Why This Teacher Loves Canva

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I sat in an eighth-grade math teacher’s classroom, working on problems she shared with her students using Mathspace. I do not usually enjoy multi-step math problems but found myself delighted and completely engaged. Reflecting on it later, I realized a significant part of the experience was Mathspace’s sleek, modern design. I like Google Classroom more than LMSs in part because of its beautiful design but it took my Mathspace experience to realize an important rule when creating digital learning experiences for students:

Design Counts!

If we want students to engage in digital lessons, we owe it to them to make learning materials visually appealing. Personally, I enhance imagery to make Google Sitesdigital breakouts, and YouTube thumbnails that look good and hook students. Canva is a great tool for teachers and students to create imagery that adds beauty to their creations.

Making an image in Canva is easy. Users can create images with template dimensions such as Facebook and Twitter posts, and, my favorite, YouTube thumbnails. Additionally, users can set custom dimensions such as 800 x 200 (Google Classroom images) and 767 x 280 (Google Sites banner images):

The Wikimedia Commons is a great source for copyright-friendly images to jazz up a lesson. Here is how to easily upload them into the Canva editor:

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Canva lets teachers make images more dramatic or cheerful with Instagram-like filters:

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A great tool to use in conjunction with Canva is the Colorzilla Google Chrome extension. It allows users to grab any color they see in an image and use it to make more elements. Additionally, Canva’s transparency tool is another way for amateurs to become instant graphic artists:

Canva is a great tool for students to use their creativity. My colleague Cristie Watson had students create six-word memoirs in Canva which inspired me to make my own:

Teachers looking for more ways to incorporate Canva into instruction should look at their lesson plans as well as tutorials and design resources.

There two small drawbacks. I use the free version of Canva so I cannot make images with transparent backgrounds. That is why I made this site’s favicon in Google Drawings. Additionally, images can only be cropped into rectangles, unlike Google Drawings which allows users to crop with different shapes. These drawbacks make Google Drawings a better tool for making digital badges.

We want our students engaging in the 4Cs in our classrooms. That engagement becomes inevitable when we engage in them ourselves. Canva is a great tool for tapping your inner creativity and drawing it out of students too.

Author’s Note: I have not been compensated for writing this. I have not collaborated with Canva. They were unaware I that I worked on this post.

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I Made a Jeopardy QR Code Board – You Can Too!

Jeopardy QR Codes

My colleagues Tara Hewitt and Ryan Miller developed the idea of a Jeopardy board to encourage participants at the Orange County Schools Summer Conference to tweet their learning. They wanted a physical Jeopardy board with QR codes participants could scan to access Twitter challenges. After the challenges – the answers in this Jeopardy – were written, it was up to me to use technology to make it happen.

Good thing I attend EdCamps! I met Jessica Schouweiler at EdcampWNC in Fall 2015. She shared a Google Sheet that automatically generates QR codes for websites. Make a copy for yourself. So now making QR codes is easy. But what should those QR codes point to?

I decided to use Google Slides to make the challenges. Using the Colorzilla Google Chrome extension, I matched the Jeopardy blue color and made it the background color. Each hint (fifteen in all) were separate Google Slides presentations. Each was exactly one slide. Making exact copies of each file is easy. Right click on the file in Drive and choose “make a copy.”

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Then simply change the text. Make a copy of one of these slides for yourself. Then publish each slide to the web.

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I then put each URL into the QR Google Sheet referenced above. I screen captured the individual QR codes and pasted each into a new Google Slides presentation with 8.5in x 11in dimensions.

I used Canva to design the category heading images. I set my image to 8.5in x 11in. I used Colorzilla to set the color to the Jeopardy blue and used the Roboto font which does not quite match the Jeopardy font but is good enough. I downloaded each as a PNG (not a JPG) to maintain quality when printing.

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Here is how the board looked after printing and stapling:

Jeopardy Board

And how each Twitter challenge looked when participants scanned them:

Jeopardy on Phone

Have a look at the tweets with the conference hashtag, #FirstChoice4PD.

Thank you for reading this post. If you have any questions, please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom.