this just means, oh some project at the end of the unit. This is really about authenticities of showing what students know, but allowing them to find a way that works best for them.

>> And there are so many options inside of Canvas, but there's also so many add-ons that allow us to do that that we can bring in from outside. I think of my-- a lot of my teachers are using Kami right now and one of my music teachers, it's a K-a-m-i. It's a PDF annotator, but it' s an integration of Canvas and one my music teachers is having them actually they have a voice commenting feature on the question, so it's like a staff of music, now I'm not a music person, it's a staff of music with beats and chord notes and whole notes or whatever and they have to clap it out, but it shows the video of the kid and it's a worksheet, just a regular worksheet, but now its interactive. Every single one has this kid clapping and you can see the kid and it's, it's like it makes it so much better. So, there's not [multiple speakers] that.

>> With reading, I mean being able to just do the same thing, have one PDF with a text that allows students to read and you can listen for fluency even when they're you know far away, so so many options which I love. >> Yeah. So, when we talk about trying to curb that anxiety for students, these are the questions that we really want to have answered, you know, just reiterating really quick, number 1) What am I supposed to be doing? And if you look at your course as an instructor through a student's perspective, you should be able to answer that question. Number 2) When is it due? Like we said, fairly simple. Use due dates, right? How do I get help? That's something that's pretty easily curved if you talk about creating some of those standards, we talked about the homepage, we talked about using the inbox.

The fourth question was, feedback or how do I know how I did, right? And so, using some of those tools in Speed Reader, and then lastly, what more can I do? And how can we provide some authentic learning experiences and enrichment for students in this media. So, those are the five questions. Anything you have to do before or talk about before we give our tip? >> No I think that's awesome. So, just to wrap up like when we talked about access and equity, I just I cannot stress this enough, that what we're really talking about is not putting a computer in front of a kid, but this-- these five questions answer about how do students access really good learning no matter where they are? >> Uh-hum. Equitable learning experiences for sure.

Equity, so for often we talk about Wi-Fi, a Wi-Fi and a device. Well, that is true, but we also think about equitable learning experiences regardless of the situation. So, here is our tip. This is our administrator tip, because we're kind of like administrators strands, and this is the tip I've been giving a lot of my administrators in my districts. And so, we're walk-- I was telling Todd earlier, I love I when things are like real really theoretical, but I love it when there's like this takeaway of like really practical stuff.

So, this is our freebie tip for the day; if you're an administrator or you're someone in the building district-wide or whatever that you have to kind of see what everybody's doing in their classrooms, this is one of the things I had told a lot of my administrators. I said, "Do you use that homepage that we talked about earlier, if you have like a district-wide homepage or you have something that you're doing similarly?" And a lot of my school districts are saying, "Okay, we can use that as your lesson plan. " Like, don't worry about turning in multiple lesson plans if you're doing that you're already addressing the standard, you're addressing the objectives, you've broken it down, you've got your essential question listed, you've got your kind of your outline, your assignments listed, I'm not going to make you double up the work. Let's just do that and let's make that your lesson plan. And so when I told my administrators is, because a lot of them have a course where they have all of their faculty enrolled just like you do Todd, and I said "Make it an assignment in your course.

Have them actually create that assignment, have it be a website URL", because every homepage has it so own URL, and then just have your teachers submit that URL, and then you as the administrator, when you want to go look and see what's going on in Mr. Theobald's class, all you have to do is go into Speed Grader, you click-on his name and because of it's a URL, it's going to be live all the time. So, I can look to see what Todd is doing today and from that same assignment that we did in August, I can look in February and see what he's doing in that week in February. So, it's a really quick trick for administrators to be able to access teacher's courses really quickly all in one spot. >> And that's the thing, to have your whole entire faculty all in one spot and know exactly where to go and they're submitting it.

You don't even have to enter it all in, so it's a genius way to just be able to kind get of a drop-in to what they're doing and see how teachers are creating their homepage. >> Yep, kind of handy. I also had some administrators create a spreadsheet with the teacher on either on the bottom, but then they're like I have to go find that in Google Drive. So, just a nice little tip, so that is kind of the wrap-up of our session. We're so grateful that you joined us and we hope that you have a great experience at this CanvasCon online event, and thank you. My name is Shara Johnson like I said from the Center of Leadership and Learning, and? >> And I'm Todd Theobald, thanks for joining us today.