Wyoming Canvas April Newsletter

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

Wyoming Canvas Masthead

Adoption Consultant Update

Adoption Consultant Map for March

There has been a lot of excitement around the upcoming changes to the view elementary students and teachers will have in Canvas over the coming months. This has been the focus of my planning and preparation during March. In fact, many of these changes are a direct response to issues educators have had with the usability of Canvas with our youngest learners. Rates of Canvas usage in elementary classrooms have lagged behind those in middle and high schools. This problem isn’t unique to Wyoming, but it is something I hope to help address, so that Wyoming can become an example of how to best use Canvas in the brick-and-mortar, hybrid, and virtual elementary classroom. I am working to communicate with each Canvas school district about how I can continue to support their Canvas initiatives at all grade levels, with a special view towards elementary.

Another major focus during March was continued planning and content creation for Canvas professional development around the state. The Clever Pandas course is coming to a close at the end of May. The course currently has 21 educators enrolled, with the opportunity to be among the first in Wyoming to be called Clever Pandas. I am also partnering with the University of Wyoming on an upcoming project to create professional development content. This content will be similar to the Clever Pandas course, but will focus on best practices in using Canvas in an online environment. There is a potential for further course development into the fall and beyond.

Overall, I am grateful to continue to serve the education community in Wyoming with Canvas support. While I am no longer in the classroom, it is a joy to know that the work we are doing with Canvas and the state of Wyoming, is positively impacting education across Wyoming. As always, feel free to contact me if there is anything I can do to support you in all that you do for Wyoming’s students. My phone and inbox are always open.

David Signature

Canvas Best Practices 

Reassign from SpeedGrader

One of the most common issues we heard from teachers who were using Canvas through campus closures was that students were submitting blank assignments. There were a number of reasons for this behavior, but the issues generally surrounded student’s gaming the system to show their parents that they had nothing on their Canvas To-Do list. Much to the dismay of students everywhere, Canvas developed a mechanism for teachers to reassign an item to students. This can be done to combat the “empty” submissions from students, while also allowing teachers to give feedback on student draft submissions so they can prepare for their final drafts.

Reassign Assignment Screenshot

In Canvas, this feature is already active and ready in the SpeedGrader, but is only available for Assignments, not Discussions or Quizzes. In order to activate the “Reassign Assignment” button, teachers must first add and submit a comment. Once completed, the reassign button will become active. The student must have at least one more submission possible on the assignment in order for the reassignment to be possible.

Wyoming Indian Schools logo

District Spotlight  

In the Spring of 2020, just after the COVID-19 pandemic started, Fremont County School District #14 signed on to become a Canvas district. Fremont #14 or Wyoming Indian Schools is a district fully serving the people of the Wind River Reservation. During the spring and into the summer, the district started meeting with the Wyoming Canvas Adoption Consultant to begin the planning process to roll out Canvas to the district’s teachers, students and parents, for their August 2020 launch. The most difficult part about this rollout of Canvas was that it needed to be done remotely, to a dispersed staff and student body. The district devised a plan that involved training for faculty and staff, as well as parents and guardians. One of the most successful programs was centered around the training for parents and guardians of students. Parents and guardians were invited to learn about Canvas while the district passed out laptops and hotspots. This parent-facing training helped enable an easy student transition of students into Canvas, while giving these parents/guardians a time to connect with their students. In fact, the students generally took to Canvas with ease, which can be attributed to the relentless planning and preparation by the district’s administration.

The bulk of the planning was around how to support the teachers and staff once fully remote learning began again in the fall of 2020. First, the district held a number of workshops and trainings with their teachers leading up to the fall semester. However, while these sessions were in the works, the district was hard at work behind the scenes.

Probably the single largest factor in the success of Fremont #14 was the use of local integration teams within each building. The administration decided it was important to have this local expertise in each building, and they were rewarded with a few core early adopters who enabled a culture of teachers helping other teachers. This culture allowed for teachers to share with each other their successes and joys in creating new Canvas content to deliver to their students. 

Another large district-level concern was that teachers would abandon Canvas once the school was finally able to resume in-person teaching. District leaders have found that this hasn’t been the case. In fact, Canvas seems to be entrenched as a delivery method for content, regardless of whether teaching is in-person or remote. It’s hard to imagine that this time last year, Wyoming Indian Schools were not using Canvas, and now it has become an integral part of education at all levels. While consulting was useful in giving direction to the Wyoming Indian Schools, their success is due nearly entirely to their administrative team including  Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Elizabeth Smiley, Todd Ghormley, District Instructional Facilitator, and all of their building tech leaders and early adopters.

If you have any success stories you’d like to share with the readership of this newsletter, reach out to David Stokowski to increase Canvas usage around the state. The WDE would like to spotlight and share any Canvas successes through the last year. 

Canvas Commons Consortium

Wyoming K12 Districts

For those teaching in a K-12 district in Wyoming, there is now a new option to share content with other Wyoming educators. When you choose to share content to Commons, you are presented with options on who can use the resource. In order to access Wyoming K12 Districts Consortium you will first need to select the box next to “Select Consortium(s),” and then you can choose the Consortium. This is a great way to share Wyoming-specific content with other Wyoming educators.

Canvas Commons Consortium Sharing and License  screenshot

Clever Pandas In-Training Course

Clever Panda Logo

This is a new professional development opportunity through the Wyoming Department of Education on advanced use cases of Canvas. The course can be taken for one full PTSB credit (14 total hours of anticipated time to complete the course). The Clever Pandas In-Training Course is now live and available for registration. Registration will remain open throughout the spring, but the course will be ending on May 31, 2021. Get your seat in the first-ever cohort so you too can be called a Clever Panda.

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. Our next meeting will be at 10 a.m. on April 27, 2021. The April meeting will focus first on a user-led discussion on Canvas successes throughout the state, and then transition into a demonstration of the newest Canvas features. If you would like to attend this meeting, please reach out to David via email to get added to the calendar invite.

Contact Information

David Stokowski - Canvas

Adoption Consultant

Robin Grandpre - WDE

Project & Performance Manager

Phone: 307-215-3060
Calendar: Calendly 

Phone: 307-777-5315