Quick Grading with QuickKey

Together with my third-graders (12/13y), I tested an innovative way to grade multiple choice quizzes today: QuickKey. I’ve come across quite a few applications like this one (e.g. ZipGrade); however, they’ve always been relatively pricey with a monthly or yearly fee, which my school wouldn’t have paid in a million years.

The founders of QuickKey say their tool is „a mobile and web app that turns a smart device into a mobile scanner that allows teachers to mark assessments and surveys in seconds, saving teachers ten hours a week and giving them real time data to drive instruction.“ And after testing it today, I have to say that their description seems pretty accurate. This could be a fantastic way to quickly grade quizzes or tests and, if desired, give immediate feedback to the students.

I had created a quick revision quiz about relative pronouns. Today I projected the questions on the board and handed out the students‘ individual answer sheets. After the quiz I scanned their answer sheets in under 1 minute (there are 18 students in this class) and gave them an exact feedback. Simultaneously, the app created a spreadsheet with all the results for me to transfer to my gradebook.

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I love this tool. It’s simple, very straight-forward to use, and free. Supposedly, there’s a paid version to come out in a few weeks. I’m curious as to whether there’ll be a free version then, too. As in Austria funding for these kinds of tools is not possible for public schools, incorporating the digital classroom is a very difficult task, as it depends on the individual willingness of the teacher to spend one’s own money for innovative software.

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There is one point I’d like to add, an idea of a colleague of mine, which I find very beneficial in my case. Student’s commented that it was quite difficult for them to find the correct line and fill in the correct bubble, as I told them they should look really carefully and be aware of the fact that they cannot change their answers. The app simply would not detect the correct answers. Therefore, I think I will laminate the answer sheets (the so-called QuickKeys) for multiple use. The advantage here is that if students use wet-erase markers they can change their answers during the exam, I can still scan the results afterwards and, most positively, I can use the answer sheets again and again. At least in theory, this makes total sense. I’ll get back to that in the coming weeks….

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Realtime Storytelling

Today I want to focus on a different method of introducing realtime storytelling in the English classroom. The internet (social media, specifically) offers an array of options to so. By using twitter, vine, instagram, youtube, flickr, etc. one can experiment a lot, and I’m sure students will find it very interesting to tell stories via such channels.

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However, I’d rather like to focus on another tool which, albeit still being in its beta version, offers a very different and hands-on method to produce personal, original stories: WriteTheScene. Although this is a site which aims to offer „realtime storytelling with strangers“ it can be used in the classroom without any input by people from the outside. By adopting the format of a movie script, students pick a character name, connect with other students and spontaneously create their story, their world, their product.

It is very easy to use and shouldn’t demand a lot of introduction by the teacher. Maybe some basic film vocabulary is helpful (narrative, cut-to, etc.), but I do not think this is essential. Pupils type in their character name, and can then easily create a unique url, which is then shared with another student (a „co-writer“) who joins their „room“.

This could be a great source for those shy pupils we all know, who are not as talkative as their classmates. I suggest using this website in the upper secondary level, maybe as part of a „Wahlpflichtfach“.