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How do I email my class in Canvas?


Email the entire class

To email your entire class, you will use the Announcements tool.

  • Go to your class in Canvas and click on Announcements on the lefthand side.
  • Click the blue +Announcement button in the top right corner.
  • Give your announcement a title.
  • Write the body of the message in the text box below.
  • Include an attachment if you like (but the Announcements tool only allows one attachment at a time).
  • You have the option to delay posting (for example, if you want your email to go out on Monday, but you are writing it on the Friday before, this is a good option).
    • To do this, check the box beside Delay Posting.
    • Then specify when you want the email to be sent.
  • Click Save. (Unless you have delayed posting, clicking Save will send the announcement out to students, faculty, and staff who are listed in the course, including teaching assistants.)

Email specific students

To email an individual student or a group of students, you will use the Inbox tool on the far left side of Canvas (this is visible before you enter your class).

  • Click on the Inbox tool.
  • Click the pencil icon at the top center of the page.
  • Select the course the student(s) is/are taking.
  • Type the student’s name in the “to” box (it should show up there).
  • Type the subject.
  • If you want each student to receive an individual message, check the box beside that.
  • Type your email. (Note that the Inbox tool does not allow for any text editing, such as bold, italics, or underlining.)
  • If you want to send your students a video comment, you can do this by clicking on the button with the arrow in the bottom left corner of the message box. You will need to allow your browser access to the camera and microphone if you would like to do this. Click Start recording, and record your message. You can also upload a video using this tool.
  • If you would like to attach a file from your computer, you can do that using the paperclip icon.
  • Click Send. You may receive a copy of the message if your notifications are set to do this.

How do I set up a forum for student conversations?


You will not need to set up a forum—we in the Academics office will do this for you. These will be located under Discussions. We also hope to link these Discussions in Modules at a later date.

How do I create assignments?



For an essay or any other assignment that you would normally write feedback on:

  • Go to your course in Canvas, and go to Assignments.
  • If you have never built an assignment in this course, please click on the three dots next to +Assignment, and click on Assignment Groups Weight. Then check the box next to Weight final grade based on assignment groups, and click Save. You can then add assignment Groups (such as, for example, "Reflection Papers") by clicking on the gray +Groups button, typing the name of the assignment group, and including the percentage of the grade that that group takes up (e.g., 20%).
  • Click the +Assignment button in the top right corner.
    • Give your assignment a title.
    • Include instructions if applicable.
    • Specify the number of points the assignment is worth.
    • Choose the appropriate Assignment Group (e.g., Reflection papers).
    • Choose the Submission type (in this case, it will be “Online” most of the time).
      • The only time it would not be “Online” is if you are entering a participation grade or something of that sort; in that case, you would choose “No Submission.”
      • Check the box beside File Upload (this will be the case for the vast majority of assignments). If you like, you can specify the type of file that is uploaded, though this is not necessary usually.
    • If your assignment requires Peer Reviews, please check the box beside Peer Reviews, then see the instructions below under the relevant section.
    • Specify a due date for your assignment.
    • If you do not want your assignment to be indefinitely available, specify a time when you want it to begin to be available (under Available From) and when you want it to stop being available (under Until).
      • Pro tip: Make the Until date at least a few days after the due date of the assignment. This allows for extenuating circumstances and also for late assignments to be turned in.
    • If your assignment does not need to open and/or close on any specific date, you can leave the Available From and Until fields blank.
    • Click Save and Publish if you are ready for students to view it, or click Save if you want to keep making changes (just be sure to publish the assignment when you are ready for students to see it).

Quizzes and Exams

To give exams on Canvas, you will use the Quizzes page. (This may be something you want to ask your TA to help you with, if you have a TA.)

Go to the Quizzes tab, and click +Quiz at the top. Give your quiz a title and any instructions necessary. Choose an Assignment Group. If your quiz needs a time limit, type in the number of minutes needed. Choose the appropriate boxes below regarding quiz responses and correct answers and when you want these to be visible to students (the correct answers will not show up for students until after they finish the quiz if you just check the box, but if you want to specify a date, that may be a good idea, too). Choose the due date, Available From date, and Until date (see How do I enable student assignment submissions? for more information). Click Save.

To add questions to your quiz, click Questions at the top. You can add a new question by clicking +New Question. There are several question types (for more on these types, please see the Canvas Instructor Guide). Please do not publish your Quiz until you are ready (i.e., until you have everything ready for students to see it). Once it is ready, please publish your Quiz.


Canvas does have a New Quizzes feature that you can enable if you like. The institution does not have much experience with it yet, but you can use it if you like! Instructions can be found in the Canvas Instructor Guide.

How do I give feedback on an assignment? 
How do I give feedback on an assignment?
How do I give feedback on an assignment?


This can be done via SpeedGrader. To get to SpeedGrader, please go to Assignments, click on the assignment, and click SpeedGrader on the upper right side. (Alternatively, you can go to Grades, click on a box where you would normally record a grade, click the arrow that will appear, and click SpeedGrader in the box that appears on the right side of the screen.


This section covers simply leaving comments on papers; grading papers will be covered in another section.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE A COMMENT: It is a good idea to “hide” the assignment from students, (if you do not do this, a message goes out to students every time you make any sort of comment on an assignment).

To hide the assignment, from the Canvas course, click Grades, the Settings wheel on the right side, Grade Posting Policy, choose Manual, and then choose Update. This will, by default, hide all of your assignments. Then, when you’re ready to release grades to students, you can click on Grades, then the three dots next to an assignment’s title, and choose Post Grades.

To leave a comment in SpeedGrader, look at the right side of the screen, where it says Assignment Comments. You can leave a comment in a few different ways:

  • Type your comment in the box, and press Submit.
  • Attach a file by using the paperclip button, and press Submit.
  • Record a video comment by clicking the arrow (then press Submit).
  • Record an audio comment by clicking the speakerphone button (then press Submit).

How do I grade papers? 
How do I grade papers?
How do I grade papers?


To grade papers on Canvas, you will use the SpeedGrader function. To access SpeedGrader, please go to Assignments, click on the assignment, and click SpeedGrader on the upper right side. (Alternatively, you can go to Grades, click on a box where you would normally record a grade, click the arrow that will appear, and click SpeedGrader in the box that appears on the right side of the screen.)

Once you are in SpeedGrader, there are several ways to leave comments and feedback (for specifics about leaving comments, and for an important note about hiding assignments before you do any grading, please see the question above on How do I give feedback on an assignment?).


Please note that you will not see these options until a student has submitted an assignment via Canvas.

Comment bubble tool

To use this, click the button that is shaped like a hot air balloon at the top of the page. You can choose the color, if you like. Then, go to the assignment and click where you would like to make a comment. To submit your comment, press Enter.

Highlight tool

Click on the highlighter button at the top of the page. You can then highlight text you’d like to highlight, and you can also add a comment to what you have highlighted.

Text comment tool

This is the button shaped like a capital T at the top of the page. This lets you add a textbox wherever you like in order to leave a text comment for your student.

Strikethrough tool

This allows you to strike through student text. I recommend that you leave a comment for students if you do this, so they understand why you have crossed out their text.

Drawing tool

Click the paintbrush at the top of the screen. This will allow you to draw/write freehand within the document. This may work with a tablet/stylus, though you’d have to try it out with your specific tablet to see.

Area tool

This allows you to select a section of text and leave a comment on it. This tool looks like a box.

Other tutorials and resources

Here are a couple of brief videos made by Dr. Robert Kim about how to grade papers in Canvas.

Common questions about grading


What if I want instructor/TA comments to be anonymous?

This is possible! But you have to enable this setting first. To do so, go to Settings, and then Feature Options (at the top). In the list that appears, Anonymous Instructor Annotations is the fourth button from the top. Toggle the button to turn on this feature. Then, go to your specific assignment, and check the box beside “Anonymous Instructor Annotations.” Then click Save. Comments will now appear as anonymous, rather than showing your name or your TA’s name.

How do I enter a numerical grade in SpeedGrader?

You will enter the grade in a box on the righthand side of the screen, above the comments box. Be sure to click Submit to save the grade.

I remember in Sakai, I used to have to download assignments. Do I still have to do that in Canvas?

No! Thankfully, you can do all of your grading right within Canvas.

Do I need to email the papers to my students to return them?

No! Please see How do I return papers to students? for more information on that topic.

Does SpeedGrader work for Canvas Quizzes?

There is a SpeedGrader option for Canvas Quizzes, but it looks very different. Please see How do I give exams? for more information on this.

My question is not listed

Please go to the Canvas Instructor Guide to see information about SpeedGrader.

You may also email Alissa Rockney with your question.

How do I return papers to students? 
How do I return papers to students?
How do I return papers to students?


To return papers to students on Canvas, if they have been graded with SpeedGrader (see How do I grade papers?), all you need to do is release the item to the students! To do this, go to Grades in your Canvas course. Find the assignment whose grades you want to release to students, and click the three dots next to the assignment name. Go down to Post grades, and click it. Follow any prompts given. An email will go out to your students (from Canvas) that grades have been released!

How do I use a peer-review process?


Set up peer-review

  1. Click the Assignments tab on the left side of your screen.  Scroll down to find the assignment for which you want to add a peer review. Click the Edit button (with a picture of a pencil) on the top right of your screen. You will see a page of options.
  2. If the peer review will be graded, set the points under points and how you would like to display the grade.
  3. If the peer review will not be graded, make sure to set the points at 0 and display the grade as Complete/Incomplete. Click the square next to Do not count this assignment towards the final grade. You will see a checkmark in the square when it is selected.


    You must enter something in the Display Grade as section in order for the Peer Review option to appear. If you put Not Graded, the peer review will not appear as an option for you.

  4. Choose the submission type. Usually this is “online” and “file uploads.” This will allow students to upload their assignment for peers to view. Canvas will automatically make the file available to the peers you have chosen to review the assignment once the file is submitted.
  5. Under the Peer Reviews section, click the square next to Require Peer Reviews. You will see a checkmark in the square when it is selected.

Assign peer-reviews

Now that peer-review is set up for an assignment, you can customize how you assign them.


If you would like to automatically assign peer reviews, Canvas can do this for you. You should click the automatically assign peer reviews option. You will not want this option if you would like to separate groups by time zone or according to other pre-assigned or student-selected groups. Also, Canvas does not seem to recognize which students are auditors, so if you have auditors, this option would assign them peer reviews.


If you would like to manually assign peer reviews either to groups you have selected or to groups the students have self-selected and informed you about, click the manually assign peer reviews option.

Assign Peer-Reviews
  1. In the Assign section of your assignment editing options, make sure Everyone is selected and set the due date for the day the DRAFT is due.  Students will submit their draft on this assignment and then review the assignments of peers after this date.
  2. Click Save at the very bottom of your screen.
  3. After you have saved the editing you did for the assignment, the next screen that appears shows the assignment directions as saved.  Now, you should see on the very right side of your screen a list of Related Items. One of these items should say Peer Reviews in bold. Click on Peer Reviews to set the groups for the peer reviews.
  4. If you chose to automatically assign peer reviews, on the right side of your screen, you will see Automatically Assign Reviews and a box with the number “0” reviews per user.  In this box, enter the number of reviews you want each student to complete. Then, click Assign Peer Reviews.
  5. If you chose to manually assign peer reviews according to student-selected or teacher-selected groups, you will need a list of these groups.  If groups have previously been set up for this course in your People tab, you may want to print out a list of groups from this tab (see below).

To assign the peer reviews, you will see the blue words, Give __STUDENT NAME__ another submission to assess+. Click these words. A tab that says [Select Student] will appear. Click the tab to scroll down through the list of students.  Find the student whose work you would like this student to review, and click add. The name of the student whose work they will review should appear under their name. Add any additional reviews this way. Then, do the same for each student.


Auditors will also appear on this list, so you will want to be aware of which students they are so they do not receive review assignments.

 When you have entered reviews for each student, click the grey box Assign Peer Reviews on the right of your screen. The review assignments are complete! Click Back to Assignment or another tab to exit.

What happens after peer-reviews are assigned?
  1. Students will submit their drafts.
  2. The drafts will automatically become available to their assigned peers. They can find these under the assignments tab when they click on the draft assignment. The drafts will be available to view or download. Their assigned peer drafts will also appear on their Dashboard on their home screen to-do list. They should click their classmate’s name which appears in blue.  A page will open which will allow them to view or download their classmate’s assignment and comment. 
  3. On the right side of the screen, they will see Add a Comment and a text box under that. They may add one or more comments here and click Save. They may also attach a file of their comments by clicking the blue Attach File option underneath Add a Comment.
  4. Once at least one comment is added, this will be shared automatically with their peer, and the review assignment will show as completed.
  5. The student will need to repeat this process for the work of each assigned peer.


It may be helpful to create a separate Assignment with no submissions or grade with the due date for the Review. This will remind the students to complete the reviews by the due date and will appear on their Dashboard and to-do list as a reminder. Otherwise, they will receive a reminder only of the draft due date but not of the review due date.

Printing Peer-Review Groups

On the left side of your screen, you will see the tab People. Click this.   Then, look toward the top middle of your screen and click the tab next to Everyone that says either Groups or Project Groups. You should be able to see your groups.  If you see only group names with no student names under them, click the small triangle to the left of each group name, and the student names will appear. To print, right click any white space on the page with your mouse and select print.

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