Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Custom Student IDs on Quick Key Mobile!

We are changing the way Quick Key Mobile handles student IDs to make it easier for you to work with colleagues and share students within the app.

The new system will allow you to use your students' existing ID number - anything up to 10 digits - instead of having to use a system-generated 4-digit ID. Expect to see the new system within the web app, on the phone, and on our new Quick Tickets, before July 10, 2014.

We will be posting more information about how to use the new system (the old 4-digit IDs will continue to work) right here.

This feature was built thanks to feedback from our users. So please keep the suggestions coming! We want to make Quick Key the best possible tool for teachers.

Thanks!
-isaac

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

@4_teachers and Quick Key Mobile at #ISTE2014


Tweet @4_teachers at #ISTE2014

I am looking forward to joining my teacher colleagues and Quick Key Mobile users this weekend at #ISTE2014. This will be my first time attending such a conference, and I must admit it is a bit daunting. There are so many people I want to meet, so much I want to learn and share.

If you are at #ISTE2014 and you know the ropes, tweet me some tips. If you just want to say hi, tweet @4_teachers and we will find each other. I am looking forward to learning and sharing with all of you!

Best,

Walter

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Top Ten S'Cool Tools -Via Edsurge


Quick Key Mobile Made The Top Ten!


Quick Key is honored to be ranked number 6 on Edsurge's Top Ten S'cool Tools in quarter two of 2014. This honor is shared by all the members of our Quick Key community, in schools and in Social Media that help us to share Quick Key with teachers and institutions everyday. Thank you Edsurge, and thank you Quick Key community!

Check out the article below:

Every week, EdSurge delivers its educator-specific INSTRUCT newsletter with a section on “S’Cool Tools,” calling attention to 3-5 edtech tools we’ve found, tested, and given our surging seal of approval. And out of 50+ S’Cool Tools showcased in INSTRUCT during Q2 (April, May, and June), ten products have risen to the top based on the number of clicks they’ve received from our INSTRUCT readers. Check them out below!"

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Starbucks to Provide Free College Education to Thousands of Workers

Monica Almeida/The New York Times


Does Starbucks Care More about the future of American Education than the Department of Ed?


The news has broken, Starbucks will support college education for its employees! According to Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times, "Starbucks will provide a free online college education to thousands of its workers, without requiring that they remain with the company, through an unusual arrangement with Arizona State University, the company and the university will announce on Monday."

How can it be so easy for Starbucks to ensure a free college education for employees, while our nation straddles worthy students with mountains of debt? The evidence is clear about the difference in earning power between those with a degree versus those without. Why can't our nation figure out how to do this? How can a coffee company care more about the future of our citizenry than our Department of Education? I am completely baffled. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Taking on Teacher Tenure Backfires


We Need More Teacher Voices 

California's teacher tenure laws have been struck down. According to Jesse Rothstein of the New York Times, "In short, while the notion of 'clearing the stables' of bad teachers seems attractive, it is almost impossible to get right in practice. No conceivable system can eliminate all 'grossly ineffective' teachers, and efforts aimed at doing so can do more harm than good."

From my perspective, based on fifteen years of classroom experience, the vast majority of teachers care deeply about their students. The majority of teachers are more concerned about removing bad teachers from the classroom, then the general public. Yet where are the teacher's voices in the decision making process? Again, as is par for the course, the most important decisions about education are being made by those with the least understanding.

What can a judge know about managing an overcrowded classroom, with students below grade level, and no administrative support. Teachers know how to do this, they do it every day, dedicating their lives to being human band-aids on a broken system. And they don't complain. They accept hungry kids in overcrowded classrooms,  don't make excuses, and they try to get the job done. And even after this ruling, undermined again, still grossly underpaid, they will go back to their classrooms and practice the art of inspiration to change kids lives.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NYT: Stop Holding Us Back

Brian Stauffer

Drop Out Factories


It is no surprise that many students from poverty stricken areas who lack the proper support are dropping out. The schools even have a name, they are called "Drop Out Factories". Yet what is required to support these students is not an enigma. We have already seen how these students from these types of schools are being supported for success on the university level, the blueprint is already there. Why is it important to reach these students? I was recently watching Cosmos, hosted by Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson. He told the story of Michael Farraday, a person raised in immense poverty, who was able to make discoveries that changed the world. How many young people like him are we failing to find when we lose them to these "Drop Out Factories"? What is the cost to the nation and world?

According to Robert Balfanz of the New York Times, "We have also learned that most students who eventually drop out can be identified as early as the sixth grade by their attendance, behavior and course performance, according to studies by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins, where I am the director, and the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Using those indicators, it is possible to identify by the middle of ninth grade virtually everyone who will drop out. These young men are waving their hands early and often to say they need help, but our educational and student-support systems aren’t organized to recognize and respond to their distress signals."

It is clear, we know how to identify at risk young Americans, and we know what interventions work. It is now time to find the collective will to implement them. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NYT: What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

Michael Mabry

In The Age of Technology, the Human Element is More Important than Ever.


According to Maria Konnikova of the New York Times, hand writing is an important part of brain development and literacy. Konnikova states "Cursive or not, the benefits of writing by hand extend beyond childhood. For adults, typing may be a fast and efficient alternative to longhand, but that very efficiency may diminish our ability to process new information. Not only do we learn letters better when we commit them to memory through writing, memory and learning ability in general may benefit."

In the rush to implement technology with younger and younger children, do we run the risk of limiting their critical thinking abilities? What are your thoughts on this article, please comment in the section below.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How to Get Girls Into Coding


Getting Girls to Code


Accordiing to Nitasha Tiku of the New York Times, "A huge nationwide push is underway, funded by the nonprofit Code.org’s corporate and billionaire donors, from Amazon and Google to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, to introduce American schoolchildren to coding and to redefine it as a basic skill to be learned alongside the three R’s. Code.org’s curriculum has been adopted by 20,000 teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade."

Despite this push there is still a dramatic disparity between men and women in the field of coding. According to the Times, "But if coding is the new lingua franca, literacy rates for girls are dropping: Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates — down from 36 percent in 1984."

As educators, we know the importance of role models for students. Teaching is about so much more than just the transmission of information, it is about the art of inspiration. The Times grasps this in the article, "One X factor seems to be the presence of female role models, which can be hard to come by when you’re one of the only girls in your computer science class." It is crucial for us as teachers to be these role models for students, and when we can't be the role models to introduce students to those who can. In our obsession over test scores and standards, it is key that we never forget the human element in education.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou, Lyrical Witness of the Jim Crow South, Dies at 86



“How maddening it was to have been born in a cotton field with aspirations of grandeur.”


As the news of Maya Angelou's passing touches the nation, I am both saddened and heartened. In reflecting on her life two things stand out. First, she was a testimony of grit, letting no obstacles stop her from pursuing her destiny. Secondly, her example to the world has been one that inspires individuals without a voice, to search within, claim theirs and declare it to the universe. "A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." Thank you Dr. Angelou, and may you Rest In Poetry.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.





Tuesday, May 27, 2014

NY Times: Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say



Graduation ceremonies at Temple University in Philadelphia this month. The pay disparity between those with college degrees and those without continues to grow.CreditDavid Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press

NEW YORK TIMES' DAVID LEONHARDT WRITES: COLLEGE IS WORTH IT


According to David Leonhardt of The New York Times, "Yes, college is worth it, and it’s not even close." He goes on to cite the statistics that, "The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else reached a record high last year, according to the new data, which is based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree."

Recently, I was in a discussion with a member of my PLN on twitter, who said college is not for everyone. I thought he made an interesting point. But, in the U.S. I don't think the training systems are in place to support students who choose to opt out of college and go a different direction. Where are the apprenticeships? Where are the entry points for young people to learn a lifelong trade that can allow them to provide for their families? In light of this stark reality, I think it is appropriate to encourage all of our students to attend college. In order to do this we need to assure that we prepare them in our classrooms, for the expectations of college and beyond. This does not mean teaching to a test, but it does mean making sure they have mastered key concepts in core subjects.

I was recently interviewed by Dr. Will Deyamport III, and we spoke about the tools that teachers can use to assure their students are mastering the learning objectives. Please check it out here: The Dr Will Show.

Do you think college is a must for all students? Please leave your questions and comments in the space below.

Friday, May 23, 2014

NY Times: This Smart Girl Says Thank You


John Gress/Reuters

True Grit

According Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, "In 2011, a malnourished 14-year-old Vietnamese village girl named Phung arose in the wee hours each morning in a herculean struggle to get an education. After I wrote about her, readers responded with a torrent of $750,000 in donations to Room to Read, the aid organization helping her."


The word grit is often used to describe the character traits necessary for a teacher to be successful in a challenging school environment. It is often applied to teachers, but Phung, a student exemplifies grit, and she is not the only one. The Nicholas Kristof article makes me think about students who are demonstrating true grit every day.

For example, in Chicago, a city often referred to as Chiraq, due to the overwhelming number of young people who are killed by violent crime each year, many young people walk to school under threat of violence each day. This is in addition to the burdens of life in poverty. Do they give up? No, they persevere, and at the same time somehow find a way to focus on academics. This is true grit. What are we doing to support them, our students in our country? Why can't we raise $750,000 for them? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

NY Times: A Beginner’s Guide to Repaying Student Loans

Robert Neubecker

According to the New York Times, "Too many people, including plenty of brand-new college graduates, fall far behind on their student loan payments for no good reason." 

As teachers we encourage all of our students to attend college. And the results are clear, students who graduate with a four year degree earn significantly more over the course of their lifetime. What can we as educators do to help prepare our students to manage the debt they incur upon graduation. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.





300,000 Quizzes Scanned with Quick Key Mobile



Hot on the heels of a $100,000 equity investment last week, today the 300,000th quiz was scanned using Quick Key Mobile’s app that turns your iPhone into an optical scanner. Teachers use Quick Key Mobile to scan and score paper-based quizzes and tests, saving them a dozen hours a week of time spent hand-grading.

According to Younis Aydin, the Computer Instructor at Omangazi Middle School, in Istanbul, Turkey, “Before Quick Key it would take me at least a week to grade 400 exams, now with Quick Key it takes me an hour. Quick Key is amazing, perfect, and super!”

See a live count of quizzes scanned at the company’s Website, www.quickkeyapp.com
See the current quiz count on our Website www.quickkeyapp.com

I want to extend a sincere and heartfelt "Thank You" to everybody who has stuck with us this school year. You have given us a lot of awesome feature requests. We are getting to them as quickly as we can. So please keep the feedback coming!

_isaac
Quick Key Mobile's CEO

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

NY Times: For Schools, Long Road to a Level Playing Field

A classroom schedule in Tempe, Ariz. Many reports have highlighted a persistent gulf in test results between the rich and the poor. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

According to the New York Times, "socioeconomic background explains 15 percent of the variation in the performance of American students, far more than in high-performing countries like Finland, Japan and Norway. Only one in 20 children coming from the most disadvantaged quarter of the population manages to excel at school and climb in the rankings." 


As I read this article, I thought I would learn more in depth about how socioeconomic disparities make it challenging for students to excel in the American education system. Instead, I collided with the age old notion that the problem is low quality teachers. According to Eduardo Porter, "But that won’t overcome perhaps the greatest shortcoming in the United States compared with top performers like Canada, Finland and Singapore: a dearth of excellent teachers." This myth, that the problem lies with the caliber of American teachers, is often propagated by those who simply refuse to ensure the resources and the support that are available to wealthy schools are also available for schools in impovrished districts.

In yesterday's blog post we saw how a professor who was an average student himself, leveraged his experience to create the TIP program at the University of Texas. The Tip program is a program that is actively solving the problem of the achievement gap between the rich and the poor, by offering support and mentoring to students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Instead of citing that work, the Times continued supporting the myth that the problem is with low quality teachers.

New rule, if you are going to write articles that shape the way the public views education in America, you should have at least proven the ability to manage a classroom full of thirteen year olds on the first warm day of spring. How can we close the achievement gap between the rich and the poor in America? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NY Times: Who Gets to Graduate

Vanessa Brewer 
Credit Bill McCullough for The New York Times


According to a recent New York Times article, "More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years. If you include community-college students in the tabulation, the dropout rate is more than half, worse than any other country except Hungary." 

The Times article cites the statistics that family income is the determining factor for whether or not a student will graduate. Professor David Laude, of the University of Texas, put together a plan to change these outcomes. It is called the TIP (Texas Interdisciplinary Plan) program, and it provides students with smaller class sizes, extra instruction, and peer mentorship. And it is having an impact, students from the lower income bracket are performing on par with students from the higher income brackets. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below on how we can support university students in their journey to graduation.

-Walter Duncan is the teacher Co-Creator of the Quick Key App, which allows teachers to grade paper assessments with their smart devices. Please go to www.quickkeyapp.com to find out more.