The Art of Mom Hacking

How To Use Canvas To Manage Family Scripture Study

When all 3 of my older children began homeschooling, only the oldest was able to go to my school of choice because the courses weren’t offered to students below 6th grade. To make sure my other children were on track, I chose to enroll them in a school that fed into the one I want for them later on.

The 8th grade courses are designed with video lectures, interactive lessons and are well managed for online delivery using a tool called Canvas. Everything is organized and provided through the popular Canvas Learning Management System. Each day, she logs in and clicks on her first task for the day. Rinse and repeat. It’s that simple.

The 5th grade courses, however, are a more traditional approach to homeschooling. All of the tools are paid for with the state funding, but it’s up to me to choose what we use, how and when it’s delivered and ensure that they are studying appropriate topics to meet state standards. No pressure. The kids were not fans. They felt unsure of what to do, even when I told them each item in order.  They just needed the comfort of checking off the list.

So I signed up for a free teacher’s account on Canvas.  I wanted to recreate the format of my oldest daughter’s online school.

It turned out to be incredibly easy to create a course, design modules and collect content.  In a couple of hours, I had fully collected 2 weeks worth of material for them to click through each day with ebooks, web pages, games, videos and everything in between.

That’s when I realized that this was exactly the tool I needed to automate my new plan for family scripture study.

We try to meet every morning as a family to read from the scriptures each day, discuss the bits we’ve read and come together more as a family.  It doesn’t always happen that way, though.  We either miss it altogether, or I haven’t chosen a good lesson plan, or someone isn’t in the mood for discussion.  Plus, I have yet to give a journaling assignment that – a. everyone actually did – and b. I remembered every time to review their words.

We’re converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, so we’re still getting the hang of all this.

With the new Come Follow Me study plan provided by the church, the lesson planning part was already solved.  Now I just needed to organize it and create a platform for discussion.  I love the idea of discussion board prompts.  Everyone can spend time reflecting before they post an answer and it can be done at anytime, so if someone can’t make it to our family meetup they can still participate.  The church also seems to heavily promote the practice of journaling, which I absolutely love.  I enjoy writing (obviously, haha) and I like having something to reflect back on later.  The kids are somewhat less enthusiastic.  It’s mostly because they’ll start journaling in one place, lose the materials and always have a difficult time making a habit out of the process.  My husband simply dislikes the effort, but reluctantly participates if I ask and make the process easy.

The discussion boards dissolve these journaling hangups by providing an interactive environment with no pressure.  Short answers are fine and repeated entries are more than welcome.  It offers more depth of reflection and can lead to fringe topics that might have otherwise been missed.  My husband enjoys teaching the kids more than personal journaling, so he is less turned off by this method, as well.

Here’s how to get started.

Create a free Canvas Teacher Account.

 

Access the Come Follow Me 2019 curriculum for individuals and families.

In Canvas, navigate to Courses on the left menu and then choose All Courses.

Click the + Course to create your new course and give it a name.

Now that you’ve created the course, you’re free to add whatever content you like.  Usually, I will create a Module titled after the dates of the week we’ll be working on.  I’ll then split the material into 6 days of assignments and give them a corresponding due date throughout the week.  On Saturday’s I will create an assignment for the Family Study portion of the lesson and a Discussion with instructions for the reflection.

With just a few minutes of work, you’ll have a course that your entire family can work through, share thoughts and messages, and a place to quickly access the resources they need.  The resulting course pages will look something like this.

 

In order to tie things together with our face-to-face family study, I will encourage everyone to post before an afternoon family meeting.  Additionally, we try to spend 15 minutes each morning reviewing scripture from the Book of Mormon, so if your family is practicing calendaring you may want to take advantage of the Conference features.

There are a myriad of ways to incorporate different types of media.  As your family becomes familiar with using this tool, you may want to start linking to relevant talks from General Conference or creating a discussion around the topic from Sacrament last week.

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