Friday, November 21, 2014

Mobile Scanner and the Feedback Loop

Walter Duncan is a 15-year veteran K-12 teacher. His students were ranked in the top 15% of all Massachusetts Public School students on MCAS ELA in 2012. He has deep experience getting the best out of his kids in inner-city school districts such as Detroit, Washington DC, and Boston. Additionally he is the co-founder of Design By Educators the makers of the Quick Key Mobile app, a social impact company that seeks to empower teachers to more effectively close the achievement gap. The free Open Beta version of the Quick Key is available on the Quick Key Homepage. 

Mobile Scanner and the Feedback Loop

I love feedback when it is positive, when it is what I want to hear. Who doesn't like to hear "you're a great teacher" or "your students scored exceptionally well on their standardized tests."  However, the most powerful feedback is that which is constructive and corrective. The problem is, I find myself being defensive when hearing corrective feedback. My ego gets in the way. When my admin says, "great class Walter, but you need to improve your paperwork and data tracking", I respond from a defensive posture, thinking to myself "you could not manage this classroom, how can you tell me anything." This is the wrong way to handle corrective feedback, yet it is the knee jerk reaction that I, and so many other adults, have. And if we as adults struggle with this, imagine how our kids feel.

As I think about it I notice a pattern, when I was in the classroom I would focus on each area of student work that needed correction, explicitly. I would take the time to explain why something needed to be improved and how to improve it. But I would give much less attention the student's success, never focusing enough on how and why they were successful at something. It is no wonder that they get defensive, if I am giving the lion's share of the attention to their shortcomings. There is as much to learn from how something was done correctly as there is to learn from something done incorrectly. As teachers we need to balance our focus on both, this is not a call to praise when a student meets basic expectations, but a call to instruct from what was done excellently as well as what was done poorly.

This is on my mind as my formative assessment app Quick Key Mobile, a mobile scanner has just released updates and new features. We make it our central focus, to hear all feedback, take it to heart and incorporate it into our app. We believe giving teachers a full voice in everything we do helps us make a tool that gives teachers the story of their day's lesson in the form of easy to access data, and allows them to give that feedback to their students.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Answer Sheets, Multiple Choice Answer Sheets? The Art of Teaching is About So Much More!


Walter Duncan is a 15-year veteran K-12 teacher. His students were ranked in the top 15% of all Massachusetts Public School students on MCAS ELA in 2012. He has deep experience getting the best out of his kids in inner-city school districts such as Detroit, Washington DC, and Boston. Additionally he is the co-founder of Design By Educators the makers of the Quick Key Mobile app, a social impact company that seeks to empower teachers to more effectively close the achievement gap. The free Open Beta version of the Quick Key is available on the Quick Key Homepage.

The Art of Teaching

They gave her a script! All I could do was shake my head. The pressure to perform on high stakes tests has gotten to the point that teachers are being given scripts to teach from. This is a travesty. As I thought about this I could only arrive at the conclusion that those who make these decisions simply do not understand teaching.

In my experience, excellent teaching is comprised of two very important parts (in truth it is more complicated, but let's just keep it simple for now). The first is content, a teacher must understand the content and earnestly endeavor to employ a variety of methods to help students master it. That being said, technology is now available that will always be able to give students access to more content than one individual teacher could ever hope to. And teachers are evolving, shepherding students to resources and helping them to gain mastery over the opportunities that new technology provides.

The Art of Inspiration 

There is, however, a part of teaching that no technology will ever be able to replace. It is the art of inspiration. It is impossible to teach in a training course, it can't be gained from a new miracle method. Quite simply, the dedicated teacher develops this through trial and error. The veteran teachers can guide rookie teachers in finding their authentic way of inspiring students. It is intangible, it is special, it is magical. It is why you remember the teacher that changed your life (shout out to John Sbordone!). It is what you do at that moment when you help a student face a life crisis by just listening, or when you chastise a student for not performing up to their potential. It cannot be measured in a new fangled evaluation rubric, and a teaching script is its death nell.

Why We Created Quick Key 

All of the above being said, we still feel the pressure. The students must perform, the rubrics must be filled out, the appetite of the evaluators must be satiated. But I will not turn my classroom into a fear of failure based worksheet factory. I created Quick Key so teachers could have access to and track formative data that they could use to support their out of the box teaching practices. When data exists that can back up the wacky and wild ways that educators find to inspire and educate their students, everyone's needs can be met. I can have the freedom to teach, and at the same time have clear measures of student progress toward the standards. Let us marry data with the art of teaching to the benefit of our students. We must teach inspired!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Are You Using the Right Quick Ticket?

Greetings Quick Key Mobile User Community,

We are writing to make an apology, we made a few mistakes in our rush to update the app with a new and improved scanner. The mistakes are small, and as long as you follow our instructions you should be good to go. We thank you for your patience with our beta and for your steadfast support in helping us get the word out about our app. More people are using Quick Key than ever before and we are well on our way to our goal of 100k users by January first.

If you are having issues with the new scanner please check out this list, if after checking these things you are still having an issue, please send us a support ticket and we will get it straightened out for you right away.

1. "My Ticket Wont Scan At All" Please make sure you are using the right Quick Ticket, the one with the 4 digit student ID that is pictured above. We accidentally included the future 10 digit ID ticket in the mobile app, and you receive that incorrect ticket if you email yourself a Quick Ticket. The 10 digit Ticket is for customizable student IDs, but it is not yet ready for use. If you are using the 10 digit student ID ticket Quick Key will not scan it.

2. "I scan with my iPad all the time, but since the update it will no longer scan" Please move the iPad a bit closer when scanning than in the past. Make sure the green brackets are around the student name box and the answer boxes and it should scan fine.

3. "I added students on my device and they have student ID numbers above 4 , but on the 4 digit student ID ticket there is no place for numbers higher than 4?" Please create your students on the web and not on the device, we accidentally included the code in the app for customized 10 digit IDs. Here is a quick tutorial on adding students all at once on the Quick Key website, it is really much faster and easier than doing it on the device:

On a final note, we are a teacher founded company, and we are so grateful for all of your support and help. We deeply apologize for these hiccups and will have an update with the fixes as soon as possible.

With deep gratitude,
The Quick Key Team

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Update to Quick Key Mobile 3.0 for iOS - Delete and Re-Install

This is an important announcement for anybody who wants to update to the new Quick Key Mobile v3.0 for iOS devices

Yesterday we updated Quick Key Mobile app for iOS on the iTunes iPhone App Store. However, because of a change we were forced to make (by Apple) to the login process on the mobile app, you may have trouble starting Quick Key Mobile on your iOS device after you install the update.

New User Registration and Password Resets must now be done at

THANKS and I hope you enjoy your new experience with Quick Key Mobile 3.0!!

CEO, Quick Key Mobile

Thursday, October 23, 2014

End of Quarter Grades Are Due, Let My Teachermade App Quick Key Mobile Help!

October 2014 
October Brings End of the Quarter Testing, and Quick Key Mobile Can Help!

Quick Key Mobile turns your mobile device into a scanner and eliminates hand-grading of paper assessments, even for teachers working in classrooms without a computer or an internet connection. Analytics and data exports are fast and easy, so you can focus on your students.

Teachers Click Here to Download Quick Key Mobile for Free
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Quick Key Mobile Co-Founder Walter Duncan, with his son.
It Is the End of the Quarter, Let Quick Key Mobile Help!

Greetings friends and colleagues,

The end of the quarter is upon us! How time flies, just yesterday teachers were learning student names and establishing routines. Now grades are due, benchmarks must be analyzed, and comments must be entered.

Let Quick Key help you shoulder the load! You can use Quick Key Mobile to save time and get immediate data from your multiple choice asessments, you can then use that data to drive your instruction in real time. Best of all it is FREE!

What you get:  
  • Save 10 Hours a Week
  • Unlimited Free Scanning
  • Scan and Score Paper Quizzes with your Mobile Device
  • Easy Data Export
  • Works With or Without the Internet 
Notes From the Quick Key 
Mobile Classroom
Teachers, are you using the right data to drive instruction? Check out our post on Micro-Data, for ways to improve student performance without teaching to a test!
Click Here to Read Micro-Data 

Our users have spoken and they love Quick Key Mobile. Listen to what they have to say! Click here to view their video!

Use this Quick Start tutorial, to begin saving time and using data to drive your instruction right now. Click Here for the Tutorial!
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Please Help Me Get The Word Out!

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