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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.

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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!

 Don’t let the project blues get you, get started with Gradeable Projects—now!

CTA

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4 Common Grading Problems, Solved by Gradeable

Assessment can be so annoying!  Whether you’re a new or veteran teacher, you can relate to the frustration.  Gradeable offers solutions that teachers can use to solve the following grading issues have withstood the test of time:

#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. Using Gradeable to scan in all student papers or upload digital assessments ensures that every single paper will be accounted for in their individual digital portfolios.portfolioss

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.


#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 well-thought lesson plans and remediation. Gradeable’s data break downs created after grading will layout a clear, evidence-backed picture of exactly which questions and problems students struggle with.

SS5All data break downs come with beautifully visualized graphs and charts that make it easy to present insights at Professional Development or staff meetings— or even to your classes! Students love to know their own progress.

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

#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.

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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.

 

#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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If you feel that Gradeable might be helpful for your classroom get a GRADEABLE FREE TRIAL or LEARN MORE ABOUT GRADEABLE!  Feel free to contact our community manager Kavita with any questions: kavita@gradeable.com. She’s really nice and would love you to hear from you!

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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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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
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ProTip Wednesday: Organize Teaching Files in 5 Steps

organizefiles

The Teacher Desktop is almost as bad as the Teacher Window (20+ tabs in one window). Don’t wait to organize your computer files— start now! It’s easy to hide old lesson plans and PowerPoints in a folder, it’s not easy to find it again months later. As part of our summer of re-evaluation tips and tricks, the first step is to get organized. Summer is the best time to clear the virtual clutter and have it organized for the Fall.

Step 1. Centralize all the files

If you’re like me then you also have lesson plans on multiple flash drives and email addresses. When it comes to finding that one quiz you gave on the Atmosphere three months later, it’ll take awhile. To start the organization process, go through all potential sources that you have files, and save it all on your personal computer or hard drive. Be sure to look through:

  • Flash drives
  • Emails between co-workers
  • Google Drive
  • DropBox
  • Computer bookmarks
  • Evernote
  • YouTube
  • School computer
  • Online learning management systems like Edmodo
  • Online lesson planning websites like BetterLesson or Share My Lesson

And don’t forget to clear out your school computer before the district wipes your emails and computer for the summer!

Step 2. Create folders (please!)

Now that you have a slew of files, it’s time to organize them into folders. Turn on some music, bring out some coffee and place relevant files into their corresponding folders.

Tip! Don’t try to organize too deeply at this step. For example: Instead of making folders for Metamorphic, Igneous, and Sedimentary rock lessons, just make one for the Rock Cycle. If that’s too detailed, keep to big units. Don’t worry about re-naming or separating by pictures or Word documents—leave that for the next step.

Step 3. Organize, organize, organize

This step will take more time and consideration because this is a good opportunity to figure out what to archive, keep, or trash. According to MakeUseOf, file organization can happen several ways.

  • Organize by Category: Files like PowerPoint, Word Documents, PDFs, etc. For us teachers, this is not the most optimal way of organizing as we know that we have more PowerPoints than we know what to do with.
  • Organize by Date: Our teacher-in-residence and Head of Customer Success, Sheri, likes to organize her teaching files by date. Example: 020414PythagoreanTheorem (February 4, 2014) After 10 years, she says that organizing by date helps with pacing.

Other teacher-focused ways of organizing folders and files:

  • By Unit/Standard
  • By Semester or grading period
  • By Project
  • By Theme

Within these master folders, subfolders can look something like this:

  • Weather Cycle
    • Presentations
    • Lesson Plans
    • Media
    • Projects
    • Worksheets
    • Assessments

Check out how Kindergarten Works organizes their digital folders, along with graphics!

Don’t forget to re-name files with a uniform, simple, and easy way that is recognizable at a glance.

Step 4. Set up for success

The worst thing that can happen is if your hard-earned system dissolves due to disuse. Starting in the summer, get into the habit of moving files to their dedicated folders instead of letting them live on the desktop. Or you can try some of these other strategies:

  • Set up a “file organization” time each week, like Sunday mornings at 11am. That extra 10 minutes will keep your desktop clean, files organized, and sanity in place.
  • Use Evernote to clip interesting lesson plans, news, or media. The tagging feature will be useful to organize and find information when you’re fixing lesson plans in the future.

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Step 5. Clean up and back up

I’m guilty of keeping screenshots that I have no idea what I kept it for because it just lived on my desktop or Pinterest. Regularly vet your files and see what is not important. Also, back up files to an external hard drive or service like DropBox. Nothing can be worse than rebuilding an entire unit because of digital memory loss!

Tip! Using programs like Grand Perspective can give you an idea of which files are taking up large amounts of space. For example, after running the program, I realized that many of the videos I use for Presentations were taking up at least 10GB of space. I either kept it on my YouTube or exported to an external HD without compromising more space. You can also consider keeping a Picasa or Shutterfly account to organize pictures.

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ProTip Wednesday: 6 Steps to be Productive in Summer Reflection

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We now know that feedback is incredibly important to students’ growth, but that same feedback is also extremely beneficial for us—the teachers— to grow as well. Because isn’t teaching also always growing and changing? But it’s hard to start looking back because we were so ready to look forward come June 1st. Here are 6 steps I personally took to get my mind out of “I need summer break. Now.” to “I’m going to own it next year.”

Step 1. Gather the evidence

Like we mentioned yesterday, it’s very easy to give into summer break and just throw the forgotten projects and student surveys into the circular bin right now. It’s not as easy when it comes August and you’re trying to wrack your brain to remember if your lesson on Metamorphic rocks was successful. Be sure to gather:

  • Teacher evaluations
  • Long term plans
  • Standards taught this year
  • Lesson plans saved on your teacher desktop
  • Student surveys: beginning of the year, mid year, and end of the year
  • Snap pictures of your bulletin boards and desk arrangements
  • A list of all student names
  • One or two examples of every test, assignment, or notebook that you can find

Another great strategy to avoid scrambling for paperwork at the end of the year is to use Gradeable. Gradeable makes digital portfolios and the process of organizing artifacts simple and streamlined.

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Step 2. Clean house

After gathering what you need to reflect, it’s time to clean house — also known as your classroom. It’s cathartic to throw out anything superfluous and truly start fresh for a summer of evaluating and iterating your craft.

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Step 3. Decompress with the department

Before your fellow teachers leave with their ideas or extra materials, be sure to drop by and chat with your department. Not only will it help to blow some steam by reminiscing about the ups and downs of any school year, but it’s also a great time to informally reflect together and validate any successful universal planning efforts. There shouldn’t be any need to reinvent the wheel by yourself if you have an entire department full of friends. And are there teachers retiring? Don’t let them throw away years worth of time-tested lesson plans and materials without asking.

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Step 4. Do a brain dump

A personal favorite, I like to do a kind of “brain dump” before going into organizing and evaluating, especially since my mind tends to forget the little details with time. A good exercise is to go to your favorite coffee shop and take your long term plan and standards list. Write comments in the margins of whatever you may remember. Good questions to start with are:

  • Was it successful? (Be sure to define what success means.)
  • Did the students enjoy this lesson?
  • Did you enjoy teaching this lesson?
  • Where there any learning obstacles?
  • Did it take too long to prep? Or was it easy to do?
  • What comments do you remember? What were the students’ reaction?
  • What is the general feeling or thought you have as you think back on this lesson?

Another way to organize this exercise is to make a two-column document where one column are lesson plans you taught this year and the right-hand column is where you could write comments, thoughts, and other general ideas.

Step 5. Say good-bye to each student

More than likely, the longer you teach, the more often you will have a “type” of student. For example, types like the student that could not concentrate because they liked visuals or kinesthetics better than note taking, or the student that could do mutivariable math equations mentally but could not finish their homework. I wrote each of my students a personalized letter which I used as a good period of reflection of what I thought achieved this year and what I remember about their personal lives. Many times I went back and referenced their beginning of the year surveys to help show them their growths and strengths.

If you do not write notes, you can also take that list of student names and go through a similar exercise as step 4. With each student, write down any event or feeling that pops to mind because it could help you with differentiation strategies for next year’s lesson plans.

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Step 6. Face the feedback

Feedback from student surveys will be extremely useful but can also be hard to digest. Bring out a glass of wine and turn on your brave face because even if your students’ feedback and past work may be difficult to swallow, it will also help you grow. Keep a spreadsheet or notebook nearby to write down common comments and trends because you’ll need it later to evaluate old lesson plans.

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Next week’s ProTip will be taking a deep dive on what is exactly in your box and your computer and figuring out what to toss and what to keep.

Want to get all your artifacts and assignments together digitally? Check out what Gradeable can do for you today: www.gradeable.com

try gradeable

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ProTip Wednesday: 10 Activities to Get to Know Your Students Better

gettingtoknow

As we close out our month on student engagement strategies, let’s leave with the number one secret weapon your teacher arsenal: getting to know your students. We’ve touched upon this very important subject before:

Getting to know students it not just for the beginning of the year, it’s a continuous process throughout the year. Here are some strategies that work at any time of the year, especially at the end of the year:

1. What’s in a name?

You automatically think that note cards are great ways for emergency information on students, but why not use them as conversation starters about students’ names? Here are some suggestions that fit perfectly for this point of the year: (via Scholastic)

  • What’s your full name?
  • Were you named after someone?
  • What does your name mean?
  • What is your nickname? How did you get that nickname?
  • If you could change your name, what would you name yourself?
  • Now…. on the bottom of this paper, please write your name in a creative way. Can you use color? Fancy writing? Swirls? Block letters? A pattern? Design something as special as YOU are!

2. Create a class compliment fan

This is an activity from our own Head of Customer Success, Sheri. She used this near the end of the year and had students write compliments about each other on each side of the folded accordion fan so each time the student unfolded a flap, they would see another compliment. This is one strategy to get to know the positive things students see each other and to encourage a happier, inclusive classroom environment.

3. Dinner with a side of college

This guidance counselor invited her students’ families over for dinner to not only get to know them but to also coach them through the often confusing college application and tuition process. Many of these students are the first to attend college from their families so personal time with them and their families was invaluable. (via ASCD)

4. Giving old worksheets a twist

Long test? Stick one last “fun question” that you can use to get to know students. My personal favorite while teaching a fossil unit was for them to draw our “unit mascot” the T-Rex in a variety of ways. For example, “T-Rex loves to dance. Draw T-Rex in his natural habitat with your favorite song.” Doing this, I was able to not only get a laugh, but also learn what songs they liked to listen to during our work times. (classroom-friendly of course!)

5. Formative assessments as weekend assessments

Daily formative assessments like Do Nows and Exit Tickets are great opportunities to add questions to get to know students. From “What are you doing this weekend?” to “What is your favorite flavor of chips?” the possibilities for creativity are endless.

6. Student fact math problems

One teacher ingeniously came up with the idea to join a typical “get to know you” type of activity into an actual math lesson by asking students to create math questions that have answers that relate to their lives. For example, one side of a paper is 2x+1=7 and on the other side, the answer is 3, “I have 3 dogs.” (via ASCD)

7. Google Voice messages

Nervous about giving out your personal phone number? Create your own Google Voice number easily here. A Google Voice number is an alternate number (one you can choose!) that will still connect to your direct phone number but your students will not have your personal number. With this activity, ask students to call you and leave a voice message describing something about their day or weekend. It’s the same “getting to know you” activity, but with a twist! (via OLE Community)

8. Life maps

My personal favorite “getting to know you” activity that I did at the beginning of the second semester, but it can really be done at any time of the year. Although it is very fun to see students’ life maps, I’ve had instances where the events are deeply personal and emotional for students. It’s an extremely powerful activity because students are not just describing their lives in an essay—they are also drawing and mapping it. I end it by asking students to draw where they want to be in 20 years.

9. Getting to know students’ communities

The communities we teach in are not often the same communities teachers live in. Another project I tried with my students was to put students at the driver’s seat of community rejuvenation. They created a T-Chart of they liked and disliked about their community and conducted interviews with families and friends. We were able to discuss as a class what they liked and how they could fix what they did not like.

10. Give advice to next year’s class

Stephanie over at Teaching in Room 6 writes about a very easy and edit-less way to procure and curate advice from your current class to next year’s class. Bonus: overhearing their conversations when they work together is priceless! (via Teaching in Room 6)

Get to know how your student is learning. Find out how at www.gradeable.com