Create a Reading Journal in Canvas
curry mitchell

In my English composition classes, I really, really hope to promote reading as an essential step in the writing process. Since I started teaching, I’ve relied on low-stakes writing assignments–journaling, in-class writing, annotations, etc–to promote mindful reading habits linked to larger writerly tasks. When I started teaching online, I simply adopted a digital journal inside the LMS, that is, until we switched to Canvas, which does not have a journal tool. Time once again to bend Canvas to my pedagogical will.

In this video I share two approaches that provide students with a space to explore texts and experiment with ways to value the act of reading; space that also provides me an opportunity to intervene, celebrate, and nudge students as their develop their own unique reading process.

Here’s a guide for how to highjack Canvas’ Discussion tool to create a reading journal:

1. Navigate to the People tab and create a new Group Set

2. Title the Group Set, select the “I’ll create groups manually option,” and click Save.

3. Find the tab for the group you just created and then click the +Group button. Create a group for every student in your course. Once you have a group for each student, drag their name into their group. This may take a little while…

When your students log in, they will see they have access to a link under Course Groups. When they click on this link, they will have access to their own space in your Canvas course where they can upload files, create pages, etc.

Here’s what that looks like on a desktop

Here’s the view using Canvas’ mobile app

I find it a little hard to find everything students include in this space, so to make things a little more simple, I create a Discussion board and set it up as a group assignment.

I place the link to this discussion on the home page, and when students click into the discussion, they only have access to their own contributions.

Once they access the Discussion link, they simply click the “Reply” button and add their latest journal notes and reflections. This space becomes a repository for their ideas throughout the semester. Check out minute 2:06 in the video above for what this journal-discussion-Canvas-thing looks like for students.

2 thoughts on “Create a Reading Journal in Canvas
curry mitchell

  1. curry,

    I was afraid to start using Collaborations for the summer. I think in part to the fear of “What happens if one of more students in the Collaboration decide to drop the course? I plan on using this in the final two weeks of my course with poetry books students chose for the summer. Thank you for reducing my anxiety and providing clear directions on how to make it work.

    Prescot

  2. I will be adapting both of these approaches to my ENGL 52 as their primary assignments to reinforce what they are learning, and as you say, what they value in their learning. I will use the Note-Taking Discussion for my ENGL 100. I hope I can figure out the logistics. With your video and screencasts, curry, I should be good to go. I’ll let you know how it works out next semester! Thank you.

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