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Announcing Gradeable and Teach for America iPad Mini Contest Winners

TFAleaderboard2We’re excited to announce the winners of our iPad Mini contest with Teach for America Corps Members and alum. Gradeable and Teach for America (TFA) established a partnership in April to bring innovative learning tools to classrooms. TFA is an educational organization that finds, trains, and supports top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools. The TFA network includes 11,200 corps members in 48 regions across the country, with more than 32,000 alumni working in education and many other sectors to create systemic change that will impact educational inequity.

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Over a period of 24 weeks, corps members were tasked to engage with Gradeable and act on data analytics gained from everyday quizzes to help personalize students’ learning.  Winners of the contest are: Esther Kim, Houston ‘12; Amy Wagoner, Kansas City ‘13; Nyamagaga Gondwe, Delaware ‘13; Aidan Loeser, New York ‘12. With over 31 regions entered, there was significant participation in the Atlanta, Mississippi, Houston and New York regions. The iPad Minis were made available as a prize through the generous donation from an anonymous Gradeable investor.

We had:

  • Pre-K teachers assessing letter recognition
  • High school Spanish teachers testing fluency
  • Middle school Science teachers evaluating lab reports

“I think this program is really great.  Currently, I use another product and my biggest complaint is that I could never give the kids anything tangible back and I could only do multiple choice questions.  Gradeable allows me to integrate both,” Chelsea Miller, Memphis ‘13.

Looking to bring faster grading and personalized insights into your classroom?

CTA

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Introducing Gradeable Projects: Manage and Grade Projects through Gradeable’s Brand New Project-Based Learning Tool

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We were not satisfied with just making your grading go faster.  We weren’t even satisfied with giving teachers invaluable insights into your students’ thinking.  We wanted to give teachers more options to understand and engage students, and to that end, we are happy to announce our newest tool, Gradeable Projects. It is the perfect addition to starting and managing project-based learning in your classroom.

Gradeable Projects enables teachers to seamlessly integrate inquiry-based learning and measure standards and learning in a project format.  Project-based learning (PBL) has shown increased student engagement and motivation by encouraging students to constantly ask questions and re-evaluate what they have learned.  Research shows many important benefits of PBL: including higher student engagement, more self-reliance among students, better attendance, and a possible tool to close the achievement gap by engaging diverse students at all levels of achievement.  Check out this helpful compilation of research provided by the Buck Institute if you are interested in learning more.

How to get started with Gradeable Projects

Simply open up your Gradeable dashboard – and alongside, select a recent (or your favorite) project.  Click to create a “New Project.” (ProTip: Looking to create Gradeable’s original assessments? Just click on quiz/worksheet!)

selectproject_dashboard

accessprojects_dashboardThis is your project creation page. You can modify the name, description, tagged Common Core standards, and classes here. Most importantly, you can create your project rubric which is important to maintain the rigor of your students’ projects. To create your rubric, you can copy and paste an existing rubric or use a free online tool like Rubistar to identify the correct language and criteria. You can adjust point levels up to 100.  The beauty of our rubric setup is that Gradeable will total up all of your project points at the end, when you’re done with evaluating students.

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rubrics

After you’ve filled it out, you will be taken to your main project page. This is where you can add in different components (essays, lab write ups, posters, video, etc), print feedback you’ve left for students, and most importantly, view and grade student work.

mainpblpageOn this page, you can sort your view by components:

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Or sort by student:

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To add different components, click on Evidence Based. It will take you to your evidence creation page. Remember that evidence can be any part of your project that you would like to assess students on. The component will not show up on your main project page until you upload student work into that component. Don’t forget to add to your rubric if you add more components.

createevidenceTo upload student work, you can either 1) go to your main project page and click on Upload Evidence or 2) go to your dashboard and click on Upload. On this page, you will see that you can upload two types of documents: 1) Worksheets—these are your completed Gradeable quizzes and assessments or 2) Evidence—this is specifically for your student project components. After selecting the files to upload, don’t forget to click Submit.

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After the progress bar is finished, you will see your files populating the bottom field. Select which files you would like to organize first and fill in the correct fields on the right-side form. Save project.

Example: Upload all your project files but select only research papers. Navigate to the drop down menu and select the Research Paper component you created. Assign the work to the correct students.

uploadproject_2

When you’re ready to grade your components (and you can save and grade later as well!), navigate back to your main project page. Click on any image in the component you’d like to start in. This is your grading panel and where you will see a picture of the student work as well as the corresponding rubric. The rubric will stay with the same student throughout all the components. Quickly scroll through student work by going left or right.

gradeevidenceTo grade using the rubric, find the correct component/criterion and click on the proficiency level. Gradeable will automatically total up the scores at the end of the project.

evidencerubricIf you choose to add comments, all feedback and rubrics can be printed out for students via your main project page.  Managing and grading projects never was so easy!  Now you can truly Grade Everything.  Are you as excited about PBL as we are?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

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4 Common Grading Problems, Solved by Gradeable

As teachers, these grading problems have withstood the test through time and are things all teachers can relate to, from first year to tenth year. Gradeable offers solutions that teachers can use to solve the following 4 common problems we all would love to get rid of!

portfolioss#1: “My students keep losing their assessments!”

As teachers, we know the feeling of handing a paper back and having the student lose said paper—in minutes. Scanning in all student papers through Gradeable ensures that every single paper will be accounted for in their individual digital portfolios. With no manual sorting or paper organization system required on your part, it’s easy to pull up assignments, quizzes, and projects in one click for easy parent conferences and meetings with students.

SS5#2: “It’s hard for me to identify where my students need help.”

Just by looking at our students, teachers already know if their students “get it.” But sometimes, even your super spidey teacher senses cannot be sure why students didn’t do well on a test despite your well-thought lesson plans and remediation. The data break downs created after grading will layout a clear, evidence-backed picture of exactly which questions and problems students struggle with. All data break downs come with beautifully visualized graphs and charts that make it easy to present aggregated data at Professional Development or staff meetings— or even to your classes! Students love to know their own data.

Watch and listen to how Colin, a Gradeable super user, uses Gradeable to pinpoint exact learning gaps.

blog_commentbank#3: “I’m unable to give deeper feedback.”

Feedback is absolutely essential to student growth— teachers already know that and students look for these comments. However, time doesn’t always allow teachers to give in-depth feedback in a timely manner. The comment bank in the Gradeable grading panel allows teachers to type in feedback (so it’s completely legible!) and even keeps common comments to be easily dropped onto the students’ paper instead of rewriting it—35 times.

Watch and learn how Debbie, a high school math teacher uses Gradeable’s efficiency to give better feedback and cut down on the paper load.

SS4#4: “I don’t know how to link current lessons to the Common Core.”

Planning for Common Core lessons will already be a large task. Gradeable makes one of those parts easier by ensuring that you’re tracking students’ progress by each Common Core standard so you can celebrate mastery and move on or reteach missed standards with laser-like focus.

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Beyond the Red Pen: Meet Cynthia, High School Chemistry

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Meet Cynthia, a high school chemistry teacher for Los Angeles. Her favorite teaching accessory is Google Drive (have you ever accidentally saved something?), she stays healthy and hydrated with Korean pears, and how Standards Based Grading elevated her classroom.

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What is your current location?
Los Angeles, California

What subject and grade (s) do you teach?
11th grade Chemistry

What is your favorite teaching accessory?
Google Drive. I can easily restore an old version of a file if I accidentally saved over it!

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“I saw everything on Google Drive so I can see my activity (what got deleted, what I added) I could share with other chem folk and I can easily search if I want to find a specific PowerPoint or worksheet.

Tips and tricks on making the best “teacher lunch?”
Always pack fruit to quench a dry throat. My favorite fruit is Korean pears.

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"I label each bin according to their period. Students automatically turn in the papers into the designated bin."

“I label each bin according to their period. Students automatically turn in the papers into the designated bin.”

What’s your super grading secret?
I have my students grade their assessments right after they take the exam. They know immediately how well they did and which standards to improve on. To keep student accountability, students must fill out a Scantron and the exam sheet. They hand in the Scanton before we start grading so I have their raw answers.

(Editor’s Note: Gradeable is a perfect solution to quickly grade and analyze student results for a faster turnaround time!)

What’s your favorite time to grade and why?
Right after students take the assessments. Students want to know how their assessment affects their grades as soon as possible. I need their assessment data to inform me how to approach the next few lessons. It is a win-win situation.

What is your must have grading tool/utensil?
Snacks (Trader Joe’s White Cheddar Popcorn), Paper Mate Flair, Paper Mate Ink Joy

How do you find grading “zen?”
With other teachers and no students!

What is your super secret tip to grade faster that you wish all teachers knew?
My district uses Data Director, a Scantron scanning system, and quickly grades multiple choice. Whatever technology is available to your school or district, use it your advantage!

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How do you get to know your students?
There are some get to know you activities at the beginning of the year but I really get to know them when I ask them individual questions during conversations in the hall way, before class, and after school. I also get to know students by listening into their conversations.

What is one strategy that has worked to increase student motivation?
Switching to standards based grading. Students can easily track their progress. It is easier to articulate what they don’t understand if the standards are split up. In a student’s perspective, it is so hard to understand why they received a low grade on Quiz 2. What exactly was tested on Quiz 2?

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“Students retake the same standard multiple times and the scores are recorded so students can track their progress. For example standard 4.7 was tested in 2 quizzes (green) and 2 tests (purple). The first student on there scores 2/4 during the first quiz and first test but by the second quiz and second test, the student got a 4/4.”

What is the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?
Do not grade everything. Only grade items that show individual mastery. Give feedback to other items that lead up to individual mastery but you don’t have to input into the grade book.

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Do you have specific teaching shoes? If so, what are they?
Skecher Shape Ups. They look ridiculous but my feet are not sore at the end of the day!

What’s the last thing you bought for your classroom?
Lamination for my students’ photos I post in class. My students work in groups every day. I take pictures of them working together to build the classroom culture.

How can Gradeable empower your beyond the Red Pen? Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself: www.gradeable.com/sign_up

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ProTip Wednesday: Reflection Questions to Fine-Tune Your Teaching

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As part of our “Summer of Reflection,” we want to make sure that you’re asking the best questions that will move your instruction to a higher level. So far, we’ve gathered and organized, now let’s deeply analyze the materials and ask the hard questions to ourselves. Feel free to use questions that best fit your teaching situation or even create a matrix of questions and responses to better organize your data. Or just simply print this list out and sit with colleagues to talk it out. Happy reflecting!

Teaching


  • What resources did you use this year? Which were especially helpful and that you would use again?
  • In what ways have you gotten better in teaching this subject? In what ways do you need to improve?
  • Which parts of your teaching or the results were deeply satisfying and why?
  • What were your goals? Did you meet your goals or how did your goals change during the year?
  • What did this past year reveal about you as a teacher?
  • What did you learn about yourself as you taught this year?
  • Compare and contrast a project or lesson done at the beginning of the year versus at the end of the year.
  • Did you teach your lessons and conduct your classroom the same way other teachers do? If not, what did you do differently?
  • If you were your own teacher, what comments would you give yourself?
  • What caused you the most stress this year? How did you solve it?
  • When was a time that you felt the most joy or inspiration during this year?

(via Edutopia)

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Unit and Lesson Plans


  • Did this unit’s lesson address the topic?
  • Was there enough scaffolding and prior knowledge engaged?
  • Where does the unit fit in the long term plan?
  • Did you follow best practices and address the standards?
  • What kind of background knowledge and skills did students bring this year? Did you engage in instructional strategies that met their needs?
  • Do you see patterns in your teaching style, like replying rapidly after a student question?

(via Peter Pappas)

Students

  • What do you hope your students remember your best as a teacher?
  • What was the biggest mistake you made with them this year? How can you avoid making that mistake next year?
  • What is something you did this year that went better than expected?
  • Who was your most challenging student and why?
  • In what ways did you change the lives of your students this year?

(via Minds in Bloom)

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A/B Testing Your Classroom for Student Achievement

MjAxMi0zMDUyZmIwYjBkNDUyNDg3Teacher Pinterest boards are filled with innovative, new classroom ideas. “Oh, awesome lab for teaching the water cycle.” “Oooh, I like this classroom motivation strategy!” We Pin and bookmark with the intention of elevating lesson plans that will reach a level of engagement and learning all teachers strive for. But are we truly experimenting in a meaningful, purposeful way?

The relationship between teaching and digital marketing

In digital marketing, there is something called A/B testing. It’s a strategy (or experiment) where just one variable is changed in digital content. Red button versus a blue button, large font versus small font. The idea is to continue to experiment with little tweaks to see which garners the greatest returns, i.e. click rate in emails. As a former teacher and now a student of digital marketing, I know that teachers already do A/B testing, even if it’s not explicit. You might start with a Think-Pair-Share instead of your Do Now between first and second period iterations, or you might pass out scissors before passing out construction paper between yesterday’s and today’s iterations. Which decision had the greatest classroom workflow or student thinking? You’ve just A/B tested your lesson plan.

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Image via Six Nutrition

Now that it’s summer, it’s time to go to the next stage of A/B testing and that is evaluating, “grading,” and iterating. Teachers know first and foremost what works and what doesn’t work, but do you truly know? Is it backed up by evidence of student work and with identifiable patterns? Our teaching should be laser-like and precise, but it cannot be that way without hard-won evidence. Let’s do a deep dive:

1. Evaluating gives you a map of where you need to go

After you gathered and organized your evidence, it’s time to study your past work, just as you ask your students to do, and ascertain its success. Did the students “get it?” What was the response level? The purpose of evaluating is not only to prove the lesson’s success level, but to also give you cold, hard evidence of what did not work. Nominet Trust provides 10 reasons why you should start evaluating: evaluating gives you insights into unexpected outcomes for more variables in future “A/B tests.” And most importantly, if it is working, you can know why it did work. You are then better prepared to show the value of your experimentation to your colleagues and administrators.

Image via Mappio

Image via Mappio

2. Grading yourself

Lifehacker quotes one teacher that graded herself by asking, “How many kids am I steering in the right direction?” Grading your teaching might be in the form of how many “got it” or what kind of lessons were created. You’ve graded yourself on college course evaluations where the professor asked you to grade your own participation— and you were always stumped, probably giving yourself a lower grade than deserved. We’re our own greatest enemy, but when you ask yourself the right questions, you can give yourself a truly authentic grade that measures the value of your work. The data you gain from this grading exercise will be helpful for the final step in A/B testing your classroom.

Image via Soda Head

Image via Soda Head

3. Iterate, iterate, iterate

I hear this word a lot in the digital marketing world, but it’s also a word I didn’t hear much about when I was a teacher. However, as with all of the previously mentioned topics, teachers already do this! First we’ll evaluate our work, then we’ll grade ourselves. The next step was always to make little changes in the next experiment and see what the results are for that with the whole process starting over again. A/B test your lesson plans! Maybe in a scientific method lesson plan, you taught the fundamentals of graphing before the lesson to mediocre success. In this next iteration, you can teach the graphing lesson within the scientific lesson plan so that students can better contextualize it.

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Evaluate. Grade. Iterate. It takes a great teacher to be able to look at their past work, student work, and ideas and give an objective evaluation and grade, but in the end, it is all part of the journey of fine-tuning our craft to become the best teachers we can be.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a ProTip that will help take this first step further— by asking the right questions.

Want to teach your students how to evaluate, grade, and iterate their learnings? Sign up for Gradeable and learn more!

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ProTip Wednesday: 7 Things to Toss When Decluttering Your Classroom

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The largest dilemma I had at the end of the year was not my impending summer plans, but whether I should keep the Valentine’s Day teddy bear or #1 Teacher mug from students. Or how my set of emergency beakers for on-the-fly demos suddenly grew to 20 beakers (and growing…). We now know what to keep—so what should we toss?

To Toss: (May be most helpful with good music and a friend)

1. If it looks like it went through battle

Markers, crayons, colored pencils, construction paper, binders—if it looks like a truck ran it over twice, then it’s probably best to throw it out. (via Responsive Classroom)

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2. Things with missing parts

Board games, lab equipment, math activities, books — if the reason it’s missing a part is due to your class size, be sure to put that into the “donate” pile for a teacher who has different class sizes than yours. (via Responsive Classroom)

Image via Learning Things

Image via Learning Things

3. Unread books

I brought in my entire childhood library when I started teaching, but unfortunately, some of my middle schoolers didn’t share the same enthusiasm for them as I did. You can pass on those books to another teacher or donation center to clear out the way for books with greater circulation. (Cue: tears) (via Responsive Classroom)

Image via New York Times

Image via New York Times

4. If it can be found online

I’m all for binders and paper resources because I’m still attached to my highlighter and pen. However, if it can be digitized or stored online, then it’s a good time to transition into online storage.

Gradeable is incredibly helpful in helping you transition to a paperless classroom and storing paper assignments online easily – just scan and it’s saved!

Image via McKay Alumni

Image via McKay Alumni

5. Things that do not fit into conventional student storage

You know those extra bendable rulers or emergency name tags you keep for the “one day” situations— just toss it. According to Liam at Teaching with a Twist of Liam, if it doesn’t fit into a student’s pencil box, tool box, or a back pack, then it’s not necessary to keep.

6. The growing pile of student gifts

Although my collection of stuffed animals has grown since teaching, I realized that they were starting to take over bed space, shelf space, and overall home space. But we all remember who gave it to us and what it meant so it’s a hard decision to toss these sentimental items— then again, the #1 Teacher mug can’t live forever on your desk. (via Teaching with a Twist of Liam)

Image via Travelasaurus

Image via Travelasaurus

7. Things that were not touched in 2 years

I think I still have a life-sized Christmas stocking from Student Council days (Are my StuCo advisors out there? You feel the pain of hoarding resources.), but I haven’t touched it recently. Anything that falls under this category should be soundly tossed.

Don’t forget that there is some first year teacher out there that would love your old things, especially if you transitioned grade levels. Other donation options include:

  • local day care centers
  • after-school programs
  • homeless shelters
  • Goodwill