Using Canvas in Your Classroom as a 21st Century Skill | InstructureCon 2013
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Using Canvas in Your Classroom as a 21st Century Skill | InstructureCon 2013

I want to say thanks for allowing me to come here. I really appreciate the
opportunity to talk to you about Canvas. This is something that’s really
transformed our school. We’re in Iowa. We’re a very rural school. We have about 160 kids
in our high school. About 600 kids in our entire
school district, K-12, so we’re pretty small. This has really helped us, not
only educationally in our classrooms, but sharing some of
the resources that we have to share due to our size, which
I’ll kind of get into here in a little bit. Just to kind of share with you
our Canvas story, kind of why we chose Canvas, a year ago I
with a group of teachers and administrators that went to the
PLC Conference, Solution Tree, down in Saint Louis. We came back, talked basically
the whole ride home from Saint Louis, why do we want to change
our classrooms, and how do we do it? And we had been in contact
with Canvas probably for about, I would say, three
months prior to that conference. We got back and I kind of took
the lead on playing with the Canvas software, seeing how we
could use it, changing some things for us, that customized
things for us in Iowa. So that’s kind of where
we started. We played with the
sandbox model. I started it this past fall,
so in the fall of 2012. And we started to really
grow into it. There were about three of us
that started using it. By, I would say, the middle of
September, I went to our superintendent. I said I really think we
need to purchase this. So that’s what we did. I went to school board, we
talked about it, and we purchased Canvas which, I think
our teachers would say, has really improved
instruction. So we actually did this in
the middle of the year. The biggest thing we found after
the PLC Conference and from all of the things that we
had talked about as a staff was, this really comes
down to learning. And we know today, 2013,
that our learners are very, very different. I graduated about 13,
14 years ago. I can tell you the way I teach
is very different than the way my high school teachers
taught. And I would say if you even go
back further than that, there are things that are a lot
different, not only with technology, but instruction and
all of the things that we do in a classroom today. Because our kids have cell
phones, they have computers, they have video games. So we have to change the
way that we teach. So the first thing
we said was, how do we improve learning? And, what should our
schools look like? One of the things our
superintendent and all of our administrators have kind of come
to realize, we have to tear down the walls
of our schools. I teach in a district,
our buildings are 80 to 90 years old. They’re very old. They’re not nice, by any means,
but the thing is, I would say the stuff that’s going
on inside those rooms is better than probably a lot of
schools around us to have much nicer schools. And the reason is because we
have focused more on how can we change what those
classes look like? How have we changed
our instruction? So we have focused less
on, what does the building look like? We’re focusing on, how can
we actually reach kids? And I’m going to talk a little
bit about some of the buzz words that we’ve used in
education and we kind of taken, not only me, but other
people on our staff have taken to heart and really ran with. In the state of Iowa, and I
think this is kind of across the country now, but we
have what are called 21st century skills. This kind of goes with the whole
core curriculum part of Iowa that we have really tried
to emphasize here probably in the last five to six years. I kind of paraphrase these. Obviously, collaboration is a
big part of education today. Our students want to
work with others. Regardless of what they might
tell you, they want to work with other students. And that might not be sitting
face-to-face with someone. It may be using technology. The second thing on there is
working flexibly in ambiguity. OK, we talked a lot
about LTIs here. We’ve talk about APIs. We don’t know what tomorrow
is going to be. We don’t know what tomorrow in
education is going to be. So we have to know that there
are going to be times where we don’t know the answer
to the problem. And for some of our teachers,
that has been an issue. Well, we have to know
the answer. Do you really? And that’s the question we
have asked our staff. The third thing, leadership
skills and integrity. I think that has been
kind of a standard that’s been around forever. It really just hasn’t
spoken a lot. Initiative and self direction. Here’s something that we
really struggled with. How do we get kids
to do things? How do we get kids to take the
initiative to start something? And I think Canvas has that
ability to get that piece out there for kids to see, and then
take it the next step further, which I’ll give you
some examples that are going to, I think, help you as you
kind of get started with your Canvas journey. If you’re already into Canvas,
hopefully this can help you even further what
you’re doing. Productivity and accountability
basically comes down to doing your work,
doing it on time. Creativity, digital tools, and
critical thinking skills, all very important things, as you
can see from everything you’ve been to at this conference
thus far. Now, some of buzzwords, and I’m
going to kind of elaborate on these because I think they’re
really important, and I think they are really
changing the face of education, and changing the way
that we, as educators, are doing business. Flipped classrooms. How many people have heard of
flipped classrooms or are doing them? Great. Project-based learning. How many people have
heard that word? All right. And then differentiated
learning, I’m assuming all of us have probably heard that
buzzword, because it’s a big part of dealing with some of
our students, and using the tools that we have to help
them learn even more. Flipped classrooms really became
a buzz word in our school district about a
year and a half ago. We had a couple of teachers, and
I’m really proud of this, these are not people that are
right out of college. These are 20-, 30-year teaching
veterans that have said, we need to change, and
to do that, we’re going to have to look at some
other things. And we’ve had a couple people
that have bought into the flipped classroom, and
I’ll share kind of what they’ve done. I’ve used it in a couple of
different situations myself, so I can say that I have
done that as well. Project-based learning. We’ve talked about that. We’ve talked about that. In the state of Iowa, I’m a
career and technical teacher. We have to do project-based
learning. We don’t have an option. We have to demonstrate it. The state of Iowa comes
in and they say, you better be doing it. They evaluate that. We have to show and demonstrate
every part of it. So for us, it’s easier. I think if I was a core teacher
this might be a little bit harder at times, but I think
there’s a lot of great examples out there as to how we
can do that in a math, or English, or social studies
classroom. And then differentiated
learning. I think Canvas has really
helped us with the differentiated part, because
of modules and some of the assignments can be adjusted. So I’ll talk more about all of
these in general, but I think these three words really
captivate the whole 21st century skills. Flipped classrooms. Again, it’s about
the learning. Canvas really helped us when we
went to the Canvas platform in November, because we had
a teacher, she’s a 20-year teaching veteran. She teaches the entry
level math classes in the high school. She really was looking for
something where she could do her flipped classroom, and she
could do it in one spot, because the obstacle we had
run into was, we could do flipped classrooms, but we
had to go to YouTube. Then you had to go to another
site to do some of the activities. Then you had to use some
of the textbook stuff. So we were piecing together
about three different parts. Well, when we got Canvas,
everything really went together very seamlessly. So we use the modules. We use the quizzes. We use the discussions forms. And our students, I won’t say
that we didn’t have to do some training, but it was
very minimal. Our students jumped in
and they did it. And in fact, I would tell you
a lot of our students have come back and said,
you know what? This really helped
us learn math. This really helped us
learn the subject that we were covering. The other thing with the flipped
classroom, and I think where Canvas really helped us,
was with the teachers. I always heard this analogy
when I was in college, and then I saw it in action
when I went out actually in the field. Who’s doing the work
in your room? I talked to this teacher that
went to the flipped classroom and she said, I just went home
every night, and I was exhausted, and I had a stack
of papers this big, and I didn’t know what to do. Well, now it takes some of the
responsibility off the teacher and puts it on the student. Here’s what you need to do. It’s given to you. It’s given to you in a
clear format, and now you have to do it. So the teacher becomes more of
a facilitator, they’re out in the audience helping
students learn. And maybe Johnny is not at the
same spot as Susie is. That’s OK, Because Johnny is in
an accelerated program, and Susie needs a little
more help. So that’s where we have to use
that technology such as Canvas to make that transition for both
of those students easier. The other thing, students had
to take responsibility for their learning. We felt that was really
important, and we spent a lot of time on that. And our administrators
supported our staff in doing that. And I think our students have
really bought into it. I’m not going to say that it’s
perfect, but for the most part it has been pretty successful. Again, the Canvas tools that
really, really set this off for the flipped classroom. Number one, discussion forums. OK, collaboration. That’s a big part of our
kids’ world today. Again, they may not like to do
it face-to-face, but they use Snapchat, they use text
messaging, they use online tools, Google Hangouts, Google
Chat, all right? Our students used those tools
prior to using Canvas. Well, Canvas gave them the
opportunity to actually collaborate together, or they
could collaborate with the teacher, which is another big
part of flipped classroom. The other thing is
with videos. OK, the teacher put
out a video. I did this. I teach an accounting class. My students said the video will
really helped them learn some difficult topics. The reason was, which they can
do when I’m in the class, they can have pause, and they can
go back in the video. Or they can just say, oh, Mr.
McQuillen said I need to do this, this, and this. They couldn’t do that before,
and it really changed how they were learning in class. The Modules part. In our math classes, they
absolutely love this. They had to do step one. Then they did step two. Then they did step three. Maybe they took a
quiz in there. Then they did some
other things. So it really made them
sequentially go through things, but again, they didn’t
necessarily have to do it at the same speed. And you all have students
that learn at different rates of speed. We know that. Outcomes. This is something we’re still
kind of working on. With the Outcomes part,
I think we’re making some big progress. We are trying to get all of our
classes aligned with Iowa core curriculum, which
is basically our standards for the state. And we could essentially point
to, lesson one aligns with standard 3-A, or whatever
it may be. That’s what we’re trying
to get to. Again, we’re not quite there
yet, but we are working on it. The other part of
the outcomes. If you’re doing an English
project or something like that, you can set up rubrics,
and the rubrics show what you are actually teaching. And then the Quizzes part. The Quizzes feature is much more
advanced than anything we had ever used. You know, we weren’t
limited to true false or multiple choice. We could kind of open this up
to some other things so as short answer, or even
essay questions. We really, really bought into
that, and that really helped to get some of these flipped
classrooms off the ground. Project-based learning. As we have all heard over and
over again, how we get kids engaged is by getting
them involved. And how we get them involved
today is not, probably, going to be the same as it was in
the 1990s or the 1980s. So technology has become
a big part of that. And yes, video, audio, even word
processing or things of that nature, but Canvas has a
big part in this, because the hands-on learning part can
be organized by Canvas. And this is useful stuff for
kids, because if you think about your job as a teacher,
or if you’re a tech person, you have to organize what
you’re going to do. You don’t do something backwards
and expect it to work right. So Canvas really helped organize
things, put it in a format that our students could
understand, and I’ll share an example here in a minute
of something that I did in my classroom. I teach a business class, and
again, in the state of Iowa, we have to show that we do
things based on a project in our classes, every class
that we teach. So one of the things that my
students have to do is they have to create a business,
write a business plan. They have to demonstrate
what’s the building going to look like? How am I going to
make this work? What’s a budget look like? So project-based learning in
Canvas really gives you a lot of features that you wouldn’t
have if you were just to hand out a sheet of paper and say
do these 5 things, or 10 things that it might be. The Pages feature gives you an
opportunity, if you’re having a project that’s going to last
the entire year or half a year, you can use that
as kind of your wiki for your classroom. So you can add to
it as you go. You don’t have to give
them all the information on day one. The Announcements part. How do I get my students to
know what’s going on? Sometimes you have to tell them,
and the Announcements part is, again, that
collaboration piece. You know, Friday we’re going
to have a project check or something like that. Modules. If you’re doing a project for
English, or a social studies project, and you know you’re
going to have about eight different parts to it,
you can put that into the Modules piece. You can make sure they do part
one before they do part two. Assignments. Again, you can use the
rubrics part of this and it is very powerful. Students know they can look
at the rubric online. They don’t have to
use the excuse, I lost my piece of paper. And then again, the Outcomes
part goes with your standards. Differentiated Learning. How can we meet the
needs of students? If there is a part of this
educational system that I think has been emphasized
probably more so than anything else, I think is differentiated
learning. Again, as I stated earlier,
we know our students are different. We know that we have students
that learn at different rates of speed, so we have to
differentiate things. We have to give them options,
which is what Canvas is really all about, options. What can you do with Canvas that
you couldn’t do if you simply just gave people
a piece of paper? So again, you have to ask
yourself, do all of our learners need to do
the same things? And most of the time, I think
you can probably say, no, they don’t have to do the
exact same thing. So when it gets into the
differentiate learning part, I think a lot of our staff found
that they had to get away from traditional thinking of,
everybody’s going to do the same thing at the same
time, fifth period. They had to move toward a belief
that we’re going to do things a little bit
differently for each group of students. And a prime example was in one
of our science classrooms. We had a teacher, again, another
veteran teacher, who changed his curriculum
so he could meet the needs of his students. It was project-based learning. It was some of the flipped
classroom pieces that he put together to give students the
opportunity to succeed. Again, I think the Modules part
is a huge piece in this. I think you have to have
opportunities for kids to do things, but maybe it’s not
going to look the same. The Collaboration parts
are digital tools, and we all have those. We all have digital
tools that we have available for students. And again, you’re piecing
together, I think, the flipped classroom and project-based
learning to make this work. I spoke to a friend of mine in
last couple of days, you know, where are we going
with technology? What’s it going to
do to education? And that’s the question we have
to all ask each other. How are we going to change? Because if we simply stay in the
traditional mode, which is the easiest mode, but if we
simply stay there, we are going to go left behind. And as we heard at the keynote
this morning, we are tending to run three to five years
behind technology. So what can we do to keep up? And I really believe that’s
where Canvas plays a big role with our educational system,
because we have all of these tools available to us. And we can integrate a lot of
the things that we use on a regular basis right into
the Canvas program. Differentiated learning,
again, goes back to our at-risk students. It goes to some of our special
education students. But I think it really goes into
our general education classroom, because we have to
allow our students that freedom to think big. What can we do, you know? And we’re in Iowa. Some of you are in
major cities. We don’t really have major
cities close to us, so we have to use some of these pieces so
our students understand this is what’s going on in
Salt Lake City. This is what’s going
on in Chicago. Because otherwise, they
don’t get It. We have corn fields, and
that’s about it. All right? So where we go from here? I think our challenge
is to look forward. What can we do as educators to
set the tone for the future, and that not only get with the
curve, but get ahead of the curve, and maybe set it? What can you do differently? Again, technology is changing
at an exponential rate. How can we get there? How could we get ahead of it and
use it to the benefit of our students? The third thing, I challenge you
to put your classroom on the cutting edge using Canvas,
using all the options that are available to you, because I
really believe it has the opportunity to really change
not only what your students are learning, but how you are
an effective educator. So again, I want to thank you. Are there any questions that
you might have for me? Yes. AUDIENCE: What’s the demographic
makeup of your high school students? ANDREW MCQUILLEN: Such as– AUDIENCE: As far as ethnic
background, maybe how much money they’re coming from. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. ANDREW MCQUILLEN: OK. What is the ethnic,
or what is the demographics of our high school? We are about as vanilla
as they come, OK? We have no diversity. I would say, if you want to talk
average income, somewhere in the range of probably 50,000,
somewhere in there. Kind of a prototypical
farming community. AUDIENCE: So you don’t have
any issues with students having access to internet or
computers at home or anything. ANDREW MCQUILLEN: We are a
one-to-one computer school. So every student in our high
school has a computer. Access? Very minimal. I would say less than
10% of our students don’t have the internet. and I would say most of them
find access if they need it. Yes? AUDIENCE: Talk about outcomes
and what have been the stumbling blocks
for alignment. Has it been Canvas or has it
been knowing what it is that you’re aligning within the
curriculum in places? ANDREW MCQUILLEN: What
have been the stumbling blocks with alignment? I would say it has probably
been, more so, how the state of Iowa has kind of put out the
core curriculum for us, because it’s kind of in limbo. We don’t know exactly what,
exactly, they want right now. But we’re getting closer. I think we’re within
six months of that being really finalized. Does that answer
your question? AUDIENCE: Kind of. Yeah. So you haven’t really used
outcomes yet to know how you’re going to– ANDREW MCQUILLEN: We are putting
in what we know is finalized, but we don’t know,
some of the pieces are not finalized, so we don’t want
to do the work twice. So that’s been the
biggest issue. Yeah? AUDIENCE: Do you watch
those flip flash rooms before yourself? ANDREW MCQUILLEN: Yes. AUDIENCE: I just kind of googled
it because I didn’t know what it was. My understanding is that
you watch content-based instruction videos at home and
do more project-based or inquiry-based learning
in the classroom. And I agree totally with that
concept as a math teacher. I’m a geometry teacher
specifically. But my question would be, first
of all. are the kids watching the videos at home
even if they have internet access and all that. Because I know paper and pencil
don’t always get done before they come back
to the classroom. So I would feel, probably, that
I would have to spend time on content again. And the difficulty level. Are they understanding
the concepts from watching the videos. So I just wonder what
has your experience been in that regard? ANDREW MCQUILLEN: What has our
experience been with flipped classrooms, and watching
the videos, and comprehending things? Truthfully, I think watching
the videos has not been an issue. I’m not going to say that it’s
100% because that would be a lie, but I think the vast
majority watch them. And number two, comprehension. I’m not going to kid you. The flipped classroom,
obviously, watching the video, you hope that they
get everything. But there’s going to be
questions and that’s kind of what you’re trying to move
toward a little bit, is getting them to ask
the questions. Why do you not understand this,
or what part don’t you understand, maybe? Anything else? Yeah. AUDIENCE: You said that you’ve
made videos for a class that you taught. ANDREW MCQUILLEN: Mm-hmm. AUDIENCE: What method did you
go about getting the videos into Canvas or linking
videos for insert? ANDREW MCQUILLEN: I
actually made– the question was, how did I
make my videos in Canvas? I made them directly
in Canvas. AUDIENCE: Can you like show that
to us so we can see what that looks like? ANDREW MCQUILLEN:
I wish I could. I could afterwards, if you
want to stick around. But yeah, that’s what I did. I’ve also done them in
YouTube as well. AUDIENCE: How long can you make
your videos and not use up your storage space that
you have in Canvas? ANDREW MCQUILLEN: We try
to keep our videos– and the rule of thumb is, with
the flipped classroom videos, how long would you want to watch
a video about math , or accounting, or whatever it is? We try to keep them under
three minutes, because otherwise, it’s like her
question, how many people are going to watch the
whole thing? But if you keep them short and
sweet, and to the point, I think that kind of
eliminates it. I have used YouTube, and you
can integrate that it right into Canvas as well. Thank you. If you have any other questions,
you feel free to email me or stop me afterwards.

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