October 6th, 2016

My Summer with Gifted Students and GradeCam

GradeCam is one of the tools that made my summer teaching session possible. I teach an Anatomy & Physiology accelerated program to the top 10-percent of high school students in Atlanta Public Schools.

Teaching to the top 10-percent of any student body can be daunting during the regular school year, let alone during the summer when a year’s worth of information is condensed to a 5-week course. Even though it’s a voluntary program, the expectations on the teachers are more demanding because you see the same students for 8-hour days, five days a week.

Examples of Student Capstone Projects

Grading Gifted Students’ Work
Since all the students in my summer program are gifted, grading their work is a bit different than general student work. Many of the answers are correct. If and when an answer is wrong, the students want an explanation as to why it’s wrong.

Oftentimes when I entered the classroom, before I could even put away my purse or turn on the board, I would have at least four students ask if the homework from the night before was graded and what they scored. This is on homework!

When they took assessments, they wanted to know the grade within the hour – complete with explanation and remediation suggestions. Using GradeCam, I could keep up with the assessment data. Never would I have been able to if I had to compile and analyze the data by hand. I know that sounds like a plug, but it isn’t.

Students Respond to GradeCam
Before I introduced GradeCam, students would complete their tests and start working on their capstone projects. However, learning I was going to scan their tests with my phone to grade it instantly created a palpable excitement in my classroom.

Students wanted to not only scan the test themselves but they also wanted me to tell their teachers at their schools about GradeCam – which made me chuckle. They wanted their teachers to use GradeCam to get their grades back sooner.

The swift delivery of their scores helped students direct their studies and helped me with re-delivery. It also helped calm some students’ anxiety because they didn’t have to “wonder” how they did on a test.

I found it great to be able to export the grades elsewhere for later examination. I loathe pivot tables and generally stay far away from Excel, but with GradeCam I didn’t have to fear data.

I found that data is beautiful and I could instantly share stats with other educators and have informed discussions about the standards I was teaching.

I also felt as if I had a better understanding of my students. I was able to see what they saw, without failing to keep things confidential. I was able to say: “Hey, perhaps I messed up in my wording.” Or: “Maybe I need to redeliver that section as several students didn’t quite get it.”

Above is the final exam. I would not have nearly as many A’s if I had to spend copious amounts of time examining where “things went wrong” or where a breakdown in communication occurred.

I would not have been able to keep up with the demands of an accelerated course and students who took full ownership of their grades without GradeCam. As a result of my efforts, I feel I was better equipped to handle data and drive instruction where it mattered most.

GradeCam was and is a life saver!

My Summer with Gifted Students and GradeCam

Stephanie Jones is the science department chair at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. She also teaches for the Summer Math & Science Enrichment Academy (SMSEA) of Atlanta Public Schools. When she’s not grading papers or instructing, she enjoys reading science fiction novels, gardening and travel.