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Tip of the Week: Canva – solution to the end of the year blues

As you count down the final days and hours, many of you are having students create final products and assessments. We often ask kids to create these end of year projects in textual form. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Writing is proof of thinking. But there are are other types of assessments that can also measure levels of thinking that we sometimes forget about, ignore, or just don’t know about.

The Instructional Arc of the National Council for the Social Studies and my own C4 Framework ask kids to solve problems and communicate solutions. Both are based on the national and state literacy standards that ask students share research and solutions in a variety of ways:

  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • Present adaptations of arguments and explanations on topics of interest to others to reach audiences and venues outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, reports, and maps) and digital technologies (e.g., Internet, social media, and digital documentary).

The problem seems to almost always revolve around finding and using a tool that free, easy to use, and that supports the Instructional Arc and literacy standards. One possible answer?


I’ve written about Canva a bit in the past. I shared the tool with folks at the Kansas / Missouri Council for History Education conference and at the NCSS conference in Boston last fall. And maybe you’re already using it. But if you haven’t looked at it or if it’s been a while, go back and check it out.

At its most basic, Canva is a free online tool that provides a way to quickly create visual representations of data and information. You can choose from a wide range of templates, fonts, images, and layouts. You also have the ability to upload your own images and other content. When a student finishes a product, they can share it in a variety of different ways. So you’ve got a tool that encourages creativity, supports writing, and allows for sharing outside your classroom. Seems like a no brainer.


But it just got better.

Canva now supports the creation of infographics. I love infographics. A good infographic quickly and clearly is able to share a lot of information in a short amount of time, show connections, and takes advantage of the brain’s ability to process data visually. Using Canva, you and your students can create beautiful infographics in minutes. Use them on blog posts, social media posts, or as an option for your end of the year projects.

Start with their quick online overview. Then spend some time at their Design School.

A couple of suggestions? Before you unleash your kids on Canva, share your rubric with them. Require them to submit a textual outline of their information. Ask them to create a rough draft of the layout. What images will they use? Depending on the grade level, demand a works cited page. Canva is simply a creation tool that proves thinking has already happened, not the thinking itself.

While Canva was originally designed as a web-based tool, there are also mobile versions of it.

Do you have time to use it yet this spring? Maybe. If not, tuck it it away for next fall.

Have fun!

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