According to their website, Grade Cam is "online software that allows teachers to scan grades directly into the gradebook that they are already using." Today was my first day "test driving" GradeCam. I chose one of my English I classes to be my guinea pigs, figuring that if it didn't work well, I wouldn't have invested too much time. I used the free software, along with a Scantron-type bubble sheet that I printed off the website, and an inexpesive webcam that I already had in my classroom. Total cost: FREE. With Gradecam, students were able to scan their own quizzes when they were finished, and get instant feedback, including their overall score, and a list of questions that they missed. Grades were immediately recorded for me in a GradeCam account. I haven't figured out how to upload grades into my school's program yet, but the company claims that it can do just that--amazing! One feature that I like about this software is that, as a teacher, I can go back and view an itemized list of test scores, showing me which questions students missed the most and showing me the frequency of each answer option. This can help me see what concepts I need to review further, or what questions on the test are "bad" questions that confused students and might need to be reworded. Overall, GradeCam is priced just right (free) and is relatively easy to use. My students liked the immediate feedback, and I liked the in-depth results analysis. Now, if only Grade Cam could grade my persuasive essays...
The Vu Point Scanner Wand is perfect for scanning documents and images on the go. They are completely cordless, so you don't have to worry about a USB connection or an electrical outlet. Images are saved to an SD memory card that can later be read by your computer (you will probably need a cheap SD card reader). My district has recently purchase a few of these scanners, and the teachers who have used them seem to really like the ease of use, as well as the picture quality. They especially like the fact that these wands are completely portable; some devices are such a hassle to set up that they never get used, but that is not the case with these scanners. They are available at numerous retail locations and online, and are generally priced just under $100.
Jessica Pilgreen is a high school English teacher, a Piasa Bluffs Writing Project fellow, and a technology enthusiast. The main purpose of this blog is to help her keep track of all of the fabulous tools out there that she has encountered, but if she can help a few others along the way, that's good, too.