MAT Blog

GradeCam: The Closest Thing to a Paper-Grading Fairy You’ll Ever Find

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 15, 2013 4:28:00 PM

paper gradingHow much would you pay for a paper-grading fairy? You know, a little winged pixie that would appear on your shoulder at the end of the week, sprinkle some magic dust on your file folder and transform everything inside into graded tests.

GradeCam is the closest thing to a paper-grading fairy we’ve come across and surprisingly, you won’t have to break the bank to use the app’s magic dust. It's free!

In a nutshell, GradeCam is an intuitive interface that allows educators to grade multiple-choice assignments with any web or document camera.

Using GradeCam’s online form generator, you print answer sheets on plain paper using any printer. After students complete the tests, simply snap a photo with your web or document camera and GradCam will evaluate and automatically enter the scores into your grade book!

In addition to this, GradeCam features a Student View feature that allows students to bring their test up to the computer and scan their own assignment, giving them immediate feedback.

GradeCam is free with limited features, but you can choose from two other pricing plans if you need more options.



15 Classroom Management Apps for Educators



Tags: evaluate student performance, paper grading, Best Apps for Educators, Assessment

Going Paperless: Podcasting your Students' Progress Reports

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Feb 19, 2013 2:01:00 PM

student progress reportsAs you know, students aren’t always the most reliable couriers. Sometimes “Friday” folders come back with a parent’s signature, sometimes not. Sometimes the progress reports were delivered; sometimes they were insert excuse here. On the whole, folders are a useful organizational tool; they’re also nice for strengthening lines of communication between you and parents. But we happen to think there’s a more efficient way to keep parents up to date on their child’s progress—one that might actually cut down on your paperwork and guarantee that your messages will be delivered.

Using Voxie Pro to Record Student Progress Reportsstudent progress reports 2
In lieu of a weekly evaluation or progress note for every student, what if you were to spend a measly $4.99 on Voxie Pro (bottle rocket), an app that allows you to record CD-quality audio files to your phone and email them directly to parents?

Your messages can be as long as you need, but 60 to 90 seconds should be more than enough time for you to:

  • State the student’s name along with the date
  • Briefly describe student progress, both socially and academically, over the last week
  • Offer suggestions for how the student can improve
  • Ask parents questions about the student and request that they call or email you answers

What’s wrong with handwritten progress reports?
Besides the fact that they’re so commonly “lost" or "eaten” by insert animal/person/thing here, there’s also the fact that many teachers have resorted to turning evaluations into vague checklists they can work through quickly.

But can we really boil our students’ progress, both socially and academically, down to “Outstanding,” “Satisfactory,” or “Needs Improvement?” We think not. On top of this, checklists offer little opportunity to share your personality or offer substantive feedback. Podcasting gives parents the opportunity to actually hear you. In fact, they can even create their own podcasts and email them back to you.

Podcasting your students’ progress reports is only one way to “digitally enhance” communication between you and your students’ parents. If you’re looking for other ideas, you might check out one of our recent blogs, 5 More Indispensable Classroom Management Apps. Pay specific attention to an app called Remind 101. We think you’ll find it useful. 


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Tags: parent partnerships, evaluate student performance, progress reports, Parent Engagement

Quickwrites are a Great Instruction and Assessment Tool.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Oct 27, 2011 12:28:00 PM

Marygrove MAT shows how teachers use quickwrites as a formative assessment. One of the best strategies for developing writing fluency and reading comprehension skills is the Quickwrite. Also called entry or exit slips, these formative assessments allow students to respond to a text question in an open format. Formative assessments are generally conducted throughout a unit to measure progress and evaluate student performance. Quickwrites are an excellent way for teachers to verify what a student is learning, and tailor their instruction accordingly.

One way to do this is called “the muddiest point,” where students write a quickwrite explaining what they don’t understand from that day’s lesson.

There are many ways to execute a quickwrite, but usually teachers provide an open-ended question on a slip of paper to each student. Some teachers prefer to write the question on the board in front of the class. The teacher then gives students a specific amount of time—anywhere from two to ten minutes– to respond in writing.  Some teachers provide a ticking timer with an alarm, as it helps students pace themselves. Make sure you emphasize to students that grammar and spelling are not important in this exercise.

When time’s up, all students must stop writing, even if it is mid-sentence. That’s because Quickwrites are generally used to gauge feedback about the amount of material a student can remember quickly, before, during or after reading.  

When the Quickwrite is complete, teachers can offer up an ideal response to the question posed, although, this is not always necessary. Providing an example does help students evaluate for themselves what they do and do not know about the text: an inherent benefit to this assessment tool– it can serve both teacher and student. 

Some of the best quickwrites occur when students are invested in the question. This is done by including a hook that students are interested in. For example, if you want students to think about the importance of dialogue in a story, set up the quickwrite so that they create dialogue about something they care about:  

Elementary students might dialogue about two people observing a parade. “Describe what you and your mother would say to each other while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.”

Secondary students might dialogue about a friendship issue. “Write a discussion between two friends who disagree about going to a dance.”

A related tool to have on hand is Scholastic’s helpful book of Quickwrite examples for Grade Five and up that gets students writing. (Linda Rief, 100 Quickwrites. New York:  Scholastic, 2003).

Anxiety-prone students may have trouble writing under pressure at first, but will get used to the drill over time. You can allay stress by reminding students that these activities are not graded. In the beginning of the year, it helps to allow students to use their notes or textbooks.

Teachers who use this strategy frequently say it is a great way to do many things in a very short amount of time. Quickwrites allow students to practice writing and critical thinking skills as a low-stakes activity without the burden of grade anxiety.

The versatility of Quickwrites are many…teachers can use them for

  • Reading comprehension quizzes, across curriculum
  • Triggering prior knowledge for scaffolding
  • Warming up the reading and writing muscles
  • Promoting reflection about key concepts
  • Prompting class discussion   
  • Reinforcing vocabulary, across curriculum
  • Practicing reviewing and synthesizing material covered in class,

And much more!  Tell us how you use Quickwrites effectively with your students.

For more excellent ideas to boost comprehension in your classroom, grab our FREE Comprehension Guide, today!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: quickwrites, formative assessments, evaluate student performance, reading comprehension, download, reading comprehension strategy, writing fluency, Marygrove MAT

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