October 19th, 2020

GradeCam Teacher Feature: Crystal Olszeski

GradeCam celebrates the educators making a difference day in and day out for their students. Nothing about this school year has been normal, but teachers and administrators are working tirelessly to make sure their students make progress despite the odds. They inspire us. We hope they inspire you too.

Q: Describe your teaching approach and how it has been impacted by remote/hybrid learning.

My teaching approach has always been to provide students with collaborative, hands-on learning. Students learn and best understand science through experimentation, modeling, discussion, and application of what they’ve learned to real-life situations. Remote/hybrid learning has made it a challenge to provide such learning experiences while simultaneously teaching online through Zoom and physically with students in the classroom. I’ve incorporated various technology applications into my lessons to help keep my students engaged, collaborating, and learning. I’ve had to get creative with lessons and activities to include everyone, but on a positive note, hybrid learning has caused me to think outside the box about how to teach science concepts to students.

Q: How were you introduced to GradeCam, and what sold you on it?

One day my principal and lead teacher walked into my classroom on planning day and said, “you have to see this.” They had bubble sheets in their hand, walked over to my laptop, logged into GradeCam, and scanned them all within seconds using my document camera. I was amazed at how quickly it scanned and showed the scores within GradeCam. Then they proceeded to say, “Oh, wait. That’s not all it can do.” Then, with a couple of clicks, they transferred the grades into my gradebook.

I was asked to use it, think about ways various disciplines could utilize it, and share my experience with my colleagues. I did just that and stuck with it because it not only saved me time on the grading and entering grades aspect, but most importantly it gave me a way to provide students with instant feedback.

Q: Do you have any tips for teachers just starting to use GradeCam?

If you are just starting to use GradeCam, I would first use it for quizzes or other multi-question assignments, because you are simply creating your key in GradeCam, attaching standards (if desired), and it is graded instantly. This permits a fast, efficient way to grade and provide your students with feedback on their assignment/assessment. Another assignment that you can create quickly and use is the observational form. This allows you to create “Labels” at the top of your column(s) and record handwritten scores for an assignment. Then you can scan quickly, preferably with your phone camera through the app, and your scores are in GradeCam to view and transfer within minutes.

Once you are familiar with the assignments you can create and the various data reports available, you will see how it can improve feedback and assessment in the classroom. That timely feedback is essential to students and teachers.

Q: What role does data play in your school and how do you leverage it to inform what you do in the classroom?

Data plays a big role in my school. We have department PLC meetings where we look at and discuss how students do on curriculum standards for teachers of the same discipline. We have common assessments that are shared in GradeCam that allow us to look at individual teacher’s data, as well as that of all teachers collectively.

The various reports that are available in GradeCam make it easy to get data in your preferred view… overall score, score by standard, average score by standard assessed through multiple assignments, and question-by-question analysis.

Q: What has kept you motivated as a teacher since the start of COVID-19?

I got into education to make a difference in students’ lives and share my passion for science, That and reading Jon Gordon’s books, The GardenThe Coffee Bean, and The Energy Bus has kept me motivated. Now more than ever, students are seeking to feel connected to school and their teachers. They are missing school as we knew it prior to Covid-19, and have been struggling for many reasons since the start of the pandemic. While teaching virtually has been the biggest challenge in my 15 years of teaching, I give it my all every day.

I try to help students who are disengaged and struggling with distance learning any way I can. “Every student, every day” is the motto of our administration and staff this year.

Q: What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

I love helping students understand science and gain confidence in their ability to be successful. When students get a tough science concept and have that “aha moment,” and you see how excited they are about it, that is what makes this job so rewarding. When students come up to you the following year, or years down the road, and say “Thank you Mrs. O for always believing in me and pushing me to do my best…” or a member of the football team gives you a thank you letter and their jersey to wear for the pep rally out of appreciation… moments like those are the reason that I do what I do.

Educator on Social Media:
Jon Gordon (Author)

GradeCam Question Type:

GradeCam Feature:
Student Portal

GradeCam Report:
Standards overview for multiple assignments using the “Drill Into” feature.

Lunch Item:
Zucchini Sticks with Ranch Dressing

Memory from when you were your students’ age:
Winning the district title 3 out of 4 years for softball in high school.

Favorite Quote:
“Life is 10% what happens and 90% of how you react to it.”