WyoCourses 2.0 June Newsletter

Update from the Wyoming Department of Education  |  view online |  website

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Adoption Consultant Update

June Canvas Adoption Travel Map

May was a month of transition - a transition from supporting teachers in building Canvas content toward supporting districts as they start looking toward their Smart Start plans for the 2020-21 school year. Our work to directly support teachers in most instances, was requested through school district officials. One of the repeating events on my calendar was a weekly check-in with various PLC teams at Jackson Hole Middle School as they transition to fully standards-based grade reporting. We discussed the specifics of using Canvas Outcomes and the Learning Mastery Gradebook to help them prepare content for a fall launch. 

I also was contacted by numerous district technology directors and leaders about a variety of Canvas features. However, the bulk of my district-level work was to help districts get ready for fall by discussing how Canvas can help them with district Smart Start plans (you can read more about some general guidelines in the Canvas Best Practices section below). Conversations varied from demos of features like Canvas Blueprints, to implementation of the WDE sponsored templates available to all Canvas districts. Most discussions focused on creating training implementation plans to help get their new users up and ready for a fall start. 

Amongst all of the work in getting our current Canvas districts up and running more effectively in the fall, is the planning and training of our newest Canvas districts. Fremont County School District #14 (read more about them in the District Spotlight below) recently joined the Canvas family, and will be starting the fall with their courses in Canvas. We will introduce other districts who will be joining the Canvas movement soon in the coming months.

Even with all of the changes to the world, the Canvas platform continues to evolve. I will be communicating platform changes as best I can to all of the district Canvas leaders and technology directors over the summer to best prepare everyone for a smooth fall launch. As always, if you have any Canvas needs, I am but an email away.

David Signature

Canvas Best Practices 

Using Canvas Across Any Delivery Modality

There have been a number of questions from districts recently about best practices surrounding building Canvas content in light of the Smart Start plans. Simply put, a well designed Canvas course spans any modality: brick and mortar, hybrid, flipped, or fully online. As a starting point, here is Canvas’ Beginning- and End-of-Course Checklist document. This document outlines the essential and best practices as districts end this school year and start planning for the fall.

Of the essentials that are listed in the document, the most important pieces are the ones related to course design: simple course navigation, choose a home page, publish course and content, and review content in Student View. Simplifying course navigation is an important part of creating an inviting environment for students. As creators choose a homepage option, creating a Page or simply using the Modules as a homepage are the two recommended options. Publishing and reviewing your content are the final steps to get your course ready.

When thinking of best practices for Canvas courses, districts can certainly use the checklist to guide how you add content. However, it is important to understand the concept of using a learning management system to most effectively utilize Canvas and to be prepared for a sudden necessary switch in delivery modality. Ultimately, Canvas is designed to help organize overall course content in a digital manner. 

Using Canvas modules to organize yearly curriculum maps into units, and eventually lesson plans is a best practice regardless of delivery modality. If teaching in person, this allows for easy access of Canvas content for students who had to miss school for any reason: illness, family, extra curricular activities, even snow days. If teachers are handing out worksheets in a brick and mortar class, they can make a PDF available for students when creating the assignment in Canvas. If teachers are delivering quizzes, Canvas can become the delivery method, as it will autograde and allow for immediate feedback to students. Using these strategies inside of Canvas will allow educators to quickly pivot, in case school buildings close, and learning moves online.

For more information about how Canvas can help your school or district with your Smart Start plans and initiatives, reach out to your Wyoming Canvas Adoption Consultant David to schedule a time to discuss your needs. You can also directly schedule an appointment on his calendar by using this Calendly link.

District Spotlight - Fremont #14

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Change Management Planning

First, welcome Fremont County School District #14 to the Wyoming Canvas family. They made the decision to join Canvas this spring, with a timeline where teachers will start using Canvas with their students starting with the 2020-21 school year. As part of the process, David has had a number of change management planning conversations with the district to help create a training and communication plan with the highest probability of success. Change management helps guide the Canvas adoption process by addressing the human side of change, understanding that a change to education affects people on many levels, from administrators and leaders, to the teachers they serve, with the ultimate impact being felt by the students themselves.

The discussions with Fremont County School District #14 centered around the needs for the overall education of their students, knowing that Canvas is a tool that can help with a number of their strategic goals. They have identified structural strengths and weaknesses while discussing both opportunities and threats to the success of Canvas. All of these discussions are meant to honestly set expectations for the overall implementation of Canvas, knowing that all stakeholders (administrators, teachers, students, and ultimately parents) deal with changes differently, often on a very personal level.

In the end, we have the structure of a communication plan which will be completed by the district, with David’s help in crafting a list of training opportunities for all teachers in the district. These plans are coming together quickly, and will allow for virtual training opportunities to occur during the summer while curating a list of potential Canvas resources for those more interested in self-directed learning.

Statewide Adoption Consulting Meeting 

These meetings are to discuss the successes, concerns, and needs of Canvas districts around Wyoming and to demonstrate new Canvas features. Consulting meetings will start at 10 a.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The June meeting should already be on calendars. Email David to be added to the email invite list.

Next Meeting: 10 a.m. on June 23, 2020

Contact Information

David Stokowski, Canvas, Adoption Consultant

Robin Grandpre, WDE, Project & Performance Manager

Phone: 307-215-3060
Calendar: Calendly 

Phone: 307-777-5315