This year, I am doing something a little different for homework. Since I teach at an IB school, we have 6-week transdisciplinary units that address a wide range of content, skills, and knowledge. For homework, I have created 5-week, open-ended assignments that allow students to dive deeper into something we are learning about in the classroom.
Our current unit is about economics, and one of our main topics is budgeting. For homework, I found an assignment online called The Million Dollar Project. In this project, students have $1,000,000 to spend; there are certain things they have to buy (house, car), but there is also leeway for them to buy things they want. Students have to keep track of their spending in a budget. I thought this would be a fun and engaging way for students to practice budgeting, and it would allow them to realize the real costs of things and figure out their purchasing priorities. I reworked it a little to fit my own needs, and my students have loved it!
I like to give my students choices with their homework (The Million Dollar Project was one of three choices for this unit’s homework, but every student chose to do it), including how they present their information. I offer paper-and-pencil options as well as tech-based options because I know some students are more comfortable with technology than others (I work at an affluent private school, so access to technology is not an issue). Since my school is relatively new, we don’t have a lot of technology resources, so I like to introduce new tech tools to my students through their homework assignments. Usually enough students use the tools on their homework that they can teach their classmates about it if we use the tool in class.
One of the presentation choices for the Million Dollar Project was to make a brochure. I was looking for a tech-based option, and I discovered Canva. Canva is a design platform that allows users to make presentations, posters, brochures, cards, letters, social media posts, resumes, and certificates (to name a few). There are templates you can use or you can create your own. The site requires a login, but there are free and paid accounts (I have the free account). It is easy to use, and the final product looks very professional.
In an effort to “eat my own dogfood” (a phrase that I learned from one of my favorite podcasters, Jennifer Gonzalez), I made my own Million Dollar Project brochure. Here is what one of the pages looks like:
You can see the entire project here: how-i-would-spend-one-million-dollars.
I like Canva because it has all of the features that I want–I can upload pictures, choose my own font, move things around on the product–and the final product looks beautiful. I also like how many different things you can make on their site; as a teacher, I like finding sites that do many things because then I can use them in many different situations.
I can see students using this site to make really polished-looking products for projects, both at home and at school. They could make visual representations of vocabulary words. They could make an infographic to share content knowledge they have learned. They could make a presentation without having to use PowerPoint (!). They could make a poster about a person they studied (without having to store huge posters in the classroom!). They could make an advertisement for an invention or business they created. There are so many different ways students could use Canva. Unfortunately, it does require a login, so students will need email addresses (and parental permission if your students are under the age of 13). This is part of the reason why I introduce these tools for homework, so families can talk about what online tools they are comfortable having their children use. I always log on and play around on the site before recommending it to my students, and this site is a keeper for all of your project needs.
Want a tutorial on how to use Canva? Check out my video tutorial to watch me walk my students (and you) through using Canva.