Mathematics and Canvas


A school that has just moved to Canvas asked how we were using Canvas within our mathematics department. In replying to the question it has been nice to reflect on what is being enabled through using a Learning management system like Canvas for maths.

So here is the content that was sent in reply.

Hmmm, maths and Canvas! This is going to be a good reflective exercise. let’s get into it! Doug Vass and Tom Lever have particularly been leading things really well with use of Canvas in Maths. We have been experimenting with a number of things and it is progressing well so far. I am personally impressed with the maths department in what is being achieved, we are certainly on a journey and I feel that richer learning is at the front of what is being implemented. We are  getting there and at the stage where things can really happen.

Some things that are progressing well:

Teachers keeping a record of daily work as assignments.
This goes though to students online diaries and is also great for students that missed work and for going back and seeing what was done.

Sharing of files at a class and course level:
for past papers and the like at course level and all sorts of other files can be shared at either level. An interesting one is notability files where students can “open in notability” and then continue to edit the file on their iPad as their own notes.

Content built collaboratively by staff as modules in the staff work are and imported into courses. Modules are the go here where teachers can collaboratively build content including files, assignments, quizzes, discussions etc etc to be pulled together and when imported into a course it replicates all the parts in the new course! Pretty neat! It was used today for all year 8 and 9 boys as we rolled out the PBL project that is the next assessment!

Canvas quizzes as part of assessments, the last two assessments for a few year groups have had a 20-30 min canvas multiple choice quiz as part of the mark. It was pretty daunting the first time but it has worked well and formed what will probably be a regular part of formal assessments! The Analytics and simplicity of marking are game breakers! The built in feedback is probably the next step.

Summary so far:

It is challenging being authentic and appropriate for maths but it has been great seeing the choices and the progress that has been made. All along we are also building resources with the goal of reuse for next year and beyond to make it substantially easier!

Still to come! In motion! On the horizon!

Collaborative and shared document areas:
at the moment there is a “collaborations” tab in Canvas but it only allows Google docs (or ether pad) this is pretty cool as it looks after all the permissions for users but we really need a collaborative area where we can share files and folders of all types including maths specific types like geogebra files and the like. This is apparently in the pipeline for Canvas but in the interim we have been working with staff and students in how to build this themselves with sharing and collaboration using Google Drive folders at class level as well as for smaller groups.

Media and content creation:
Learning by creating content is a great focus and in our STEM festival week in October we are going to run with a maths specific look at creating short videos to explain concepts and then use these videos to create the student built content for one topic. We will end up with a set of personalised reusable resources as a bonus to the session! This is going to be an iPad specific session as it is a no brainer when done right.

Canvas Discussions in maths!:
From visiting a couple of schools last week and seeing some of the uses of tools for good practice I saw a great example from a maths teacher at Jenny Luca’s school (Toorak College) one maths teacher showed how she had used discussions to engage the students and really get what they were understanding and not understanding. I loved that they did not get caught up in the equation editor side of things and instead used the techniques used in typing spreadsheet formulae or similar. The discussion became about the learning and what they were understanding (and what they were not!) Students started the discussions and then continued them? I loved the fact that the discussion was rich and also that the quiet students have a chance to have a big input! I look forward to giving this a nudge at different levels!

A couple of Maths teachers have shown an interest in their students blogging. This is exciting and we are continuing with our blogging trials to add a “maths” category so that students can have a bit of a portfolio of content as pages and posts. This is also great in that students can submit the link to a post or page as their submission of work in Canvas where it is given as an option. It also ticks a whole lot of boxes as part of our Digital Citizenship training in covering a number of negatives by modeling positive behaviours! STAY TUNED!

In closing:

WOW it has been pretty cool to spend some time and look at where things have got to and where we would like them to be. It has been a full on journey with each department of the school but it is nice to see things coming together like this.

Stay tuned for more soon!

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