Things I Wish I Would Have Known: Canvas Edition-Google Assignments

blog series

Introducing a new series, Things I Wish I Would Have Known: Canvas Edition. We will highlight things we wish we might have done differently when we started using Canvas and what you might consider updating in your course going forward. When back to school time hits it can be overwhelming to consider what updates to make in your Canvas course. Our hope with this series is that you will consider some changes you can make for next year and start implementing some of those new ideas now.

Three Big Reasons to Try Google Assignments in Canvas
  • If you used the predecessor to Google Assignments, Cloud Assignments, they are being deprecated in June 2024. Learn more about this in our earlier blog post. If you have any assignment that look like the one below, please be sure to take action.

screen of Google Cloud assignment

  • If you have Google Document that you ask students to make a copy of, you may be creating unknown barriers for students. Many students forget if they have already copied and started an assignment. If they did already start it, they may not be able to find it again. With Google Assignments, each student receives a labeled copy organized in a dedicated Drive folder, making it easy to keep track of submissions, and peak and their progress while they work.
    • In earlier years using Canvas, some teachers did not like it because:
      • You couldn’t use the Canvas Speedgrader, you had to use the Google grader–you now have the option to grade with Speedgrader.
      • People reported problems with it. In the early years of Canvas, there were a lot of problems talked about but these days I seldom hear of an issue.
  • One of the standout features of Assignments is the availability of originality reports. These reports scan student submissions against hundreds of billions of web pages and millions of books, helping you identify potential instances of plagiarism or missed citations. Each course is allotted five originality reports. When enabled students can even check over their originality report up to 3 times to help catch their errors. This feature would be an excellent reason to give Google Assignments a try before the end of the year.

Tutorial: Create a Google Assignment


Upcoming Virtual Days? Tips for Success

With State testing season upon us, you may have a virtual day coming up on your calendar. Please follow these tips to find success:

  1. If it has been a long time since you have opened Zoom, you will likely need to install an update. This is NOT as simple as clicking “update.” Please follow the guidance in this blog post.
  2. In an effort to manage funds, not all staff have licensed Zoom accounts. When you login to Zoom be aware of any notice that you have a limited account and are limited to 40 minute sessions. If you see this type of messaging, please submit a tech ticket so your account can be upgraded.
  3. Have students practice joining your Zoom, if possible. Related to that, check your Canvas page, do you have multiple Zoom links visible (perhaps in the Course Navigation Menu and near your name/room # on the homepage). To reduce confusion:
    1. Remove one of the options.
    2. Ensure that the duplicate links go to the same meeting.
  4. Add any necessary co-hosts following these directions. Bear in mind, page 8 of the manual gives directions specific to adding co-hosts to a Personal Room if that is what you intend to use.

For more Zoom resources, please visit our Zoom resources on the P-CCS Tech site.

If you are unsure about any of these steps, please submit a tech ticket for assistance.

Digital Literacy and Citizenship in the Classroom

digital citizenship with Common Sense

In our rapidly evolving digital world, it’s crucial that students develop strong digital literacy and digital citizenship skills. From navigating the internet safely to understanding the capabilities of artificial intelligence, our students need guidance to become responsible and informed digital citizens. That’s why incorporating Common Sense Media’s free educator resources is such a valuable opportunity for all educators.

Common Sense Media provides ready-made lesson plans and lesson collections tackling a wide range of relevant digital topics like digital security, managing digital distractions, and understanding AI. By creating a free account, teachers gain access to these amazing materials designed to build digital literacy in an engaging way. As educators, we have the chance to empower our students with the knowledge and skills required to thrive online. Bring Common Sense Media’s lessons into your classroom to prepare your students for success in our digital age with confidence.

lesson collection on digital well-being
Digital-well being lessons are available across grade levels.


lesson collection for elementary device advice
Lessons to foster device use in the classroom.


Range of lessons for 10th grade
Digital citizenship lessons can fit in a variety of subject areas.

March Madness for your Classroom

march madness

The fun surrounding college basketball’s March Madness can be translated to your classroom content. By using the bracket students can discuss and compare ideas. One tool, Flippity, stands out as a great option for customizing your own bracket for classroom use.

See Eric Curts’s blog post for step-by-step directions for set up and ideas for how you might use it in different content areas.

If you like the ideas of students discussing and ranking concepts, but don’t want to get swept up in March Madness, you can check out Eric’s Tier List activity and template.

March Canvas Updates

march Canvas updates

March 16, 2024 Canvas is releasing two welcome updates!

  • New Quizzes Item Analysis: Fill In the Blank Data now provides additional information on specific question types for instructors to evaluate student responses and provide appropriate intervention. Previously, if you had multiple blanks or dropdowns you would not get stats on all the blanks. Now you will be able to get data for each blank. See image below.

fill in the blank analytics

  • Multiple gradebook filter options can be applied at once.

gradebook filters

Video walkthrough:

Canvas Discussions Redesign Coming this Summer

canvas discussions redesign

This summer, Canvas is rolling out a redesign of the Discussions feature to provide a more modern, accessible, and user-friendly experience. While the core functionality of Discussions will remain intact, the new redesign brings a host of exciting enhancements.

What’s New in the Discussions Redesign?

  • Cleaner, more accessible UI with improved screen reader capabilities
  • Flexible viewing options including inline view and split view
  • Reply reporting with notifications for instructors
  • Quoting functionality to make referencing easier
  • Improved search with text highlighting
  • Support for full and partial anonymity in graded discussions—this functionality is currently turned off  for P-CCS until Canvas adds a moderation feature
  • Additional sorting and filtering options

The goal is to facilitate better peer-to-peer interaction and collaboration through a modernized discussion forum experience. Popular existing features like posting before seeing replies, marking posts read/unread, group discussions, peer reviews, and rubric support will continue to be available.

While some may be apprehensive about the changes, Canvas emphasizes that no current functionality is going away. The redesign aims to elevate the overall discussion experience by adding conveniences like quote replies, anonymous postings, and a more intuitive design.

So get ready to embrace the future of Canvas Discussions coming your way this summer! The refreshed interface and new capabilities will foster more engaging discourse for students and instructors alike.

Find more information here: 2024_Canvas-Discussions-Redesign_Data-Sheet.pdf – Google Drive

Heads up Google users, Google is changing the look of the sign-in page:

Google's new sign in page

What’s the same

  • The steps to sign in haven’t changed. You enter the same information you usually do, like your email address and password.
  • You use your account to sign in securely to the same Google services as before.

Why the page changed

The new sign-in page has a better layout for all screen types, which includes large and wide screens. The sign-in page adjusts to your screen’s size.

Where the change happened

The new sign-in page shows up on:

  • Computers
  • Phones
  • Tablets

You can find it when you sign in to a Google app or a Google service on a browser, like Chrome.

If you use an older version of a browser, you may still find the old sign-in page.

How to help keep your account secure

To take extra steps to strengthen your account’s security:

  • Do a Security Checkup to review security settings and activity.
  • Visit the Safety Center to find out about online security and privacy tools.

If you sign in on a device that’s not yours, learn how to browse in private to help protect your account.

New Student & Family Canvas Orientation

location of Canvas orientation link

In an effort to better help new students and families understand how to use Canvas, we have created a Student and Family Canvas Orientation. We plan to link it in several places throughout our public-facing websites. For now, it is conveniently linked in the “Help” area in Canvas.

location of Canvas orientation link

There is a family module and student module. They contain walkthroughs in several formats (video, interactive tutorial, and linked guides).

family module
Orientation Module for Observers/Families
students orientation modules
Module for Students

Individuals don’t need to be be logged into view the course, so you can also share the link directly. Please feel free to spread the word to anyone who would benefit from this resource. We will update this blog post when we add the link in other places.


Are your MiStar Grades & Assignments Visible?

We have gotten a few reports from students and families that MiStar grades and assignments aren’t visible for certain classes. Perhaps your turned off visibility at the end of the semester or have new semester courses, please take a moment to check that you have the correct setting turned on. You will want to “Share Assignment Information With Those Permitted Access.”

mistar grade settings

Please submit a tech ticket if you have questions.

Canvas February Updates

There are several updates coming to Canvas on February 17.

  • Calendar: Did you know you can set up appointment groups for students to sign up to meet with you? Coming February 17, you can also allow Observers to sign up for Appointment Groups.

  • New Quizzes updates include:
    • If you utilize Classic Quizzes for practice quizzes you’ll be able to migrate them to New Quizzes. When migrated, the settings for a practice quiz will automatically be enabled (worth 0 points and set to NOT display in the gradebook).

zero-point quiz settings enabled

    • New Quizzes has recently increased the speed of analytics for your quiz and now they are adding the option to export the data as a CSV.
    • There will also be answer frequency summary tables available for Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer, and True or False question types.

Go to Canvas’s Relase Notes for more information on these updates.