A Parents’ Guide to Social Media

Below is the slideshow of my January 13, 2014 presentation “A Parents’ Guide to Social Media” as part of Whitinsville Christian School’s Crusader Series:

Or click here for full screen version


ZipGrade Scantron-Style Grading App

A colleague of mine recently clued me in to ZipGrade which scans and grades multiple-choice bubble tests much like the old Scantron machines used to do except ZipGrade is much better. Here’s how it works:

  • Teachers download and print free test forms from ZipGrade’s website (http://www.zipgrade.com/). There are several options depending on how many questions you need.
  • Students can use pens or pencils to fill out the forms (though they’re going to have a hard time erasing pen).
  • You install the ZipGrade app (available on iOS or Android) on your phone or tablet and create an account. Once the account is set up you create your answer key on the phone and start scanning forms.
  • ZipGrade automatically grades the forms based on the answer key. You can review each student’s score and even view images of the actual tests.

The first 100 scans are free. After that you’ll need to pay a reasonable fee to keep using it. The video below shows how slick and easy the system is to use.


Several things really impressed me about ZipGrade.  First of all it’s really fast and easy to use. Secondly, when I tested it out with with one of my class quizzes, I realized I had my answer key wrong because no one got 100%. I was able to change the key and when I did all the grades were automatically re-scored. Also, the analysis feature is a great tool for checking which questions students struggled the most with.

Multiple choice tests definitely have their limitations but if you need to use them and want to get them graded quickly ZipGrade is the way to do it.

IF-AT Scratch-off Assessment Forms

I first I heard about IF-AT ( Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique”) scratch-off tests from a relative in college. I thought it was an interesting concept so I ordered a batch and used them as part of my Spanish 2 semester exam. IF-AT’s are answer forms for multiple-choice tests. Students scratch off what they think is the best answer much like scratching off a lottery ticket. If the answer is correct, they see a star, providing immediate feedback and reinforcing the material. If there is no star, they know they’ve gotten then answer wrong and need to keep scratching.


After the exam I (and my students) would consider IF-AT a success but there are some issues to consider:


  • Students get immediate feedback on their answers.
  • Correct answers are being reinforced, incorrect answers can be fixed immediately.
  • It’s difficult for a student to get completely off track for a large sections as sometimes happens on multiple choice tests.


  • IF-ATs have all the shortcomings of any multiple choice tests.
  • Students had some initial anxiety and confusion over the new test format.
  • Students only get one chance at full credit for each question; they can’t go back and fix something. Several students came to me explaining they accidentally scratched off the wrong answer; there’s not much a teacher can do in that situation.
  • Since the answers are built-in to the answer form there’s nothing a teacher can do to fix a mistake on the test once it’s distributed. A teacher who’s not really careful will end up reinforcing incorrect answers. (I found out made two mistakes on my 50 question test.)
  • It’s messy.  Every desk had a bunch of silver gray dust on it my the end of the exam.
  • Test forms are only $0.05 each, but that adds up over time.  Also, the minimum order of 500 forms is pretty high.
  • In order to be really valuable you need to offer partial credit for multiple guesses.  That makes for a fairly easy test. It’s much more difficult for a student to fail (although maybe that should be in the “pro” section).
  • They’re not any faster to grade than other multiple choice tests, and may even take longer depending on how you handle partial credit.