WyoCourses 2.0 July Newsletter

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

WyoCourses Logo

Adoption Consultant Update

Adoption Consultant Map for July

June was a month of transition for many of the school districts around Wyoming. Much of my focus this month was on creating documentation, district-specific adoption plans, and scheduling virtual training for July and August. As of now, we have four new Canvas districts that will be coming on board for the fall, with more districts considering joining.

When a new district comes on board with Canvas, I like to hear the story, as the past strongly influences the future. Once I understand the district’s history and priorities, I start the process of working through scheduled sessions on change management. Change is a personal process, and we work through guided discussions to understand a district’s strengths while discussing obstacles they need to overcome. These sessions help us create an initial communication plan to be implemented by the district. After this, I follow up with a customized training plan, which includes self-paced resources, resources from the Canvas Training Team, the Canvas Community, and eventually in-person or virtual sessions specifically targeted to the district’s needs. All of this will happen over the summer, as most of the new districts have some level of Canvas usage expected starting in the fall. 

Once the school year begins, I will continue to support districts with further consulting. School-year consulting looks quite a bit different from summer consulting. During the school year, I can develop workshops for professional development days, or simply have a presence in a building where teachers can drop by and ask specific questions about Canvas usage and best practices. Also, my calendar is always open for virtual visits from anyone needing a quick chat about anything Canvas. 

I am excited about all the changes happening in education, but still daunted by the weight of the underlying reasons. I’ll leave you with the quote I had in my email signature during our COVID spring from Red Green (of the Red Green Show on CTV in Canada): 

“I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”

David Signature

Canvas Best Practices 

The summer is a great time to invest in Canvas. The following sections are great resources:

Canvas Guides

Search Canvas Guides Image

Canvas provides “how-to” guides which cover getting started and specific roles such as instructor, student, administrator, and observers. There are additional technical resources and reference documentation available. These guides always have the most current information available, and are refreshed with each software update. If you are comfortable solving your own problems, these guides are there for you, and can be accessed from your Help Menu in Canvas.

Training Service Portal

Canvas Training Services banner image

The Canvas Training Portal is another great way to get more information about Canvas, From your Help Menu, select the Training Services Portal. 

Training Services Portal from Help Menu Screenshot
Training Service Portal Menu Options

Within the Training Services Portal is a Learning Pathway dedicated to get K12 teachers started. There are also a number of self-paced courses which contain video tutorials showing the main functionality of Canvas. Finally, there are over 30 unique, one-hour Live Training webinars led by the fantastic Canvas Training Team. For every seven of these one-hour live sessions you attend, you can earn a half (.5) Professional Teaching Standards Board credit. 

Canvas Course

Wyoming Canvas Adoption Consultant, David, created an open-access Canvas course for all things Canvas. David created this course during the COVID-19 transition. This course contains agendas, slide decks, and video recordings of the live webinars sessions he offered this past spring. 

Canvas for Elementary Facebook Page

Canvas for Elementary Facebook Page Banner

There are a number of outstanding resources available that are not directly associated with Canvas. As an example, there is a closed Facebook Group called Canvas for Elementary that features great elementary use cases of Canvas from users around the country and beyond. This has proven to be an excellent place to collaborate with and see how Canvas is being utilized by other elementary teachers.

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 July meeting was canceled. The August meeting should already be on calendars. Email David to be added to the email invite list.

Next Meeting: 10 a.m. on August 25, 2020

District Spotlight  

Megan Garnhart, Carbon County School District #1

Megan Garnhart was a fourth-grade teacher at Rawlins Elementary in Carbon County School District #1 during the 2019-2020 school year. Last October, Garnhart was an avid Google Classroom user, and started to transition to Canvas with the help of David. After her initial meeting with David, Garnhart kept using Google Classroom. However, her district decided that all teachers would be required to use Canvas after spring break, due to the COVID-19 closures of schools around Wyoming.

Garnhart described her emotions as angry and frustrated about having to move to Canvas. But in true teacher fashion, she decided to just put her frustrations aside and just get to work. The first day back from spring break was telling. Garnhart had created a video posted in Google Classroom about how to access Canvas, instructing the students to post in a Canvas discussion board as proof of their successful entry into the course. Her fourth-grade students had no problem, they easily took to the new platform in stride.

Garnhart said she recommends the following for new elementary teachers starting to use Canvas:

  • Use Announcements - The announcement tool became her go to place for giving students information about the day’s activities. “If you get lost, go back to announcements.” Garnhart was able to hyperlink her Canvas content in her announcements, making this tool her de facto lesson plan.
  • Limit Student Navigation - Under Settings and the Navigation tab, make sure you remove unnecessary course links. The fewer links present, the less likely your students will get lost.
  • Use Student View - Canvas gives you the ability to preview how your content looks to a student. Take advantage of this, so you know how your students will experience assignments, discussions, quizzes, and more. 
  • Use One Course - Often Canvas will create one course for each subject area. If you use only ONE of these courses you can limit student confusion.

One thing Garnhart described as a “game changer” was the fact that Canvas creates her courses, and adds her students automatically! A former colleague whose district was recently looking to Canvas asked her if she’d be using Canvas again this fall. Garnhart replied that she had kissed Google Classroom goodbye… She's a Canvas teacher now. Finally, Garnhart has been gracious to supply her email and is willing to answer any questions about her experience rapidly moving from Google Classroom to Canvas. 

Call for Submissions

Innovative Canvas Users Call for Submissions: Use this form to nominate an innovative Canvas user, be it a teacher or administrator, or an initiative happening at a local school, to be highlighted in future newsletters. We look forward to sharing all of the amazing work our Wyoming educators are doing in Canvas.

Contact Information

David Stokowski, Canvas, Adoption Consultant

Robin Grandpre, WDE, Project & Performance Manager

Phone: 307-215-3060
Calendar: Calendly 

Phone: 307-777-5315