Category Archives: How-To Guides

Canvas: Advanced Instructor Workshop

For those teachers who would like to take a deeper dive into Canvas, I recommend checking out this Canvas: Advanced Workshop slide deck.  This resource can serve as a self-guided launching point to learn more about how Canvas can be leveraged in your classroom.

Among the topics that are included are: 

  • Google Integration
  • Instructor Basics
  • Assignments and Grading
  • Assessments
  • Discussions
  • Text/Email Notification Settings
  • Mastery Paths (individualization/personalization)

Further, you’ll find a link to enroll in Kung-Fu Canvas, our Canvas course for instructors, where you can explore Canvas topics from basic to advanced. 

Solving the “Google Authorization” Issue in Canvas

We’ve had relatively few ongoing technical issues with Canvas, but one of the problems that’s been a nagging issue that’s impacted our students and teachers is an issue with embedded Google documents. 

One of the features of Canvas is that it integrates with Google Drive; teachers can embed Google syllabi, assignment descriptions, sheets that students can collaborate on, etc., within Canvas.  Further, students can submit Google Docs as Canvas assignment submissions, embed Google docs in wikis and discussion boards, and so forth.  

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Updating Chromebook and Chrome Browser Software

One of the benefits of Chromebooks the Chrome browser is that they automatically update their software to the latest version, freeing up IT staff time to work on other issues.  We recently learned, however, that a handful of ICCSD Chromebooks were stuck on Chrome OS Version 61, which was preventing certain Chrome Apps – like Lexia – from loading.  

At any time, students and teachers can manually check for software updates on a district-issued Chromebook or in the Chrome browser on a Windows or Mac computer.  This can be an easy first step when an application is not loading or isn’t behaving as expected.  In order to check for a software update, follow the appropriate set of instructions below; the first set shows how to update a Chromebook, and the second shows how to update the Chrome browser.   

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Missing courses in Canvas? Read on!

We’ve received a number of support requests from individuals (students and teachers) who are missing courses in Canvas.  In the vast majority of cases, the Canvas enrollments are correct, but the user dashboard is customized such that the courses don’t appear when the user logs in.  Check out the steps (and video) below that show you how to customize which courses appear on your dashboard. 

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Canvas Parent/Guardian Access

Changes to the Canvas app and authentication system in early August caused our previous instructions for using the parent app to no longer work.  Please follow the instructions below to create a parent/guardian account, to access Canvas Parent from a computer web browser, to set up the Canvas Parent iOS/Android app, and to obtain a student pairing code from a student account.  Teachers can find instructions for how to obtain student pairing codes here.  

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PowerSchool and Classroom Tech Resources for Teachers and Staff

As we get started with the school year, I wanted to remind teachers and other staff members about some of our PowerSchool and classroom technology resources and videos. 

Power Teacher Pro: here, you’ll find step-by-step guides and videos relating to PowerTeacher Pro.  

PowerSchool Resources: these step-by-step guides walk you through basic PowerSchool tasks. 

Interactive Projector Videos: these video-walkthroughs show you how to use common interactive projector functions, and how to connect wirelessly to a projector.  

Classroom Technology Resources: these step-by-step guides will show you how to identify and use features of our classroom technology suite, including the new suite and the SMART Board/hub computer configuration.  

Canvas Period/Section Numbers

While I try to avoid getting too technical or specific in these blog posts, I’ve received enough questions on this topic in the past few days to think that it warrants its own mention.  The issue is this:  whereas our high schools and junior highs have 7 or 8 periods, PowerSchool has as many as 14 periods, depending on the building.  When Canvas synchronizes section names from PowerSchool, it uses the PowerSchool period numbers, meaning that the periods shown in Canvas don’t necessarily match the actual period of the day.  This results in section names that seem to indicate period numbers that don’t even exist, such as this section at North Central JH – an 8-period school – that appears to take place during period 14: 

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Handy Tools: the Snipping Tool

A couple of weeks ago I was presenting to a group of teachers, one of whom asked a question that I realized wasn’t addressed in a related how-to guide.  During the ensuing break, I decided to work on revising the how-to guide, a process that included taking a couple of screenshots, much like this one (below). 

Several of the teachers who were watching me develop this guide were in awe of the tool that I used to create my screenshots, the Snipping Tool.  One of the hidden secrets in Windows, the Snipping Tool is one of the utilities that I use on an almost-daily basis.  Whether I’m creating a how-to guide, developing a presentation that includes examples, reporting a software error, sharing a Google Map, or capturing a website, the Snipping Tool is my go-to.  

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Canvas How-To Guides

As we get ready to start the 2018-19 school year, our Technology & Innovation team has been busy at work preparing how-to guides to help our teachers, students, and community effectively utilize ICCSD technology resources.  

One of the sets of guides we’ve prepared focuses on teachers’ use of Canvas.  Check out this resource here, where you’ll find walkthroughs focusing on basic Canvas use, course-building, grading, assignments, and more.

In addition to the district-created guides linked above, parents wanting to make use of the Canvas Parent app should check out the guides available for iOS and Android.   

Use Screencastify to Record Screencasts

Did you know that the Iowa City CSD has a site license for Screencastify, a Chrome plugin that allows you to record your entire screen (not just Chrome)?  For teachers thinking about flipping a lesson, staff members providing a walkthrough of an on-screen process, or a student recording a presentation, screen recording software can be of great value.  

The Screencastify plugin allows ICCSD teachers, staff, and students to record an unlimited number of videos, each of unlimited length, which can then be uploaded to YouTube, shared via Google Drive, or downloaded as an mp4 file or animated GIF.  In order to use the ICCSD site license, you just need to authenticate with your @iowacityschools.org or @icstudents.org Google account.  

For instructions or more information, check out our guide.