The Assessment-Grading App That Changed My Classroom

For years, I have been using data to drive my instruction.  Tests (summative assessments) were entered into a program (Eduphoria) that aggregated the data for me and I used it religiously to make adjustments in my teaching and lesson planning.  This is how I discovered the concepts that my students were understanding, not understanding, and what teaching strategies and methods were most effective.  If a particular lab or activity really seemed to drive the point across and the test data supported it, then I definitely made note of that and was sure to continue it in the following years (with minor tweaks, of course!).  But most of the time, I was ready to move onto the next unit and the data I collected was only used for developing my lessons for the following year.  I was missing out on the data that was probably most important in the moment - the quizzes.

Formative assessments are really where you have the chance to catch misconceptions and make interventions before it's too late.  But for some reason, until last year, I never put as much emphasis or attention on my quiz data.  If you aren't looking at assessment data, you are missing a HUGE component of what can make a difference in the success of your students and you as an educator.  Data should drive the instructional decisions you make.  We don't have the luxury of tons of extra time, so why waste your precious minutes on assumptions about what you think your students are struggling with and what they have mastered.  

And speaking of not having time, well..... I just don't have much of it.  So you can rest-assured that anything I recommend has been tried, tested, and approved in my middle school classroom.  If it's not worth my time, effort, or money, it doesn't make the cut.  But this app does it all!

6 Reasons I LOVE ZipGrade:

  1. I actually started using ZipGrade last year as sort of a trial run.  I loved how easy it was to use and my students loved getting immediate feedback.  As an educator, it allows me to immediately see who is understanding the material and who isn't.  I am able to intervene immediately -- either by having the students gather their class materials (ISN, textbook, notes, etc...) and complete an Assessment Correction Form on the spot or by calling them into tutorials that same day or the next day (depending on when their class period falls in the daily schedule).  I don't let these weaknesses or misunderstandings last for even 24 hours; they are clarified and corrected almost instantly.       
  2. I don't have to waste class time going over quizzes that the majority of the class did well on.  I am able to address the small handful of students who need intervention and re-teaching.  And because the app does instant "item analysis", I can see what topics need to be addressed as a whole class and thus adjusted next year when I teach this same topic.  Or maybe, I need to work on creating a better quiz question if a majority of my students were confused by something.  For example, on the Item Analysis below, I can quickly see that I need to take a closer look at question #4.  Only 69% of students chose C, the correct answer.  But 37 students chose D.  Was this a misconception that needs to be addressed or a poor question?  By having this data available to me instantly, I am able to spend a little extra time looking back at the quiz to figure out why so many chose D.   

  3. It uses an app on my cell phone and who doesn't have that in their hand at all times?!?!  Exactly - super convenient.    
  4. You don't have to collect all of the assessments, walk across campus hoping that there isn't a long line waiting to use the scantron grading machine.  You simply take a picture of the student's answer document within the app and it grades it for you immediately.  I quickly verify that the pic wasn't blurry and that the student didn't make any silly bubbling errors and then I show the student how they did.  My students know that if they make below a 70, they must immediately do corrections.  It goes without saying at this point in the year.  

  5. This image is stored in the app in case I never need to look back at it.  I've had several cases of dishonesty this year (with middle school students, who knew!?!?).  Students would bring their quiz up to me, swearing that B was bubbled in and they didn't know why they got it wrong.  I was able to pull up the scanned image and show them that they in fact bubbled A, but had since changed their answer - dishonesty...NOT COOL!  But it was funny to see their face when they knew they didn't have a case to plead at that point.  
  6. There are many answer documents to choose from for free on the website.  Click here to check them out.  But since the majority of the time, I am using ZipGrade for short quizzes, I created an answer document that has 4 to a page to save paper.  You can download it for free by clicking here.  After I scan their answer document, students know to immediately staple it to the top left corner of their quiz.  
  7. The price can't be beat!  Trust me... it is totally worth the $6.99 for the entire year with unlimited scanning.  

Students who need intervention are no longer slipping through the cracks.  My instruction is adjusted immediately.  It saves me time because it grades the quizzes for me and aggregates the data, which frees me up to focus on ways to improve instruction in real time.

If you have a strategy that has transformed your classroom and made you a more effective teacher, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.  

Here's a quick intro video for ZipGrade.  If you need help on setting up ZipGrade for your classes, there are a bunch of helpful How-To videos on YouTube.  Just type "ZipGrade" in the search box.

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