Canvas provides a nifty tool to speed up your process of grading: SpeedGrader (an apt name). This tool allows you to annotate papers directly in the system instead of downloading them, marking them up, and re-uploading them into the system. You may have been using this tool since we made the switch to Canvas, or this may be completely new to you. Either way, let’s take a look at the Canvas annotation styles.
With each of these annotation styles, you can click a comment bubble on the right side of the paper to type out a note or explanation for each mark. We highly recommend you take advantage of this feature unless the mark on the document is truly self-explanatory. You wouldn’t have to add a note saying “add a comma” for a place where you manually drew in a comma.
We’re not going to talk about the technical act of making each of these marks on the paper. We’ll leave that to Canvas’ excellent documentation on the subject, “How do I add annotated comments in student submissions using SpeedGrader?” Instead, we’ll talk about potential ways to use the annotation styles on the paper and which styles are best suited to your task. There is no rule that the marks must be used in this way – these are suggestions to serve as a jumping-off point and spark ideas for how to use them to suit your needs.
Please note that the text of the sample paper will not make any sense – it’s all just coffee terminology-based filler text (aka “coffee ipsum). The important part is the examples of the kinds of annotations that you can use to fit your purposes.
1. General comments on a document section
Recommended tools: Point annotation, free draw annotation, area annotation
Recommended with reservation: Highlight annotation tool. This can easily be used for the same purpose; however, this only works well if there are no other marks you want to make on the selection. Overlapping marks can easily become confusing.
2. Comments on a single word or phrase
Recommended tools: Highlight annotation, free draw annotation, strikeout annotation
3. Insert punctuation or text
Recommended tools: Point annotation, highlight annotation, free draw annotation
4. Overall comments on a submission
Recommended tools: Point annotation, freetext annotation, free draw annotation
Note: this image contains examples of all three styles, but I typically choose one based on what space I have available at the beginning or end of a paper and stick with it. A handwritten comment done with the free draw annotation typically works best when working with a tablet and stylus.
Now that you’ve got some ideas percolating about the different ways to use these annotation tools, check out our previous post “The Four Types of Assignment Comments in SpeedGrader” for more information on those sidebar comments.
How have you been using annotations in SpeedGrader? We’d love to hear about your techniques – share them in the comments below.
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