Using Canvas With Your Student

Canvas Podcast Overview


Canvas is West Des Moines Community Schools’ official learning management system. A learning management system is a software that helps provide, track, and report on classes and assignments.  Canvas provides parents and students with greater access to their curriculum and learning by housing important student curricular expectations and information. This could include their online textbook, links to resources, homework, videos, assessments, online discussions, and so much more.

Canvas FAQ

Why Canvas?

In 2016, West Des Moines Community Schools recognized the need for a central location to support student learning. The following year, Canvas became our official learning management system (LMS). This was an exciting action for our district, providing many opportunities to support 21st century skills.  A learning management system is a software that helps provide, track, and report on classes and assignments.  Canvas provides parents and students with greater access to their curriculum and learning by housing important student curricular expectations and information. This could include their online textbook, links to resources, homework, videos, assessments, online discussions, and so much more.

How is Canvas used in elementary versus secondary schools?

There are varying uses of this integration tool from elementary and secondary related to content and courses. In addition, Canvas is utilized to develop WDMCS online and blended courses. More colleges are moving toward implementation of a learning management system. For example, both Iowa State University and the University of Iowa use Canvas for all their students in face to face and online courses. Our WDMCS students will be prepared for these future opportunities.

WDMCS made the decision to utilize the many capabilities of the Canvas gradebook this school year for 7th-12 grade, providing a platform for students to submit their work, access important resources, receive feedback, communicate with teachers, collaborate with peers, and take more ownership of their learning. Infinite Campus is a Student Information System (SIS), required for state reporting and still an important tool within the system. Therefore, official letter grades will continue to be reported in Infinite Campus.
Students and parents are highly encouraged to access Canvas regularly for important information related to student learning and progress.


How do families access Canvas to observe their learner’s progress?

Create an account using a Student Pairing Code obtained from your student. Once you’ve created an account and logged in, you will have access to the Dashboard and grade books.

Get the Full Instructions: Create a Canvas Parent Account

Cómo Configurar su Cuenta de Padre Observador para Canvas

How can I see a quick view of my student’s grades?

Once logged into Canvas, click the “View Grades” button on the right side of the Dashboard. You will be able to see a quick view of your student’s grades by percentage (not letter grade) for all current courses.

View Screenshot

Is there a smartphone app for Canvas?

You can download the Canvas app for iPhone or Android devices. To download the free app, go to Google Play or the App Store on your phone and look up “Canvas Parent.” The parent icon is a blue set of circles. A separate “Canvas Student” app is available for download. The student icon is a red set of circles.

Will I get notifications related to missing assignments, grades, etc.?

Notification settings are managed under the Account tab in Canvas. Parents can determine the frequency of notifications, including immediate notification, daily, weekly, or no notices based on the type of information posted. Status of assignments can be looked up in the individual course listing under grades -> assignments.

I’m a WDMCS employee; why won’t my district email let me create a parent/observer account?

If you are a WDMCS employee as well as a WDMCS parent, you will not be able to use your district-issued single sign-on process. You will need to use your personal email account to log into Canvas as a parent observer.

Where can I see my student’s grades?

All secondary teachers are using Canvas to track grades. Elementary grades are currently tracked in Infinite Campus.

Secondary teachers use Canvas to store digital resources and assignments.

Where will letter grades be reported?

All official letter grades will continue to be reported at the end of each term in Infinite Campus for grades 7-12. Infinite Campus is required for state reporting. It helps the district manage student information, attendance, and enrollments.

Does this mean Infinite Campus is going away?

Infinite Campus is a Student Information System (SIS), required for state reporting and still an important tool within the system. All official letter grades will continue to be reported in Infinite Campus at the end of each term but daily assignments and other grades will no longer be posted.

Watch: Managing Your Parent Account in Canvas