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Howdy.  I apologize in advance if this is the wrong place to ask this.  How do I actually create content in "Free For Teachers"?  I have an existing Canvas account, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to actually create content there! I know I am missing some fundamental piece of information! 

 

Thanks in advance!

Susan Jones

Quizzes, quizzes...

Posted by Susan Jones Aug 15, 2017

My attempt to make a little "you grew up and never learned your math facts?"  course ... 

 

I dream of being able to have a practice deck -- two from this group, three from that group, two from the other... now let's scramble them!    Do it again        Looking for "mindful mastery" as opposed to "mindless rote..."   and recognizing that it probably really honestly doesn't matter if the quiz is in a predictable order so BACK TO IT... 

 

Still wish I could ... you know..."save and keep this copy to edit" so I could make lots of similar questions quickly.   My hour combing for "where's all tha tnew stuff with quizzes they were going to unveil at the conference" ... no gold... 

 

And good grief!!!!!   To change order of questions in a quiz... I "can" grab and drag them.   Oops, no I can't, if they have to go beyond a screen.   I either have to click "move to" and say where it's going or ... shrink my zoom.  Getting into MacGyver All Day zone ... 

 

And no, if I pick the wrong group (I don't want the ones with pictures)... too bad so sad, you can't edit that. Do it over!   Of course I can't do it over where it is -- no, I'm going to have to make a new question and then move it.   

 

I love open but if it's going to take more time than I have then... I'll be going to other resources.   I already tabled this once.  

Susan Jones

Re-entry pains

Posted by Susan Jones Aug 1, 2017

Summer's Almost Over!  So!   I promised myself 5 hours this week on the "facts modules" ... 

 

And bam!  Brick wall.  Seven minutes to figure out how to edit my module since "edit" means changing how much it's indented on the page... no, I have to duck in and quickly, quickly!!!!  find "edit" before the page moves to the "getting to 5" link that happens too automatically. 

Still, good to be back at it  

I've put Canvas on a back burner since March since we got the okay to develop a basic Math course in our LMS, D2L.   (It was chosen over Canvas because our institution needed multiple-correct-answers options in multiple choice tests and at decision time that wasn't an option.)   We've really only just begun but now that semester's over I'd hoped to get back and work on my "basic facts for older students" little course here.  

 

I've missed Canvas and the community, and really looked forward to learning cool stuff (like I already did with generating random numbers and choosing from random stuff from Gerol Petruzella  )... code snippets and all that. 

 

Well, one of the more critical elements in this fluency building exercises was the "leveling up" idea.  As in... if you did well, you leveled up. 

As in, Mastery Paths. 

I had already set them up in one exercise. 

 

I come back and find out that's not set up any more.   No, somebody decided that "because it is beta" my Free For Teachers account won't let me do that.   

When I asked, I got this from the "L1 Tech Support" : Thank you for contacting Canvas Support, unfortunately Mastery Paths is not available for our Free for Teachers accounts. I apologize for that. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help you with. Thank you and have a great day! 

 

Welp,  part of me wants to take my ball and go home ... but ... L1 Tech Support is not the folks I've been playing on the field with and neither are the twerds who decided to reel in what a humble teacher can do.   

So... even though there are whole parts of the field I'm not allowed to play on, I'm going to scrabble under the fence and see what I can learn and create.   

 

I just wish I'd known about this *before* I said good things about Canvas at our conference, based on how much I could do in FFT.   I won't let that happen again.  

Susan Jones

Newbies, shoaling

Posted by Susan Jones Mar 11, 2017

When a bicyclist approaches a traffic light and passes the cars to sneak up to the front, it's called "shoaling."  

Canvas Community has turned its "gamification" over and I had enough points to get 500 of 'em grandfathered in, and I'm near the top of the stack because doing "training" kinds of things grants points, as does every comment ... and calling out of people and... and... 

Adam Williams  replied to a comment and suggested I blog about being FFT and about gamification and CanvasLive etc. 

The Canvas Community is very responsive ... especially since most of my questions are basic, often 'why doesn't this work?' the answer often being 'because it's Canvas! -- here's a workaround' ... 

CanvasLive is a great way of getting folks sharing "in the trenches" ideas.   This is how I got the scoop on "mastery paths" -- and the presenter even had my reasons for doing it in mind:  to have different presentations available if you didn't "get it' the first time.   THe quick availablility on YOuTube is effective (though the "fast track" links to the uncaptioned videos is less so).   

    THat said, the whole "popularity is what steers design" approach has inherent flaws which should be addressed.  I am not comfortable with Canvas as LMS for courses for basic adult ed students.  

I currently work in a tutoring center, so I get to work with students using our LMS (not Canvas) and assorted other tech.   The tech designed by eager people at the cutting edge (not to mention any names, CONNECT) are a walking disaster and 

seriously impede learning the content as the students have to wrestle with the stupid tech.  

 

, NOTE TO SELF: REMEMBER:   Make quizzes *in a bank* not a quiz if you want to  re-use them!   Otherwise you have to export the whole quiz (finding the direcitons for that), import it again, and then try to remember which quiz was which.  

  

I'm also working on a D2L project -- where I can click "copy quiz" and voila! I have another copy to go in and play with... 

... and that's enough rambling for now!  

I'm taking BlendKit2017 on Canvas ... and hoping to use some of the stuff I'm playing with here, there (tho' it's with my "parkland college" identity b/c I know I'll still have a job for the next five weeks).   

I'm also wondering why, in the reworking of the "community," I don't seem to be following anybody any more.   I'm going to just wait a while to see if it's something somebody's processing... 

  Going to try to embed,,, okay, don't see html possibilities in here so ... back to the lesson to try it there~

Susan Jones

I've embedded!

Posted by Susan Jones Feb 14, 2017

  I found The specified item was not found.    and used it to embed a game from the NCTM illuminations math exercises into my little course. I'll also provide a link so that students can go there.

   I'll want to make some quizzes that do the equivalent, but it's a neat option and worked quickly and easily.   Hooray    https://illuminations.nctm.org/Activity.aspx?id=3564   

If your school has one of those very limited LMSs or just an SIS and no actual LMS, a Canvas FFT can allow you to get your students using their technology at a higher, more professional level. Tech in education should be about so much more than digitized worksheets and a digitized typewriter. If you have to use your computer to send out assignments which students may or may not receive, then you are still passing stuff out; you're just doing it digitally. If students are emailing you back pictures or pdfs of their work, then it is business as usual, but digitally.

 

As soon as you walk into the world of Canvas, you are able to build an online course with a rich variety of tools and tasks linked in a variety of possible hierarchies. You can add to it and change it on the fly, updating it as information in the world changes: it is all live. You are not passing out a thing that is then dead and gone from your hands. Students log on and access the live, ever-changing, ever-updating content you are building. This is a fundamental difference which frees the instructor to create explosively more dynamic courses. This is the difference between picking up a paper copy of the New York Times and logging on to a live NYT feed.

 

It works in the other direction as well. Work created by a student should never really be done or dead: it should be under constant revision, getting upgraded as more info (and skill) becomes available. Some things, sometimes, are done once and left behind... but not most. Few instructors want a student to consider the first draft of something to be the final draft: that is a concept literally "left over" from the days of paper and pencil... from the days when inserting new information literally meant starting all over with a fresh sheet of paper in a typewriter. And that time is gone.

 

Or it should be. When we lock in documents and other works that are either being delivered or collected, we've grabbed a dead snapshot. When we leave them in a live state to be accessed by all interested parties, they are under continuous construction and upgrade. They are also part of constructive (and nearly always creative) collaboration. The value of this in laying the conditions for problem-solving cannot be overstated. We become part of a cooperative think-tank with our students. Differentiation and teamwork are built in. Think about that. Those are terms traditionally viewed as being at odds with one another. But when content and student work are kept live, a symbiotic relationship is born.

 

This is education in the purest sense of the word. Students and Instructors of this completely connected world should settle for nothing less.

Susan Jones

Exploring Question Banks

Posted by Susan Jones Jan 10, 2017

  I'm trying to make a module for learning the addition facts.  I work with grownups who discreetly are still counting (either on their fingers or in their heads) or using calculators for everything.   My experience has been that described in this blog post by Michael Pershan Missing Factors: On Learning What You Don’t Know – Teaching With Problems   in which  he  describes a teaching experience, and cites research showing that students w/ learning handicaps stuck to counting even with lots and lots of games for practice in basic facts.   They just learned to count as fast as they could.  Welp, when you get to algebra, it *really* gets in the way.  I want a way out!

   In the cited research, the 'solution' was to provide the answer quickly.   I'm wondering whether we can't leverage technology  and, in  "SAMR" jargon -- get from Substitution and Augmentation up at least into Modification and lean a little into Redefinition of an educational experience.  Specifically, can we integrate "concrete-representational-abstract" progressions into learning the facts?  

      Even more basic than that:   can I build in the review into quizzes?   My Orton-Gillingham training and immersion taught this skeptic the value of practicing to automaticity.   I get bored with practice long before the students, especially when we're tracking progress.

So, to How do I create a quiz with a question group linked to a question bank?    and I think I've got it!

Question Banks (Admins)  was also useful (it's not just about 'administrative' stuff -- it includes the basic 'how to do it.')  

     My next search for Question Banks info then gets a question about somebody where the same question was repeated between 8 and 16 times out of 60 questions... on the final exam...   not the end of the world for drill , tho' it's not good.  The idea that randomly selected questions should be set up not to repeat a selection seems obvious  would be a special feature that a person could try getting votes for?    I suppose I shouldn't broach "could I pull in the questions from the assorted groups, and then... once I've got 25 questions... have it *then* randomize them all?"   I know just enough to know that good Object Oriented Design would make that  possible (and also enough to know what a challenge that is )

    So!   Back to the practical.   I am thinking of making completely separate banks for each quiz and doing the "send to another quiz bank" with the individual questions.  Then we'll see how it plays out.   I've broken the math addition facts into 12 chunks (per https://canvas.instructure.com/files/47799716/download?download_frd=1    this excel file)   and I've done the first two.   Yes, it's different working without the assumption that "this has been designed to work so keep trying!"  -- I have to go to "oops, that's probably glitchy... what's another way to do this, or something simpler?"   That's #goopen

When school opened in August, we knew we were going to be up against one obstacle that would be a source of stress for every student, teacher, and administrator in our school: the loss of our previous LMS. We still had a district-wide SIS, and a very small and very limited LMS, but we would be without the robust LMS on which we had become dependent, one that had been financed with money from a grant which had expired.

 

We are a Project-Based Learning school with 1:1 technology. Among other things, this means our students use their school-issued MacBooks more like working adult professionals than like kids: Our students use their laptops to manage and assign work within their groups, to monitor and edit task boards and logs, to develop and resolve Need-To-Know lists that are cross-referenced with rubrics, to conduct-organize-apply research, collaborate in each step of the process (whether a group member is in another state or on a bus to a band competition or in the same classroom), to develop written reports of their findings, to cooperatively build digital multimedia products and coordinate formal presentations, and to publish to a community of their peers, as well as reaching out to the community.

 

Our students may have projects going on simultaneously in as many as eight or nine different courses, and they are graded in five variously-weighted categories for each course. Managing agendas, emails, course and group discussions and project assignments can be complex. Teachers are using a wide array of digital tools to deliver content and guide progress, and we all dive in and try new things as they appear on the horizon.

 

"Where do I find what's due? Where and how do I submit? How do I monitor my grades so I can catch problems before the end of a term, when it's too late?" The answers were different depending on the project, the course, the group... It was a stressful juggling act for students. Grades alone were a diversified conglomerate of data: Students needed to know how much the rubrics in 40 different categories were going to effect their GPA. "Where do I publish assignments? Where and how can I manage and grade student work? How can I see data on outcomes? How do I provide resources? How do I make differentiated material and project paths available? Where do I house flipped learning videos and Intervention material, and how do I track it, compile it, report it, archive it?" Teachers were having to patch together a wide variety of online tools, and, in many cases, print out results to enter by hand into a different platform that could not import data or files from anywhere else.

 

We –– students and teachers –– had used our expansive access to digital tools in ways that had transformed learning beyond anything an ordinary LMS could accommodate, and when we tried to squeeze into one, it just didn't work. We were too deep into the digital world to just ditch it all and go back to paper, or to fall back to just using technology as glorified paperwork. Once you know that massive levels of collaboration and cross-referencing are possible, you can't un-know...

 

We tried sample versions of a variety of LMSs aimed at both educational and business applications. Stress mounted. and then, one by one, we started using the FFT version of Canvas. Because it was the free version, there was no school-wide administrator level account and no communication with the SIS, which leaves a mountain of data entry to be done manually, but other than that, this was the one place that could accommodate almost everything we were doing more than anything else we had tried (and we'd tried them all).

 

I am happy to say that our district found a way to purchase the full "with-admin" version for us, for the remainder of the year. We are working on getting the bulk of our content into Canvas over the winter holiday, in hopes that our students will have been added via the SIS by the time school is back in session (or shortly after... we are prepared to just straddle multiple systems until the first progress report, if need be).

 

People in education technology talk about ways of achieving the highest SAMR levels: how do we use technology in the classroom as more than a digitized worksheet? The tricky part is that once you get staff and students using digital tools to access, manipulate, and create a wider variety of data than would ever have been possible on paper, once you have everyone in your learning community collaborating outside of physical, geographical, and temporal restrictions, across platforms, with a wider variety of online tools and access than would ever have been possible on paper, once everyone is using and doing all of this, corralling it all so everyone can find everything becomes monumental, which is precisely why it would "never have been possible" on paper.

 

Imagine going into a bricks-and-mortar library and being told that all of the books were shelved in totally random order, and then trying to find a specific book. The right LMS not only enables and promotes transformational education, but the wrong LMS or no LMS inhibits,  frustrates, and truncates attempts at those higher SAMR levels, especially if you are making a school-wide effort. The right LMS removes barriers and allows teachers, students, and administrators the freedom to fly.

Susan Jones

I hit publish...

Posted by Susan Jones Dec 24, 2016

Back when this "service learning" course I'm wrapping up was active (it ended 12/6, but we can finalize our submissions and submit 'til 12/31) I tried to let another person peek at the Canvas course I'm mucking about with as the "extra credit" part of the course.

   Seems we had to invite each other to be TA's to look at the materials.  

   I *think* that is because the course isn't "published."   Since I'm "Free for Teachers" I have no idea what the 'administrative' ramifications of publishing are, but I figured that if the folks at the service learning course were going to be able to check it out, I'd have to do that.   I logged out of the other 'puter and ... seems I could get to things at Course Modules: Math for Transportation: Introductory Lesson    even if I weren't logged in. 

    I've spent today's hours trying to figure out which files should go where.  

    ** That idea about letting people see what something is before they click into it would be really useful to me!!!**   I can think of the best titles I can, but I don't always remember which of the 10 or so videos & lessons I'm looking at.  Since breaking things into tiny chunks is an important part of my design,  I need to figure out a way to manage that (which might be a low-tech 'make an annotated list of your titles, dear, and stick it on the wall!')  

     I'm going to be making mad revisions betwixt now and the end of the year (and beyond)...

Susan Jones

Working on first quiz!

Posted by Susan Jones Nov 13, 2016

Easily found the nice How do I create a quiz with a question group to randomize quiz questions?    and I like that the "alt tag" is right there on the front to prompt me to write what my image is.   Since the answers *are* images, that's important.  

 

Realized I'd forgotten one of my cute number bar images but looks like I have to go out and in to get access to it when making the quiz; it's not updating the "files" catalog on the tab I'm using to make the  quiz, though it's updated in the tab where I dropped it in.  (Yes, loving drag and drop, too!)   ... but it worked nicely.  DIdn't lose anything along the way.

 

So... next question:   can I copy a question and edit it (since I'll have exactly the same answers to choose from, but different questions)? 

 

time to search   

I have been a 11 year-old scout leader for almost 2 years now and have been looking for an easier way to track what my scouts have accomplished along their pathway to rank advancement. I have looked at a few other tracking systems in the past, but the cost of the system, though not particularly steep, seemed to be the sticking point. We currently track our scouts by photo-copying the rank requirement pages and signing off those and then once a month we update the scout's handbook so its current. The problem we have is there is only one set of records and usually parents will contact me or the other scout leader about where their scout is and we sometimes don’t have that information handy or have to send them to the other scout leader.

 

Being a Canvas administrator I realized I had a great platform and mobile apps to track this information and give access to the other scout leader and possibly the scout's parents, the last part is a bit ambitious so I am focusing on tracking first then add the bells and whistles later. I logged into my FFT Canvas account and created a new course and set about devising how I could track this information.

 

In Utah 11 year-old scouts, (Blazers to us old enough to remember), focus on getting through the rank requirements before they turn 12. So in short order we try to get them through their Scout, Tenderfoot, Second class, and as much as or all of First Class rank requirements. Usually we try to run through all the requirements in 6 months so we can repeat the process twice a year to ensure all scouts have an opportunity to pass of the requirements. That’s a lot of information to track and coordinate in a short amount of time, and it seems like a good plan in theory but executing that plan is a challenge, so tracking is vital especially when we need to hand that information off to the 12 year-old leaders to continue helping them advance.

 

Planning

 

I weighed the different options of how to track the scouts and determined the fastest way to get started was to use complete/incomplete assignments for each requirement and organize them in assignment groups according to the rank. I wanted to have the assignment have the basic requirement information so I wanted to name them based off of the requirement number, (i.e 1a, 1b, 2), and the requirement description be the assignment description. Now I needed a way to get them into a usable format.

 

The Boy Scouts of America had a handy PDF of the current requirements for download so I was able to copy and paste them into a text editor to manipulate them into a format I could utilize. It took a lot of cleaning up, but I was able to get them into a readable format. I first created basic text files of each rank requirements and then set out to determine how best to get them into Canvas, to semi-quote Liam Neeson from Taken, "…what I do have are a very particular set of skills [with the Canvas API and Python]."

 

Creating 120+ assignments by hand and adding them to the correct assignment group was not something I was willing to do, I had already spent several hours cleaning up the text, so I turned to the Canvas APIs to create the assignments. I first created the assignment groups named after each rank and using the API got each assignment group ID for the next step. The easiest way for me to do this, would be to create a CSV file of the rank requirements split up into the assignment name, description, type, group, and point value. I would then write a Python script to take the values from the CSV file to create an assignment for each requirement and place them into the appropriate assignment group. Turning the text files to CSV did take some time but I had warmed up the regular expression part of my brain and was able to get it done much faster than the text cleanup. I ran the script for each rank and had the assignments created within a few minutes.

 

Users

 

My next challenge was what to do about the scouts? My answer came in a sneaky hack Google added into their Gmail system. You can take any Gmail, Google apps, or Google apps for education address and before the @gmail.com or other domain put +whatever to piggy back a unique email address off your own account. So if I was Liam Neeson and had a FFT Canvas account under the Gmail address of liam.neeson@gmail.com I could use liam.neeson+fatheroftheyear@gmail.com to create another user account in FFT Canvas and it would still send emails to liam.neeson@gmail.com but still be a unique address to Canvas. Using this little hack in Canvas FFT I created accounts for each of my scouts that pointed back to my email address.

 

Putting It into practice

 

I finished it in time for our troop meeting and I logged into my FFT account using both the mobile app and SpeedGrader on my phone. From there I was able to use the attendance tool and the SpeedGrader to mark the requirements we went over that night as completed for each scout. It was very easy to use and I even got the other scout leader setup with his own account and he installed the mobile apps as well so he has access to the same information. I also accepted the invitation for each one of my scouts which allows me to use the gradebook CSV to bulk enter their requirements.

 

Future enhancements

 

I have been sharing it with others I work with that are involved with scouts and they offered some suggestions that I am going to consider implementing. Some of the suggestions include:

• Tracking campouts, activities, service project hours, etc…

• Adding the parents as observers to their scout so they can see the progress at anytime

• Changing the default email address of the scout's account to one of their parents so I can use the communications tools in Canvas

• Turning some of the requirements into an online submission assignment where the scout has to provide evidence of their requirement completion

• Incorporating Rubrics and/or Outcomes for requirements that need demonstration of understanding

 

This was quite a fun project to get going and it also gave me another valuable script that I can use at work if needed. I will post the course in Commons so that anyone can use the course and feel free to make changes and improvements or if you have suggestions of your own feel free to contact me anytime.

Susan Jones

Beginning again :)

Posted by Susan Jones Oct 17, 2016

I've got two Canvas accounts -- one associated with the college where I work and then the Free for Teachers that I've gotten through "Instructional Design Service Course:  Gain Experience for Good" here on Canvas... so I'm abandoning the college one to be consistent (and because the college has nothing to do with the course -- I'm doing it on my own)...

... and having fun figuring out how to incorporate images and concepts in math...

Oh, Canvas FFT, it is all coming together beautifully...did you know?

 

I now have a mark book that produces a current grade average automatically...I can see who are the top performers and those that need more support and scaffolding... differentiation for class tasks and prep is now not only feasible but evidenced.

 

Did I mention how much I love the SpeedGrader and being able to moderate quizzes? How I've found resources in the Commons that save me time in planning? How I can email students to congratulate for being above the exceptional threshold in a test, and set resubmission assignments for those that didn't pass? How I can set and monitor cover work for when I'm home ill, like today?

 

Now, if only I could get them all to actually open their emails and accept the invitation to the course...

 

Top tip: don't give them more than they can handle. I've made the homepage Modules and the only other option is Grades; they can't get lost or confused... probably.