Not a Blank CANVAS! Enhancing Canvas LMS with Engaging Teaching
The Blended Learning Environment is reality with our school going 1:1, plus adopting a universal LMS by the District. Canvas is great, user friendly, multi-functional, presents well, visually pleasing, accommodates for diverse learners…I can sing the praises of Canvas ad nauseam. However, Canvas is not the answer to the problem, but only part of the solution of reducing the physical and emotional disconnect between student and teacher. Also, simply turning a pencil and paper class into one that presents from a computer does not magically make the class engaging. In fact, having students in front of a computer for hours loses much of its appeal and participation becomes a drudgery.
It is essential to assemble the right tools. The interent is a vast wilderness that has amazing resources when used properly. It also provides teachers with training to learn how to make their own, original work better. EdPuzzle is one of these tremendous tools with innumerable topics. However, the Blended Learning student will be seeing and hearing teachers that are not their own if only uploaded videos are used, even though they are being presented the content. This can create feelings that the student is no longer part of a particular teacher’s class, but just one in a sea of regurgitated mass information. Our Blended Learning students have chosen to be part of our class whether it is in-person or virtual and deserve to have a familiar face and voice be the one who is teaching them in order to develop a relationship with the teacher as they would have in non-blended scenarios. Creating original video and computer content will bridge the gap of digital disconnect.
Virtual is Now REALITY!!!
I want to purchase a classroom set of DSCVR Virtual Reality goggles that are universal to accommodate any smartphone, an iPad mini so the apps can be teacher lead and the class can explore as a group, and application access to use Google Expeditions and a variety of VR resources for the classroom. I want to take my students to places they would never dream they could visit. I may never be able to take them out of classroom due to persisting restrictions and financial demands, but I want them to see an amazing world that is simply glance away.
I am teaming up with the rest of the Social Studies Department to develop lessons and activities that we can share in order that all the students at our school can experience the amazing world of travel as I have in addition to exploring hundreds of other wonders. Virtual Reality allows for students of all ability levels to share in an experience together and then share their thoughts and reactions. Taking these virtual trips will create a sense of togetherness as all great vacations do. Students will be to no longer feel isolated and back out in the world exploring. I am also glad of the sustainability of this project, because the googles can be used for years.
The Innovation Grant will provide me the resources and training to take my classroom that is embracing a variety of formats to engage and educate my students and tie all those pieces together. Instead of randomly picking and choosing activities and media to present concepts, it will be cohesive and fluid. When I watched the promotional video seeing the structure of the self-paced learning, it made me realize that the work I do as a teacher can shift from being “presenter” to a role where I am as actively engaged with the students. I will be able to take the resources provided by the grant and create units and lessons that effective and efficient, but also create a space of learning that is tailored for each student by the student themselves. I will be able to provide differentiated instruction simultaneously without neglecting the pace of the class or the individual student levels. Instead of hoping to pull everyone to the middle, it will be teaching that moves everyone forward to their own level of success and mastery.