Authentic Experiences with Canva

A 5th grade Fundamental Writing teacher came to me last week seeking help. She said that in the past she has had her students list 7-8 life lessons that were learned from one particular subject. For example, a student may choose to list 7-8 life lessons learned from football, or dance, or George Washington. In the past, she would have her students use Keynote to deliver a presentation to their fellow students in order to create an authentic audience providing the students with a chance to share their passions with their classmates. However, this year, she felt as though due to time restraints (Welcome to teaching, right?! Time is our enemy!) she didn’t see it plausible to put aside as much time as she spent last year for the students to create and present using Keynote. She still wanted the students to complete the project as their was great learning that came with it, just on a smaller scale. As I started to think about her objectives, I was searching for a way for the students to still create some sort of visual representation to go along with their life lessons. This is where Canva stumbled into my life. The Director of Modern Learning, my boss, at our school uses Canva on a regular basis when he makes his own presentation and swears by it so I thought this would be a great time to give it a shot.

Before we jump into that, let’s go backwards for just a second. Originally, I suggested that the teacher use Adobe Spark Page with her students to create the visual for this project. Luckily, this teacher rocks and tested out Adobe Spark Page before she used it in class. She first used the app flawlessly as an adult and then thought, “Hmm let me pretend to be a 5th grader and make sure it will work for them.” Lucky she did because in order to use Adobe Spark Page, you must be 13. Clearly, we could have asked our students to change their birthdate, but that, first and foremost wouldn’t be honest, and secondly, what would we be teaching our students if we lead them down this path? So, we went back to the drawing boards and decided that Canva was the best app for this particular objective. Canva is SUPER user friendly, fun, and allows for a lot of creativity. Canva provides you with many different templates to choose from when creating your visual. For this particular project, we chose to use the Poster template with our students. For homework the night before using Canva, we asked the kids to download Canva and to “play around” with the app to get familiar with it. And of course, to spark interest into the next day. One of the beautiful things about Canva is that when you first download the app, they actually walk you through a tutorial. But not just any tutorial. Their tutorial teaches you and then asks you to demonstrate your learning. For example, they show you how to change the font and then they put you to the test and actually have you changed a font style. The screen will then say something like, “Great job!” before moving on to the next skill. I loved this feature as an adult, but especially for our students. I didn’t even have to teach them how to use the app because the app taught them for me! Canva, thanks for making my life easier! The next day in class we asked the students to create a Canva poster that visually showed 4-5 of their life lessons. The students were able to create their entire project in about 30-45 minutes. They then added their poster to their google drive folder, located the link to the poster, and added the link to a google doc that the teacher created so that other students could view and access their presentation. Students then viewed each other’s work and verbally provided feedback.

Student example:

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