Do you feel like you’re drowning in marking?
Do you look at a pile of multiple choice tests and groan at the thought of marking each one of them—A, B, C, or D?
These tests, book reports, essays, and paragraphs all pile up on your desk until it’s a fire hazard and your own life is all but swallowed.
If you’re like me, marking overload happens throughout the year, but especially around report card time.
Here in Canada, report cards comments and pre-exam grades are due on Monday. So, Friday was stay-at-school-till-9pm-marking-and-eating-pizza-day!
Even after marking for hours in the staff room on Friday, writing report card comments, and numbing my sorrows with pizza, diet coke, and cinnamon sticks, I still brought marking home.
I hate to complain. I love my job. But I hate marking.
In the first few years of my teaching career, I worked hard on improving my classroom management and my lesson planning. And my research made a huge difference. I am not a whipping girl of any classes. I’m pleased with my students’ results.
This next school year, my # 1 goal is to cut down my marking time by at least 50%. I will not mark away my weekends.
If you and I continue marking and lesson planning all Sunday every Sunday, I know we will become a statistic – between 40%-50% of teachers burn out and leave teaching, and for most of them, excessive workload is the primary cause.
So, when a teacher at my school told me about Zip Grade—a software that transformed her cell phone into a multiple-choice test scanner and marker she claimed marked her tests in minutes—I scrambled to get it. I’m so excited to share it with you because it made me so happy to mark those 63 multiple choice tests within 6 minutes (I timed myself—this same marking would usually have taken me 45 minutes at least!).
WHAT YOU NEED TO USE ZIP GRADE
Zip Grade is a free iPad or iPhone app teachers use to mark multiple choice tests quickly. All that you need to use Zip Grade is an iPhone or iPad, an internet connection, and a printer.
HOW TO USE ZIP GRADE: STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS
- Sign up to Zip Grade online and make an account using your email.
- Set up your classes. Click on “Classes” at the top of the screen, and you will see a screen like the one below. Then click the “Add New Classes” Add all the classes in which you might assign multiple choice tests.
3. Add your students. Now that you’ve set up your classes, you can add individual student names into the database and assign these students to the right classes. To add students, open your Power School attendance lists, and on Zip Grade click on the “Students” tab at the top of the site screen. You will see a screen like the one below. Click on “Add New Student” from the menu. Add each student, filling in each student’s information and assigning him or her to the correct class.
**Zip Grade gives you the option to upload a class list of names in a CSV (Excel) file, so if you have your students’ names in an Excel file, go ahead and upload it. I couldn’t find a way to download my attendance lists from Power School in CSV format, so I typed in each student’s name one at a time.
- Print enough Zip Grade test sheets for your next multiple choice quizzes. At the top of the Zip Grade site, click on “Answer Sheets.” You will see a screen like the one below. Download and print the appropriate 20, 50, or 100 question answer sheets for your students to use. I have also posted the answer sheets for you to download just below this screenshot.
- Prepare your iPhone/iPad to be a multiple choice test marking machine. On your iPad or iPhone, visit the App Store, search for Zip Grade, and download it onto your device.
- Enter in the answers for your multiple choice quizzes on the Zip Grade app. When you have the app open, click on the “Quizzes” option. At the top right, you will see the “New” tab— touch it. Create a new quiz, give it a name, and assign it to a class or classes. Open “Select Answer Sheet” and choose the answer sheet you intend to use with the test (20, 50, or 100 questions). Click on “Edit Key.” You will see a screen with an answer key for your exam—go ahead and touch the screen to put in the correct answers. Now you have the answer key for your quiz on your phone. Go ahead and put all your quizzes and answer keys in using the same steps.
- Prepare your students to use the Zip Grade answer key for the next test. Days before the test—or just before the test, if you prefer—you will need to supply each student with his or her own Zip Grade student ID. Students will need to input their student ID’s on their Zip Grade answer sheets so that the software can easily sort and record their results. When ready to give out your student ID’s, log in to Zip Grade on your computer. Click on the “Students” You will see a list of your students’ names with their 4-5 digit Zip Grade ID’s on the right-hand side of the screen (see picture below). Tell each student his or her ID and ask him or her to write down the ID for future reference.
- Administer the tests. On test day, as students enter the classroom, give each one a Zip Grade answer sheet (the ones you printed). Have them fill out their information at the top of the answer sheets. Instruct them to enter their unique Zip Grade ID’s into the upper left-hand corner of the answer sheet. Once you have checked their answer sheets, hand out the test questions and get ready to collect the tests and the answer sheets.
- Mark the tests using your iPad/iPhone. Take all the student answer sheets and open the Zip Grade app on your phone. On the app, open to the quiz you are marking. Open the “Scan Papers” option with the camera icon. Allow Zip Grade to access your camera. One by one, place the student answer keys on a table under your iPhone’s camera, align the 4 dots on the Zip Grade page with the 4 Zip Grade dots on your iPhone screen, and wait for Zip Grade to “mark” your answer sheet with a scan. You will know the test in front of you has been marked when you see a student’s name appear on the screen with a grade. Once you see the test has been marked, mark the next test until you are done the whole pile!
- Check the test results on ZipGrade.com. To see how your students performed, log in to your Zip Grade account online. Click on the “Quizzes” Click on the quiz title you just marked. You will see the results for all the students in all classes who wrote that quiz. To see the results for just one class, click on the “Filter for [class name]” option at the top of the screen (see picture below)
- Input grades into Power School. Open your Power School grade book and use the scores on Zip Grade to fill in your test results. Leave school an hour earlier!
With Zip Grade, I’ve put a serious dent in my marking time. But this is just one battle in a war against marking. Just like I did with classroom management and lesson planning, I know I’ll master my marking workload this year.
Care to join me? Sign up to my weekly newsletter on my “About” page.
The school year is almost over. We will make it. Have a great week!