Getting started with Digital Grading: 3 Tips for Making the Transition

Despite the obvious advantages of transitioning to digital files and grading in the classroom, it can prove to be quite challenging. In my own transition, I learned a few important lessons about the challenges that come with going all-digital in your classroom assessment, and learned a lot about making the transition a successful one. Here are three suggestions for making the process seamless:


  • Know your students: As teachers we pride ourselves on knowing the whole child and developing every students’ academic, social, and emotional learning in the classroom and beyond. We know their favorite foods, their hobbies, and of course their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. But when it comes to assessing our students, we are often unaware of their preferences and comfort regarding different assessment formats. To guide you in understanding your students’ needs and preferences, I would encourage you to consider the following questions with your class. This should guide your implementation of digital assessment, and provide insight into any challenges you may face in early implementation.
    1. When you take a test online, what do you like about it? What challenges you?
    2. Do you have internet and device access at home (for digital homework)?
    3. Is it helpful to you to get immediate feedback on your school work?
  • Assess the digital landscape of your classroom: When transitioning to an all digital environment, it is important to consider the digital resources in your classroom and school to guide your implementation.Answering these questions in advance will help you plan lessons around your own digital resources and help you avoid feeling constrained or overwhelmed by the digital status of your classroom. For example, if you have five students to every device, consider planning a group-based assessment of your students’ proficiency rather than stretching yourself to find a device for every student.  
    1. How many computers are available in your classroom? Your school?
    2. Are tablets or smartphones available that could be used in place of computers?
    3. Do students bring their own device?
    4. Do these devices have reliable internet access?
    5. Is your classroom 1 to 1, or some other ratio of students to devices?
  • Find an assessment platform that meets your needs: Now that your are thinking successfully about the logistics of digital assessment, it is time to find a tool that meets your needs and provides comprehensive features for all aspects of your classroom assessment. We’ve listed some important features for digital assessment, with the hope that you will find a product that works for you, your students, and your classroom.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 4.34.54 PM

If you are interested in learning more about Gradeable’s new all-digital assessment tool, please click here.

Click here to get your free trial of Gradeable’s Digital Assessment tool.


In her time in the classroom, Ellen, or Ms. Ellen as she was known by her 5th grade students, experienced the challenge that grading presented to many teachers. Now a graduate student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Ellen joined Gradeable to help teachers like herself overcome this challenge and be another voice in product development. Ellen will be blogging about her time at Harvard, thoughts on the field of education, stories of superstar teachers, and new information surrounding the Gradeable product. Ellen can be reached  directly by email at Ellen@gradeable.com. Please reach out with concerns, feedback, inquires, or of course, successes with the product.


Introducing Gradeable’s Digital Formative Assessment Tool: 5 Easy Steps to Get Started!

Our digital assessment tool allows you to integrate digital formative assessment in the classroom and beyond; whether you are assessing your class for a daily quiz, semester long exams, 1:1 or 1:many assignments, or even with a quick homework assignment that you send to your students by email, Gradeable has you covered. Following our 5 easy easy steps, using our exciting new tool will save save you hours of turmoil by grading your assessments automatically!

5 Easy Steps to Get Started with Digital Assessment!

1) Add in Student Emails: You can start by opening up the Gradeable dashboard. If you have not already added a class list, please do so by clicking “Students”  on the main page. An important step to set up digital assessment, however, is to make sure that each student in your class has a corresponding email; otherwise, only the students with previously entered email addresses will receive an assignment. Once you have entered an email for each student, these will be saved for future assessments. Add an email by clicking on the students’ name in the Students tab, then click  “Edit” on the left hand side of your screen.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.21.38 PM

2) Create an Assessment: From the Gradeable dashboard, select “Assignments” at the top of your screen. Once there, select “New Quiz” on the right side of your screen.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.45.26 AM
Name your assessment, and choose corresponding classes by checking the boxes to the left of their names. Next, decide if you want to align your quiz with Common Core State Standards, and select the standards you would like to evaluate by clicking on “Get Standards”. Once you have chosen the correct standards, choose “Create” on the top left section of your screen, and you should be able to start adding questions to your assessment.

3) Add questions to your assessment: Add questions by navigating to the bottom of your screen, and selecting “Click here to enter question.” You then have the option of adding multiple choice or short answer questions to you assignment or assessment, just as you would for our paper assessments. You can also tag questions in alignment with CCSS to measure your students’ proficiency automatically.

(Creating your assessment)

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.45.54 AM

(Adding Questions)

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.49.40 AM

When you are done adding questions, simply select the “Done” button at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. The end result should look similar to this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.49.59 AM

4) Export your quiz: If you are satisfied with the end product of your quiz, its time to export your quiz by email. Instead of exporting your quiz to print on paper by choosing “Save & Quit” instead select “Share by Email” to email your assessment directly to your students (using the addresses we added earlier).

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.50.46 AM

Your students are now ready to complete their assignments, and should receive an email akin to the following.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.52.28 AM

Each student should then click on the hyperlink, and login using their own email address (at which they received the assessment), and their unique access code. They can then complete the assignment as normal, and submit it to you for automatic grading.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.53.06 AM

5) Sit back and watch your assignments grade themselves: As students complete their assessments, and this is the totally awesome part, all multiple choice questions will be graded and analyzed automatically by Gradeable!  All you need to do is navigate to the Assignments page in your dashboard to see student progress and results.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.57.34 AM

If you added in short answer questions, however, you have one final step!  Navigate to your Assignments page on the Gradeable dashboard, and select “Grade” on the top right. From here you’ll be prompted to grade any short answer questions by assigning corresponding credit.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.59.29 AM

You did it! You graded your first digital assessment you superstar! Now that you have set up digital assessment, your future assessments should run quickly and smoothly. Now sit back and watch as your students absorb your wonderful instruction!

If you would like to learn if digital assessment is right for you, and how to make the transition, please click here.

At Gradeable, we strive to provide teachers with a diverse arsenal of tools for formative assessment. Learn more about our  paper-based assessment and project-based grading tools!

In her time in the classroom, Ellen, or Ms. Ellen as she was known by her 5th grade students, experienced the challenge that grading presented to many teachers. Now a graduate student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Ellen joined Gradeable to help teachers like herself overcome this challenge and be another voice in product development on the Gradeable team. Ellen will be blogging about her time at Harvard, thoughts on the field of education, stories of superstar teachers, and new information surrounding the Gradeable product. Ellen can be reached  directly by email at Ellen@gradeable.com. Please reach out with concerns, feedback, inquires, or of course, successes with the product.


ProTip Wednesday: Businesses that LOVE Teachers!


In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we did a round-up of all the great discounts, deals, and freebies businesses across the country offered. However, some of these places also love teachers year-round so we distilled the list for you to keep. Be sure to bookmark this page as we’ll continually update it when we find more businesses that love teachers!

Ann Taylor LOFT: Through the Loft Loves Teachers program, save 15% off full-price purchases with enrollment in the free program.

Ann Taylor Loft LogoAerosoles: Enjoy 15% off footwear items priced $39.99 +. Simply present your teacher ID or a pay-stub in one of our stores,or call 800-798-9478, to place your order.

Aerosoles_Logo_bl_stApple: Get special pricing on Apple computers, software and select third party products to college students, parents buying for a college student, or teachers, homeschool teachers, administrators and staff of all grade levels.

Banana Republic: Banana Republic offers 15% off regular-priced merchandise for all teachers. The discount is valid in stores only with a valid teacher ID or current pay stub.

imagesBarnes & Noble:Join the B&N Educator Program for 20% off purchases for your classroom year-round.

Barnes and Noble LogoBooks-A-Million: In-store, teachers can apply for an Educator’s Card for additional savings and free express shipping on online orders.

Books-A-Million-LogoThe Container Store: offers educators special discounts throughout the year to help organize your classroom! Complete the form to receive your first offer, redeemable in-store, online or by phone.

containerEducator’s B&B Network: In this travel club, a $36 annual membership fee allows teachers to stay anywhere in the world for $40 a night (for two people).
FED-EX: FedEx Office is pleased to offer teachers, professors, faculty and staff members15% off on most products and services at participating FedEx Office nationwide. To receive your discount, simply present your discount card when making a purchase in-store or at fedexoffice.com and the discount will automatically be applied.

Half Price Books: 10% off all purchases all-year for educators.

J.Crew: Receive an exclusive 15% off every time you shop at J. Crew. This discount is applicable to all regularly priced merchandise at J.Crew retail stores, at jcrew.com, or via phone order.

JCrewLogo_Large2J. Jill: 15% off in stores.

jjill-logoJo-Ann Fabric and Crafts: Save 15% off purchases with enrollment in this free program. –Jo-Ann Teacher Rewards

JO-ANN+400+LogoLakeshore Learning: Save 15% off with enrollment in the free Teacher’s Club program.

lakeshoreThe Limited: Students, educators, and military personnel receive 15% off every purchase made at any The Limited store location – just show your school or military I.D.

limitedMichaels: Save 15% off everyday with proof of employment.

Michaels-logoNew York Times: The New York Times offers up to 50% off the normal subscription cost on home delivery of The New York Times for K-12 teachers. To enroll, current subscribers and new subscribers should call 1-800-NY-TIMES.

New-York-Times-LogoNY&Co: Show your teacher ID and receive 20% off your first-time purchase, 15% off after that.

nycoTalbots: 15% off in stores on full-priced merchandise.


Looking for the best deal of all? Sign-up with Gradeable and see how much more time you can save at www.gradeable.com

try gradeable


Beyond the Red Pen: Meet Shelia, High School Contemporary Themes


Meet Shelia, a high school Contemporary Themes teacher. She is not only a teacher, but she’s also built classroom norms around joy and student collaboration. Learn more about creating a joyful classroom at Joyful Classroom and at her personal class website.

grading tips routine

What is your current location?
Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, California

What subject and grade(s) do you teach?
Contemporary Themes, 12th grade

What is your favorite teaching accessory?
Post-It Notes and my class website

Tips and tricks on making the best “teacher lunch?”
I have a mini kitchen in the back of my classroom complete with Keurig, mini fridge, microwave, toaster and believe it or not a Capresso milk frother. I bring groceries to school each week so I have plenty of healthy snacks to choose from throughout the day. My favorite is Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of organic, raw almond butter. YUM.

grading tips for teachers

What’s your favorite time to grade and why?
There is no favorite time to grade, but I love it when I can squeeze it into the school day. I try not to take too much home.

What is your must have grading tool/utensil?
I grade almost everything online these days. Students are grouped at the beginning of the year into “Think Tank” research teams. These Think Tanks create a website that then houses most of their work for the year, including their ePortfolios and spoken word reflections. My website is suttonclassroom.com and I link each Think Tank to my site so that I can easily access student work. Students also participate in online forums, which are also located on the website.

How do you find grading “zen?”
Is there such a thing? I need to read your blog to find out! (Editor‘s Note: Ask and you shall receive…)

What is your super secret tip to grade faster that you wish all teachers knew?
Project based learning that is scored on a rubric. I can score while the students are presenting. I give them feedback immediately and then they can choose to go back and make corrections (or not to). I take a photo of the rubric for my records, and then I hand the group the hard copy so they can look at when they are done presenting. (They also get the rubric ahead of time so they know what to expect.)

teacher grading tips

What is one strategy that has worked to increase student motivation?
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is one way to motivate students. They are comfortable with technology, and allowing them to use it in creative ways in class is often a motivator. I also use classroom norms that the student come up with. These norms allow students the freedom to take care of their own needs during the class. I do not run a fear based classroom. Students are not motivated by fear; they are motivated by faith and joy! I like to call my classroom a “JOY based” classroom! (Editor’s Note: Check out Shelia’s amazing resource on how to create a Joyful Classroom!)

What is the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?
A mentor from the UCLA Writing Project told me nearly 20 years ago, “If you are working harder than your students are working, then you are working too hard!” She also said, “Don’t do anything that the students should be (and need to be) doing.” This advice shifted everything for me.  The best advice I like to give young teachers is, “Love them well.” When I work from a place of loving my students, they can and do learn!

teacher grading tips fun

Do you have specific teaching shoes? If so, what are they?
I wear TOMS wedges a lot! I have 6 pairs! I love the TOMS model of “Buy One, Give One.” We also read Blake McCosky’s book, START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS in my class.

What’s the last thing you bought for your classroom?
I’m pretty foolish in this department. I just recently bought 800 dollars worth of books (YES. WITH. MY. OWN. MONEY.) because I want to put good books into students’ hands. I purchased a class set of DAVID AND GOLIATH by Malcolm Gladwell. I also purchased multiple titles for literature circle reading. I buy 6 copies of each title so that my students can read them in small groups. Some of the titles include: THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot, FEED by M. T. Anderson, and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT by Mark Haddon. I have over a thousand books in my classroom!

Looking to become a grading ninja like Sheila? Sign-up with Gradeable and see what we can do for your grading game at www.gradeable.com



Friday Bulletin Board: The Post Pizza Party Edition



So last night was our pizza party. It was the first real event that we Gradeable girls put on together and we had an inordinate amount of fun coordinating logistics, reaching out to teachers, moving furniture, and everything in between.

In addition, we met some great teachers to remind us why Gradeable exists in the first place. It’s the teachers making time on a Thursday night to come into Boston during finals season who make this ed-tech startup business worth while. So thank you to the teachers, supporters, contributors, and providers of delicious food who made last night possible.

Common Core and high-stakes testing

Red and Yellow Apple are ready to discuss the Core.

Red and Yellow Apple are ready to discuss the Core.

Before I got to the party last night, I responded to a Tony Wagner article that said the problem with the Common Core was all the high-stakes testing. While I agreed that over-emphasis on high-stakes testing detracts from the educational process for students, teachers, and administrators alike, I did not agree with Wagner equating the Common Core with the high-profile testing. When I was about done writing, Sheri sent me an article written by Brett Peiser, the CEO of Uncommon Schools, who shared the story of his students who embraced this raised bar, discomfort, and challenge of the Common Core. The students were inspired by the story of Michael Jordan’s struggles at the beginning of his career and even wore Jordan’s jersey on test days.

Couple CCSS lesson planning resources

Kattie Lam doin' her thang!

Kattie Lam doin’ her thang!

Last night, Kattie, our Teacher Evangelist, absolutely knocked my socks off with her presentation skills. She spoke to a roomful people on ways that ed-tech is helping with the Common Core. While I was putting my socks back on, I realized that she introduced some pretty concrete tools for educators to conquer the Common Core. They are BetterLesson and LearnZillion. BetterLesson is a lot like a Personal Learning Network where teacher share their successful lesson plans, organized by standard. LearnZillion is a place to find thousands of lesson plans for the Common Core. Thanks, Kattie!

Teachers on Twitter

Rik (@WHSRowe) talks to Parul

Rik (@WHSRowe) talks to Parul

Toward the end of the evening, I had the pleasure of talking to a high school math teacher who has dedicated himself to “lighting a fire” under students. Metaphorically, of course. He and I talked at length about the benefits, connectivity, and engagement that Twitter offers. @WHSRowe told me how students will Tweet him when they’re stuck on a problem and he’ll Tweet them back with hints or a video to get them through what they don’t understand. “How cool is that?” he kept saying. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Twitter. I love how accessible the world becomes with it. But to use social media to engage students in math? Can’t beat it.

Alright everyone, now go have yourselves a great weekend!

Gradeable wine labels courtesy of the talented Mikaila

Gradeable wine labels courtesy of the talented Mikaila


Friday Bulletin Board: The Common Core Edition

Mikaila and Kattie surf the web for Common Core articles.

Mikaila and Kattie surf the web for Common Core articles.

Common Core FAQ
Nice roundup of common questions about the Common Core. Historically, the US has been resistant to a national teaching standard so that’s why the Core is such a big deal. Most interesting to me was that the standards were not a government mandate but President Obama is all about it. In fact, the federal government shelled out $438 million to develop standardized tests aligned with the standards. It’s a national debate, and this is a great cheat sheet.

Why Common Core may not fix our “weak-sauce” math scores
For those of you who haven’t heard, US students scored poorly on an international math test called PISA (Program of International Student Assessment.) The article says that most countries in the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) gave more teachers more control of their classroom while with Common Core, admin and policy makers of the US and dictate the rules in a top-down approach. Further, the scores may have to do with socio-economic differences. Still, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls the test scores “a picture of educational stagnation”.  To me, this is all fuel for the controversy fire. And nothing is going to get better when the two sides are running in different directions.

Teachers in Colorado make the Common Core work for them
In the state of Colorado, a group of teachers volunteered to work (ON THE WEEKENDS) to develop an approach to teaching to the standards standards. I picked this story because it’s was something done by teachers, for teachers. These lovers of their job got together to create a curriculum that could be adapted in any district. For example, one rural district, “a unit assessment revolves around a county fair and employs geometry to determine the sizes of livestock holding pens.” Because, let’s be honest, Common Core is not easy and any new set of standards can be intimidating. And in Colorado, they’ve taken an initiative to make it work for them. By developing a process they understand, teachers don’t have to feel like they’re re-creating the wheel every class. (Their words, and also mine! Great minds 🙂

How’s your school’s internet connection?
You know when you’re trying to get something done online and the internet is slow? Like your health, you kind of take internet connection speed for granted until it’s underperforming. Well imagine if you had these technical difficulties while trying to teach a classroom full of students? Or the connection is not strong enough for all the students to take an exam at once? These are some things considered in this article. It’s one of those boring but important things is the foundation for ed-tech. How many of you out there can do your job without the internet?

23 defining traits of your favorite teacher
For all the teachers out there busting their humps to teach at a higher standard, this is for you. Because I still remember when my seventh grade math teacher did #22. And #21 is for the talented, wonderful Sheri Cheng.

Have great weekend!


Friday Bulletin Board

Apples say, "We're ready for a great quarterback match up on Sunday! GO PATS!!!"

Apples say, “We’re ready for a great quarterback match up on Sunday! GO PATS!!! And we respect Peyton Manning, but he’s no Handsome #12!”


Report sheds light on who teaches with technology
The pew research center conducted a survey asking middle and secondary school teachers how they use technology. As no surprise, technology has become a central part of their every day lives. Technology is central in most of our lives these days whether we’d like to admit it or not. I picked this story because it’s a good, straight forward look at technology’s number (with an infographic, of course). Probably the most interesting is that teachers are more likely to have a laptop, computer, or e-reader than the general population. And most tellingly, teachers in lower income communities are having a hard time getting resources and support to bring technology into their classrooms.

9 iPhone projects
The teacher who put this together says that students don’t usually think of their devices as cameras or all the different things you can learn from photography. My favorite of her projects is the one that combines writing with pictures. For example they could make a “how-to” guide taking pictures of each of the steps. At it’s very core, photography forces you to look at something in a different angle, light, or composition. It gives you some perspective.

Protests in LA over $1 billion iPad rollout
We revisit LA this week. The school system is having trouble convincing everyone that iPads are a good idea. While the iPad director insists it’s about how teachers make use of their devices, and not the device itself, her message isn’t getting across very clearly. Protesters believe the plan is unsustainable and irresponsible. Their plan calls for the distribution of over 100,000 iPads over the spring semester. I mean, that’s a ton of iPads if you’re not secure in the game plan. What do you think? Is the big iPad budget justified? Or should more resources be applied to teacher support? While you think it over, check my favorite excerpt from the article…

The protest, organized by United Teachers Los Angeles, included protesters eating an iPad-shaped cake and 10 teachers and parents holding up the numerical digits of the $1-billion cost.

Focus in school shifting from collecting data to using it

Teachers easily tap into data about their students’ performance to adjust how they teach, and parents can log into networks to learn how their children are doing, according to a new report by the Data Quality Campaign

Things are happening! People are making effective use of all this data. Sometimes, when I harp about using data, it’s amazing to me that not everyone appreciates the power of analyzing data. Maybe it’s not idea for every situation. I wish Google didn’t know everything I was thinking, but in school? To help our young minds reach their potential? It’s a no brainer. I’m glad it’s made its way to the Huffington Post. Or HuffPo as we like to call it in the biz…

President John F. Kennedy: Remarks at Amherst College, October 26, 1963
In honor of JFK, I’m sharing one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read. This excerpt of his speech honoring Robert Frost and the role of the artist is printed out in my room. That such a powerful political figure recognized the ups and downs and standards to which an artist holds him/herself reminds me of why I chose the artist’s path.

If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.

Have a great weekend, everyone!