I got 100% positive feedback when I surveyed my students at the end of the year. I never would have believed it if you had told me that was going to happen. I give the credit to my pace learning method and GradeCam.
Hi, I’m Andrew.
I teach mathematics at a high school in New Zealand. In February 2015, I wanted to start a project where students could learn and test at their own pace. I had been making videos and doing flipped learning methods (where students watch instruction videos at home and put the instruction into practice in the classroom) for awhile with my YouTube channel and wanted to tie the whole thing together.
I received a grant from the Ministry of Education to allow me extra time to research and implement my ideas. The main tool that was instrumental in making this happen was (and is) GradeCam. I used GradeCam in my previous teaching position in California and decided it was one tool I had to take with me.
At first I was not sure how this project would progress with my students. What if they didn’t want to advance? I was conducting the trial with a class that had low mathematical skills, poor attendance and behavioral issues. This radical new approach for them could have backfired and I would have had to resort to the traditional method of everyone trying to be at the same level.
The Pace Learning Process
The students could take the “Pace Tests” whenever they felt ready. These were a 10-question multiple choice test (that I created) on the applications of one mathematical skill. If they got 80-percent or better they could advance to the next skill. If not, they would continue to practice at that level.
These tests were graded, recorded and analyzed with GradeCam. I kept track of all the students’ scores on an Excel spreadsheet. I used the GradeCam hotkey function (F8) to automatically transfer the scores. No drama there!
To my surprise, this caught on like a house on fire with my students. They actually wanted to advance and wanted to correct their mistakes. If I planned a day to teach a lesson, take notes or some other activity, they wanted to take a Pace Test instead. Tick the box for increased self-motivation!
For students who had very little success in mathematics prior, they were slowly becoming aware of their achievements and momentum was building to learn more.
Challenges Along the Way
Since this was the first time implementing something like this at Waimea College – or New Zealand for that matter – there were some teething problems that I had to manage. One of them was class behavior. Remember this was a group of students of which some had a rather interesting track record!
Many times the class would be very dynamic and the average noise level could be a bit louder than I was used to. However, my teacher aide and I agreed that as long as they were doing math and it was “positive noise,” the loudness was much better than apathetic silence.
Students Sing Praises
At the end of 2015, I gave a survey to my students about the Pace Learning Method. I wanted to know what they thought of this style of learning and using GradeCam to keep track of their achievement. Here’s what they had to say:
“I love the pace tests because we get to work at our own level.”
“Pace tests have really helped me with my math because it is multiple choice. I feel more confident about trying harder things.”
“We can go at our own pace. It’s great.”
“I think the pace tests have helped me learn my basic math skills.”
“It builds our confidence back up.”
“I think my math has really improved.”
The responses were 100 percent positive. I have been teaching 16 years and I have never had an entire class say they enjoy taking tests. I was stoked to say the least!
The student’s feedback motivated me to apply for another study grant for 2016. I am happy to report that I was awarded another grant and am now using the Pace Learning Method in other classes.
I would like to give a huge thanks to the people at GradeCam, especially Debbie Delaney, who have helped me along in my journey. Hopefully it is just the beginning.
Andrew Ricciardi has been teaching for 16 years and has been using GradeCam with his classes for 3 years. Andrew teaches Year 10 and Year 12 Mathematics at Waimea College in Richmond, New Zealand. Originally from California, he enjoys making math videos and is an avid runner. His wife teaches performing arts and they have two daughters who are 8 and 11 years old.