May 31st, 2019

Government Teacher Never Takes Home Papers to Grade

American Government teacher Mike Kearney has a unique philosophy of classroom management.

Mike Kearney headshot - Teacher saves 10+ hours a week using GradeCamMike is a unique teacher. He teaches 12th-grade American Government at Palo Verde High Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona. At 69 years of age, he is in his 17th year of teaching after working in business management for 25 years. He uses his knowledge of time efficiency and workflow from the business world and applies it to the classroom.“Teaching has kept me young,” says Kearney.

Selling Students on Learning

Mike’s students notice the difference in his classroom from the start. He “sells” the kids on working hard in the classroom on day one.

“You’re not doing work for nothing in my class. Everything you do, you’ll get credit for,” says Kearney.


Everything the students do in the classroom is given a point value. Credit is given for bell work, class work, exit tickets, assignments, quizzes, and in-class activities.

Instant Score Keeping with GradeCam

How does he keep track of all those points? In a word: GradeCam.

“I would quit tomorrow if they took GradeCam away from me.”


GradeCam empowers teachers to quickly and easily customize, score, and record assessments – without special forms, equipment or buy in. Teachers like Mike can use our easy online grader to score assessments in an instant by scanning them with any web camera, iPhone or Android device.

Then, teachers have all the data at their fingertips! They can view detailed reports of class or student progress, and transfer grades instantly to any electronic gradebook.


Grading Station Synergy

Mike takes has a variety of scannable forms he uses with the students throughout the class period. He even says that using GradeCam helps him learn students’ names within the first two weeks.

He has a grading station set up with a document scanner and computer.

“It’s good for students to get up and out of their seats. It keeps their brain and their bodies active.”


When students scan their forms, their names pop up on the screen. The repetition of seeing the student’s names paired with their faces several times per day helps him learn their names fast – building trust more quickly.


Making Scanning Fun

To further encourage the students, Mike makes scanning fun. GradeCam has a built-in beep sound indicating a form is scanned. This sound is customizable and Mike chose a cash register “cha-ching” sound. He tells them to:

“Come on up and get free money!”


Student See Grades in Real-Time

The students can’t get enough of the instant results and grade updates. Mike uses GradeCam quick key to transfer his grades into his gradebook at the end of each class. If for some reason he doesn’t have a chance by the end of the day, students will accost him when coming in the next morning. “Hey, my points aren’t in there from yesterday!”

Students want to see their progress in real-time. Like checking the rankings of their favorite sports teams, they are motivated by seeing their stats after every class.


Working Towards No Homework

Mike works in a Title One school where on average only 30% of the students turn in homework. Instead of trying to fight that trend, Mike created an incentive with in-class work. If his students are engaged and complete the in-class activities, they don’t have assigned homework.

This creates an environment where everyone is on task every minute in class. He says whenever the principal comes in for observation, he’s always impressed with how all the students are completely engaged.


Saving 12 Hours-a-Week Grading!

Between bell work, vocabulary, quizzes, homework, assignments, tests and projects, Mike racks up a whopping 150 scores in his gradebook each semester. With 120 students, that’s 18,000 scores!! There is no way a teacher could keep up with all that by manual data entry. As Mike says:

“I didn’t sign up to be a data entry clerk.”


He calculated that he saves 12 hours per week in grading, alphabetizing, and manually entering scores.


Weighing Credit Scores

Once Mike collects all these scores, he transfers the point score to gradebook.

He would like to emphasize the importance of weighing using a “weighted/composite” grading system if you include credit work in your grading. Otherwise, the credit work will be overvalued because there are so many credit assignments compared to assessments.


His weighted grading system:

  • Bell Work – 10%
  • Homework/Vocabulary – 10%
  • Quizzes – 20%
  • Assignments – 30%
  • Tests/Projects – 30%


Teachers can pick their own categories and appropriate weights for the type of credit and assessments they administer. This is what his gradebook looks like with two weeks left in the second semester:

Category Values

He says this system increases the validity of all data and decreases the number of student and parent complaints. The principal is also excited about this system because teachers using GradeCam get their grades in on time!


More Students Without More Grading

In fact, Mike is saving so much time using GradeCam, he agreed to take on another class next year of the same subject. He says whether he has 120 students or 150, he doesn’t spend any additional time grading, it’s only additional class time for him. He also doesn’t need the help of teaching aides.

“It doesn’t matter how many students you have, it takes the same amount of time with GradeCam.”


Final Grades Before the Bell

The grand finale of the year is using GradeCam to grade his finals. With 40 questions graded by GradeCam, the students see their class final grade before they walked out of the classroom the last day of school!


If you’d like to create a classroom environment around immediate results and motivated students, sign up for a free GradeCam account in the box below.