Using Canvas Sections with CommonLit

This article is intended only for CommonLit customers with access to Canvas as a part of our School Essentials PRO package. To learn more about School Essentials PRO, please head to: https://www.commonlit.org/en/school-essentials


Canvas allows teachers to cross-list multiple sections in a course. However, LTI only allows CommonLit to import a Canvas course as one class. 

When you import a Canvas course with multiple sections into CommonLit, your Canvas grade book will still allow you to look at your data by section. However, the CommonLit data will not be divided by section.

If you want to have each Canvas section separated in CommonLit (which lets you separate your data analysis in CommonLit!), you can create CommonLit classes for each section and link their assignments back to the same Canvas course. 

Creating Section-Based Classes in CommonLit

You can create CommonLit classes to correspond with your Canvas sections manually or by importing them from Clever, ClassLink, or Google Classroom. If you import your Canvas course to CommonLit, all your students' accounts will be created and linked to Canvas, and you can have them join additional manually created classes using a class code from their My Account and Classes page. 

Note: Most Clever and ClassLink partners already have these section-based classes imported before you log in! So you can skip creating your own classes in CommonLit and link assignments in these imported classes to Canvas.

Linking Assignments in any Class to Canvas

Create an assignment or assessment in each of your CommonLit classes. If these classes link back to a shared Canvas course, you will need to create an assignment in the Canvas course for each corresponding CommonLit course. (Canvas does not allow us to link multiple CommonLit assignments to one Canvas course assignments.)

Start by creating one new assignment in Canvas, choosing Submission Type: External Tool, and clicking Find > CommonLit. 

From there, choose the first CommonLit class with an existing assignment you want to link to Canvas, then choose the assignment. When the CommonLit iframe closes, click "Select" to close the External Tool Window.

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From here, change the Assign to field to only assign to the section(s) that correspond with the CommonLit class you chose. Remove the default "Assign to: Everyone" and choose the sections to assign to. (Each CommonLit class has a unique assignment URL, and a student in section 2 on Canvas will not be able to access an assignment link for section 1's class on CommonLit.)

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Students will only see assignments assigned to their section. Teachers, however, will see all assignments created for each section.

We recommend indicating somewhere the name of the section the Canvas assignment is for. You can edit the assignment name to include the section name, or use modules or assignment groups to organize your Canvas assignments by section name. 

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Once you save and publish the assignment for your first section, repeat this process for each additional CommonLit class-section combination. 

Note: The Canvas "Copy to" feature will not work for duplicating these assignments. You can open a new tab and copy paste your directions from your first assignment into future ones to help save time.