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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?

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Teacher Appreciation Videos

We love teachers, and so does the internet. Here are the best teacher appreciation videos out there, because we really cannot thank you enough. Enjoy!

We at Gradeable see you changing the world, one student at a time

BuzzFeed and Target remind us why teachers have the toughest job

Google thanks every teacher on Earth for taking us to the Moon

Edutopia and Soul Pancake had teachers write a letter to their first year selves

David Letterman dedicates a Top 10 to teachers.

While Teacher Appreciation Week is coming to an end, we’re doing a whole month of teacher appreciation at Gradeable. Stay tuned for more teacher love, and thank you, teachers, for all that you do. You’ve made it all possibly for us! Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you Monday!

To learn more about how Gradeable is working to make your favorite teachers’ lives easier, visit www.gradeable.com.

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Gradeable Partners with Teach For America with iPad Mini Contest

teach for america ipad contest

Gradeable is pleased to announce a special contest hosted for our newest partner, Teach For America. All current Corps Members have the chance to win one of 25 iPad Minis. The contest ends June 30th.

All you need is a referral code

Teachers are entered into the contest as soon as they sign-up with referral code: TFA14. Winners are decided based on number of uploaded quizzes.

Learn more about the contest here.

Start with an Exit Ticket

May is the perfect month to try out Gradeable and win an iPad Mini. Teachers do not even have to wait to the next big chapter test — build tomorrow’s Exit Ticket on Gradeable and you’re up and running!

Teach For America Regional Leaderboard

We have representation from many regions, but there’s room for plenty more! Here is a ranking of the top-ranked TFA regions by number of sign-ups.

Know a TFA Corps Member? Be sure to forward this to them so that your favorite teacher can grade by the beach on their own iPad Mini.

teach for america ipad contest winner

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ProTip Wednesday: 10 Tips on Using Data for New Teachers

datanewteachers

Being a new teacher is never easy when you have classroom management and routine to strengthen— use these tips to start slowly using data in your classroom. Knowing is half the battle; back it up with data! But don’t take our word for it—listen to Gradeable users and education experts on how they use data in their classrooms.

1. Don’t re-invent the wheel

Don’t try to tackle data by creating an immense Excel or Google spreadsheet all by yourself. Chances are, the teacher next door or in your Twitter PLN already has a tracker they’d be happy to share with you! (If not – we do!)

2. Use tools you have to visualize the data

Take advantage of built-in tools, already in your hands. Many grade books, such as Easy Grade Pro, have summaries and reports that visualize student scores for an easy, at-a-glance analysis.

3. Make sure your data has context

Don’t take data for its face value — be sure to evaluate the data for authenticity and possible skewness. Were there students absent? Were there enough students? And then — How were planning to make the data actionable?

Our power user and middle school reading teacher, Colin T., wants to make sure new teachers started with these nuggets of wisdom:

4. Start small and use the data you already have

Begin with an exit ticket that just has 2-3 questions on it, assessing one objective.  At the end, your data should tell you which students mastered the objective, and which still need practice. By counting the number who got it, you will know whether to re-teach the objective to the whole class, just do a short review, or pull a few students for tutoring.

5. Get a buddy

Find a veteran teacher who is a wiz with data, and have her/him show you the spreadsheets s/he uses, and how to use them.

6. Plan ahead

Set up the assessment so it’s easy to analyze the data.  Organize it by objectives, and put a key at the end for yourself. Start with lower-rigor questions that all students can get right, then build to higher-difficulties that only a few will master.  That way, you can chart exactly where student understanding breaks down by looking at which questions were most frequently missed.

Gradeable user Rik Rowe is the #SBLchat moderator and math learning facilitator. These are some great tips for new high school teachers on how to use data in the classroom:

7. Compare pre-test and post-test grades

Teachers often forget to pre-test and jump into a unit before know exactly where students are before learning a new concept. Tracking their growth from pre-test to post-test allows both teachers and students to celebrate growth!

8. Analyze Summative Assessments to pinpoint weaknesses

Teachers should analyze Summative Assessment grades and determine what that tells them about what weaknesses their students have and how to close that gap with the next unit.

Jennifer S. is a high school math teacher and a recent Gradeable Social panelist. She’d like new teachers to keep these things in mind when analyzing data for the first time:

9. Purpose of the paper

Are you using the ticket to leave to figure out if students know how to do a skill?  Make it easily correctable, correct them quickly, incorporate into your next day’s do now/class materials and return them to students to correct errors.  Then, toss.  To correct, I often know the answers by heart, stand at the door and collect the (Ticket to Leave) TTL and give students an immediate yes or now or quick tip as they walk out.

10. Get the wide view

How are students generally doing on a group of standards?  Use data to get the big picture with programs like Gradeable.  Take the time to correlate questions to standards so you can track these.

Looking for more thoughts on data in the classroom? Check out this video from our recent panel on assessment and the importance of data.

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Common Core: An Intro from Gradeable

Painters' tape Gradeable calendar doesn't lie, folks.

Painters’ tape Gradeable calendar doesn’t lie, folks.

Hope everyone’s ready for some Common Core talk because this week is all about THE CORE.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are learning standards adopted by 40+ states that sets the bar for where students should be at each grade level.  Right now, the Common Core measures mastery of math and reading by taking a more contextualized approach — it’s about understanding over memorization. The CCSS encourages thinking and deeper understanding over memorization. Think of word problems in math — how the numbers actually relate in the real world.

Kirby, a Teach for America (TFA) teacher who spent a year with Common Core described the core standards with a good example. When you teach a second grader to subtract by borrowing, say 21 – 8, you show them how cross out the 2 and make the 1 an 11 and take 8 from 11, but we don’t exactly tell them why. He called this teaching them algorithms instead of concepts. With Common Core, students are encouraged to work in groups and come up with how to subtract 8 from 21 themselves.

So this movement is sweeping the country. Like all changes that blanket an entire nation, the Common Core has its controversies. Right now, we’re in that awkward transitional phase. Since the standards build on each other (5th grade instruction builds off 4th grade, which was built off 3rd…) 5th graders being introduced to the Core are caught in no man’s land with no support from what they should’ve learn from the grades leading up to 5th.

Another issue is that the Core demands a new level of rigor that some students, teachers, and parents aren’t prepared for. Imagine scrapping the whole borrowing thing while teaching subtraction? Every student has to reinvent the wheel and teachers are expected to teach it without showing them a circle. This adds more pressure and work for teachers to come up with new, more challenging lesson plans, and sometimes with the lack of support needed for effective CCSS instruction.

On the other side of the coin is that Common Core is meant to make that high school diploma count. Kirby, who taught in Nevada,  the 50th in the nation in education said the Core was initially developed to standardize the testing accountability on a national level. The “accountability movement” started in the 1990s because the US was behind other countries academically.

The standards for math and English (released in June of 2010) are only about three years old so, like I said, there’s an awkward transitional phase. And this is where Gradeable comes in. Recently our team developed standards-based grading functionality with the Common Core standards pre-loaded.

So what does that mean for you? It means when you’re giving a quiz / test / assessment, you have a tool that will keep track of how that quiz (or whatever) measures a standard. Did question 2 assess third grade reading and listening standard number 1? Well, go ahead and drag the [3R . RL . 1] tag onto that question and by the end of your grading session, you’ll have a nice portfolio of how your students are doing with [3R . RL .1] Come report card time, Gradeable will have all your standards measured with the artifacts to show where your grades came from.

Are you teaching to another set of standards? Well first, I can’t believe you read this far, and second, we’re working to help you assess standards-based grading. If you’ve got a unique set of guidelines to teach to, we’d love to help you streamline the assessment part of it.

Next Thursday, we’re having a pizza party to demo the new functionality and eat all the free pizza we got from Domino’s. If you’re in the Boston area, come by and try out the new functionality. We’re all ears for feedback, insights, and suggestions from the teachers who are actually using the tools.

Don’t feel like nerding out on a Thursday night? Well come enjoy wine and our quirky company. Teachers like wine and jokes, right?

Here’s the eventbrite. And as always, please share your Common Core thoughts. Whether you love it, hate it, struggle, or embrace it, I wanna hear your teaching tales!