Rachelle Pannullo talks us through the process of using Canva and TeacherMade to make online digital worksheets. She explains why she ditched LMS platforms like Google Docs to create online assessments and worksheets for her science class.
Why was it hard for you to use your LMS platform like Google Docs to create assignments?
For my middle school science class, I am constantly updating and improving older assignments, as well as designing new projects and practice sheets. When my district moved into a 1:1 model, our LMS did not have a tool that made it easy to convert all of my “traditional” assignments into digital ones. The options that were built into the system essentially had us retype and reformat every task and question but also locked them into that one system’s format. It was hard to edit, monitor, and grade the assignments once they were in the system and wasn’t worth the time investment to convert the assignments. TeacherMade enabled me to use my resources in an efficient way, with many more benefits than using my LMS’s options.
I would also waste so much time trying to manage “lost” papers and making new copies. TeacherMade has helped eliminate many of those problems that I struggled with during my first few years in the classroom.
How has TeacherMade affected student feedback in your classroom?
My students use TeacherMade almost daily, and for virtually every assignment I give them. Students have liked the instant feedback they get when using a TeacherMade assignment, and it's not uncommon for students to ask, “Can I have my work reopened?” when they see their auto score. Before I started using TeacherMade, students would not get feedback on an assignment for a few days, and they would rarely ask or want to attempt an assignment for a chance at a higher grade.
How has TeacherMade helped you make the jump to a greener classroom?
Throughout this school year, I have been revamping my old resources in Canva and then “TeacherMade-ing” them. Students have appreciated having assignments that aren’t just typed or copied word documents that are usually modified to fit into the least amount of paper copies possible. The Canva-created assignments are dynamic, colorful, and engaging and are designed to best fit the needs of the content, not the copier. I have been able to include more diagrams, tables, graphs, and other useful scientific resources because I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to print them or provide students with a copy in and out of class.
By using Canva and TeacherMade together, I have created some really amazing projects that wouldn’t be possible with just paper or even with using my LMS tools. For example, I just got done designing a virtual scavenger hunt through the Smithsonian Natural History Museum that would have taken me weeks to get done using other tools but took me three days by using TeacherMade and Canva together. If I had used my LMS tools, it would have been choppy and would have looked more like a state test rather than a fun activity.
Tell us how you design a digital assignment.
In the scavenger hunt, students are brought to an assignment page that mimics the Smithsonian’s own website, right down to the colors and graphics. The assignment then links them to the Smithsonian’s virtual tour page, and they are able to follow along in the assignment with pictures and maps. They can also share some of the interesting things they find along the way by adding their own “pictures” from the experience alongside answering questions about the exhibits. I created this activity as an end-of-the-year activity that students can work on together like they would on an in-person field trip. My goal is to create a series of virtual tour assignments as early finishers or extra credit assignments that I can use next school year. I have really enjoyed the freedom to create that I have found with TeacherMade and Canva.
What are the benefits of online digital worksheets and assignments?
Over the last two years, TeacherMade has improved my classroom in many ways. It has given me back a lot of my time, has made my students more independent learners, and has allowed my teaching team to share resources more easily. In our needs district, it has definitely eased us into the fully 1:1 transition and has allowed us to provide our students with quality resources, especially when things like paper and ink for the copiers were scarce.
I have run a few school- and district-wide professional development workshops to help teachers better implement TeacherMade in their classrooms and I’m planning on more in the future at our yearly E2 conference for the 2022-2023 school year.
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