January 26th, 2017

Literature Teacher Makes the Abstract Measurable with GradeCam

To say that GradeCam has made my life easier as a teacher is an understatement.

Hey everyone! My name is Randy Norman, and I am a 9th grade literature teacher who has the pleasure of working at Eastside High School in Covington, Georgia. In addition to teaching 9th grade lit, I am also a Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer who gets to travel the country teaching teachers how Microsoft products can help them in their classrooms.

However, there is one program that I consistently use that is not part of the Microsoft brand: GradeCam.

As an English teacher, I am a big fan of formative assessments. My class hinges on the abstract, and this abstract can be hard to measure in terms of learned knowledge.

“I have found a way to make formative assessments quick, pain-free, and authentic.”

Well, I should say it can be hard to measure on large summative tests where the content is smashed together with ten other concepts. Because of this, I heavily rely on formative assessments to guide my lessons.

I try to give 2-3 formative assessments a week. Now, I know what you are thinking. I promise you; I have not lost my mind! I have simply found a way to make formative assessments quick, pain-free, and authentic.

GradeCam, if you are not aware, is a program that allows you to scan answer sheets into your computer using a document camera. Here are some of the highlights:

  • You can use pretty much any document camera.
  • They have a phone app that uses your camera to scan!! ☺
  • You can fix answers if a student marked more than one.
  • I can scan 30-50 answer sheets in a minute or two.
  • I can automatically send the results to my district’s grading software (Infinite Campus).
  • I get automatic results of how my students did.
  • I get a breakdown of how each question was answered.
  • I can attach numerous standards to numerous questions.

I could go on and on. But, because of GradeCam, I am able to quickly give formative assessments during the opening of a class, and I can scan them at the end of the day to see how well my kids understand what we are covering.

Since I can see all the data in class view or student view, I can quickly make corrections to my lessons. I also make my formative assessments truly formative by not grading them, but they know if they slack off, I will count theirs as a grade ☺

“I use the data I get from GradeCam to push my instruction.”

I’ve tried ZipGrade, and I have even tried the good ol’ Scantron, but neither are as user-friendly or as quick as GradeCam. I found ZipGrade to be much more frustrating than GradeCam.

I have used GradeCam to give my weekly SAT vocabulary quizzes; I have also used it to grade my self-made midterms.

I gave my students a 150 multiple choice midterm, and I was able to grade all of them in under 3 minutes (a class of 30). Now, I did not tell them that it was not for a grade, but they didn’t need to know ☺

Whenever I hear about teachers struggling with grading, I always point them to GradeCam. Using the phone app alone is reason to try it. I can walk around the class and grade them as they finish – talk about convenient!

I use the data I get from GradeCam to push my instruction. Below is a picture of the “data” board in my room. I have been tracking my vocabulary results from class-to-class and week-to-week. This is one of the ways to view GradeCam results. I really can’t explain what “standard deviation” is, but it gives that too!

On my website, I list GradeCam is one of my ‘must haves’ in my classroom.

I think that pretty much says it all.


Randy Norman is a 9th Grade Literature teacher and Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer. When not teaching or training teachers, he loves to watch horror movies, go on cruises, travel, and play husband and dad for his wife and two children, Harper and Jack. You can connect with Randy on Twitter or his website.