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10 amazing ways to use Canva in your classroom

Canva might just be the biggest disruption to education since Google threw their hat in the ring and toppled Microsoft’s tools.

I’ve used Canva for a long while, and I didn’t think for a moment it would have quite such an impact in the classroom but the progress made in the last 18 months, and the investment and time they put into their educational provision has been outstanding.

Canva is currently FREE to all educators, it is web based and incredibly user friendly. Primarily a graphic design tool, Canva also offers some very interesting tools and tricks that can have an impact in every classroom.

1. A Presentation Tool!

Canva has so many great templates to use to create an engaging set of slides for any teaching subject. But of course it is also totally customisable and there are so many easy to grab elements and photos to add in that you don’t need to go searching off trying to find the right picture on Google. Even if you do – it is easy to import into Canva, you can just copy and paste straight into the browser editor, or use the upload tool.

2. Graphic Organisers – Templates Galore

Higher order thinking in lessons is the future and Canva have you covered with some already great tools – just hit search on ‘Graphic Organizers’ and you’ll be given a wealth of great starting points to create the perfect activity. You can even share the templates with a link so that students can use Canva to type their answers

3. Worksheets – or App Smash with Wizer

In the last twelve months Canva has exploded with ready to use worksheets, though many are simplistic, it gives a great first step into creating fun looking worksheets. Combine this with either (as above) sharing it so that they can access it through Canva, or go one step further and App Smash with Wizer, where you can import templates directly from Canva when creating your interactive worksheets

4. Google Classroom Banners

A great way to start the year or term – Send a template to the students (or use the ready made templates on Canva already, just search Classroom Banner) and have them come up with creative banners for their Classroom page. If you can, change the banner each week with a new student’s effort – it gets them excited about clicking into their classroom each week to see the new design

5. Remove Backgrounds!

PLEASE don’t use pictures with white squares around the outside, and teach your students the same. This tool is the same technology as the wonderful remove.bg but this has the added creativity that you can resize or even add more great effects to the image and then you could export it as a transparent image to use wherever you need.

6. Comic Books or Infographics for Summative Assessments

Let students get creative when they show off their final learning. Give them a push to improve their presentation skills by using Canva instead of slides or docs. Whilst Book Creator is still a wonderful alternative to comic books and has a more options for adding content, Canva has some great simple comic book templates with some pre loaded elements such as characters and expressions. Also students could present key information from a novel or a science topic using an infograph. There are tons of templates that can help inspire the students.

7. Data Analysis in Maths or Science

Did you know you can create simple pie charts and bar charts in Canva? Great tool for using in maths lessons, or having students present data charts in interesting ways. EVEN BETTER – link a current google sheet from your drive to your infographic and it will take the information from it and create the perfect graphic in your presentations. There is not as much flexibility for more advanced graphs – but should be enough for students to use.

8. Students Collaboration real time

This is wonderful, create a template activity – perhaps a brainstorming for a story idea – and then create a few versions, enough for one per group. Then share the links to the various templates for each group and the students work on those particular versions. Just like Google Slides of course, but in Canva. So much fun, though you still have the ‘who deleted my work!’ dilemma.

9. Class Certificates or Announcements or Videos

Make your own class certificates with the greatest of ease and also make engaging announcement messages for school social media or Seesaw announcements. If you really want to be creative, try creating a class blog and using Canva for inspiration on the blog posts. Finally, Canva has an amazing ‘present and record’ feature, allowing you to create your slide presentation, then record yourself over the top and have a link when finished to send to the community. A great way to make simple webinars!

10. Create Multimedia content for Google sites and Flipgrid and Video amongst others!

So many ideas! How about using the creative graphic design features to make your existing tools stand out. Create logos and graphics that can be used on your google sites, your video editing tools or even on Flipgrid as a sticker. Remember to choose transparent when downloading your image and you can create fun overlays to your videos on WeVideo or whatever other video editing tools you might use.

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Multimedia – Audio – Chromebook Tools – Audio Capture

As part of our Year 5 unit “Breaking News. Spread the Word” we spend time looking at how digital technology can help create different elements of Multimedia. We recently looked at audio, and whilst we could spend months on just this one topic, we tried to pullout some quick tools that would empower students to create. I shared WeVideo as our go to tool for podcasting, but I’ve also used Synth as well. I’ll share how these lessons went another time.

Below is a few tools we used and most importantly our way of being able to save and record these using Chrome Audio Capture and the fantastic digital citizenship discussions that follow.

We wanted to create some digital audio and quickly. The most fun way to do this is by using Chrome Music Lab, which is part of the growing number of Experiments by Google.

There is so much to explore here – and a really easy way to create simple audio. My favourites are the Kandinsky tool. The Voice Spinner (great for distorting voice) and the Melody Maker. Our students spend twenty minutes exploring and creating the website to get an idea of what is available.

Then there is the fabulous Plink! by Dinahmoe Labs. Your students will love this great music making tool and it is brilliant for students with educational needs. We had one of our students with CP being able to use his eyes only to make music and join in with the rest of his class.

Whilst Plink! creates a bunch of similar sounding tracks, thanks to the same beat that runs behind it, it does have another feature that the kids go mad for. Anything that can be ‘multiplayer’ always encourages enthusiasm, but here they can join each others Plink! sessions and create music together – this works well because the more users, the better the production sounds. You can either try and use the original version and jump on at the same time, or try the new Plink app, which allows you to invite people via a link to your own private session.

Dinahmoe Labs have some amazing tools for music creation and they are all super easy to use – The Rick Astley remix tool is great fun, and students love ToneCraft (for obvious reasons). I really like the Exquisite Theme music maker, which is great when discussing with students about choosing the right type of music for a project.

Recording and Saving the Music

A fantastic way to save the audio that the students create is to use the free Chrome Audio Capture extension:

It is SO EASY to use – and only records audio from the chrome tab – not the microphone – meaning you can have a full blown riot in the classroom and the recording will still just be the audio you want.

You simply click on the extension, start capture and then when finished, click to stop the capture. Then once it is loaded, click Save.

There is no editing feature, no paid features (there is a limit of 20 minutes, but for students that probably isn’t an issue) and it creates an Mp3 which you can share or add into other projects.

Digital Citizenship

A lesson on multimedia and audio then quickly descends into a fantastic opportunity to talk about copyright and fair use. Here I discussed what we can and cannot record from the internet. We talk about giving credit to DinahMoe and Google, about the wonderfully ambiguous meaning of “For educational purposes only” and what that means for us in school. I go on to talk about original content creators and how if you plan to make money then the rules change dramatically. It links so well with ISTE Standard, and is an important reflection on how we must not abuse other people’s creations and use things in an appropriate and legal way.

Further Ideas:

Use Chrome Lab to create a soundtrack to a scratch game or animation

Use for intro to a podcast

Create sound for a live performance

Learn how music affects mood and create music for different audiences, like Horror, or Comedy.

ISTE Standards covered:

2c Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

6.a. Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

6. b. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

7a Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.