Friday, March 14, 2014

#TeacherKarma, Or How Students Come Back Into Our Lives


As a certified teacher in the state of Massachusetts I have learned a tremendous amount in different graduate school classes and professional development sessions. However, the most important things I have learned have come from my fellow teachers and from experiences in the classroom. The Notes from the Chalkboard Blog is where I will share some of those hard won lessons. So without further ado, here are some of my notes from the chalkboard.....

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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 at www.quickkeyapp.com 


#TeacherKarma

The thing about teaching is you never quite know who your students will become. You see their potential, you nurture it the best you can, and they move on. You try to be exactly what they need you to be for them at any given moment, and then you exhale and let them go. They in turn continue to grow into their respective destinies.

The age of social media has changed the teacher-student relationship. After 15 years in the classroom, many of my former students are now thriving adults. And with the power of social media, it is much easier to stay connected with them after they become adults. I have seen some of my students become fantastic musicians, while others have shown sharp business acumen. I have even hired one of them as my head iOS developer for Quick Key.

This blog is about one of my former students in particular. He was, and still is, bright and thoughtful, and always ready to speak his mind. He was the type of student who would add something to the discussion that was insightful, but could potentially take the discussion off course. It is important with this type of student, to keep them engaged and never crush their enthusiasm. A teacher must walk that fine line of encouraging enthusiasm, while at the same time keeping the class on track toward the learning goals.

As an adult I reconnected with him through Facebook. It turns out that his enthusiasm has translated well in hollywood. He has appeared in many national commercials. I must say it is quite a feeling to see your former student on your TV telling you why Verizon has the best 4G coverage. Almost makes you want to switch to Verizon, almost.

After I had completed the first prototype of my Quick Key App, I made a grainy Youtube video. My wife filmed it, and I had my dog with me. I sent him a message asking him to help me make a better one. He asked for my Youtube password and said "let me change a thing or two about a thing or two".

I went to bed, and at 1 a.m. my life began to drastically shift course. My phone would not stop buzzing, it was comments on my Youtube page!

He had taken the liberty of posting my video on Reddit, saying "One of the best teachers I ever had just showed me this and said, "Don't laugh at how amateurish the video is, or at my weird dog in the background, but I think I have a good invention here." I'm inclined to agree, dear Walter. Let's show him we appreciate his hard work!". And boy did Reddit show it! The video went viral receiving over 460,000 views. The next day after my first period class I was told to check out Techcrunch where I was on the front page next to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.  Talk about Teacher Karma!

Quick Key has gone on to hit many milestones, including raising over 320k and recently going over 155,000 quizzes scanned. But this past year has stamped the truth into my heart, that we give our best to our students each day, because that is our purpose. We teach to change lives. But sometimes, they come back and radically change ours.

Feel free to share the ways that your former students have changed your lives in the comment section below!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

@Blerdmedia Brings People Together with a Critical Eye Toward Pop Culture! #BlerdMedia

Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage 

We started News and Notes to update everyone on all the exciting things that are going on in education in general. We want to keep you abreast of great blogs, interesting discussions, and new developments we discover from members of our PLN. 
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I found my tribe!

That is what I exclaimed when I first met Jovan Miles AKA @blerdmedia on Twitter. He has managed to bring together a diversity of voices to comment on the culture we and our students are immersed in. I invite you to visit his site, and check out the different writers that comprise the Blerd Media Group. It is refreshing to hear their take on TV, movies, music and education. 

Additionally I was moved to see Quick Key show up on his site in the education section, I appreciate the love Jovan! Please keep moving the conversation about our culture forward!

Check out Quick Key on Blerd Media here: http://blerdmediagroup.com/education/

And check the entire Blerd Media Site here: http://blerdmediagroup.com/


Monday, March 10, 2014

Quick Key Covered by @coolcatteacher!

Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage 

We started News and Notes to update everyone on all the exciting things that are going on in education in general. We want to keep you abreast of great blogs, interesting discussions, and new developments we discover from members of our PLN. 
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Photo appears courtesy of www.foundanimals.org


@coolcatteacher blogs about Quick Key!

When I joined Twitter one of the first teachers I followed was Vicki Davis aka @coolcatteacher. She had a huge following and her tweets were authentic and helpful. I was overjoyed when she followed me back! I reached out to her, never really expecting to get to speak with her, and lo and behold she took the time to speak with me by phone. I am excited to hear that she has launched a new project, a collaborative study of the book Physics of the Future. Though this collaborative project may have come to a conclusion, I encourage you to reach out to her about her next collaborative experience.

Imagine my surprise when months later I discovered that she decided to cover Quick Key on her blog! It is so nice to connect with someone in my PLN, who is as authentic and committed to students as Vicki is, who would take the time to support this Teacherpreneur. 

Thank you Vicki! Please check out her blog post here: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/photos/quick-key/

And by all means like her Facebook page for awesome updates!

Thanks Vicki, you are an inspiration to all the Teacherpreneurs out there!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Power of the PLN #2: From Across the Pond!

Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage 

We started News and Notes to update everyone on all the exciting things that are going on in education in general. We want to keep you abreast of great blogs, interesting discussions, and new developments we discover from members of our PLN. 
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From Across the Pond!

As I learn more about the power of the PLN, and the wonderful connections to be made on Twitter, I find myself coming across wonderful surprises. I am often on twitter looking for voices from frontline teachers, so that I can absorb and share their insights. On one occasion last week, I came across this blog post. It moved me as it was a simple review of my Quick Key app, and the review highlighted why I created the app, and affirmed the importance of tools for educators being #Teachermade. Please check out and follow @mrjwinstanley, he has a lot to share, don't miss out.

Mr Winstanley's Blog:

The responses I get when demoing Quick Key for the first time are fantastic. Some swiftly take the device and parade it around the staff room as if a descendant of royalty, others turn into gollum and reduce into the shadows whispering ‘my precious’ for the rest of their lunch break. It really is that good!

Continued.......




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Power of the PLN! #Teachermade

Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage 

We started News and Notes to update everyone on all the exciting things that are going on in education in general. We want to keep you abreast of great blogs, interesting discussions, and new developments we discover from members of our PLN. 
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The Power of the PLN!

The Twitterverse has changed my life!  Each day I come across committed educators who make a difference in classrooms everyday. Additionally, they find the time to share their perspective and practice with teachers around the world. I am committed to using the Quick Key Blog to highlight these educators. Keep an eye on my twitter feed for the hashtag #teachermade to follow the contributions of these amazing frontline educators.

I connected with Bobbi Capwell through Quick Key, she brings a well rounded perspective from a frontline educator. I was honored that she included me in one of her blog posts about her PLN, and I recommend you follow her blog with all deliberate speed. You rock Bobbi!

From Bobbi Capwell's Blog:

Things I do now that I have a PLN

It is funny how your perception changes once you start really communicating with the people you follow on any Social Media. These folks I am talking about are some of the most incredibly brilliant and creative people in the world. My PLN reminds me of the Nursery Rhyme with the Butcher, Baker and Candlestick maker- I have Educational Consultants, Educators of all subjects and ages, Preachers, Musicians, Chefs, Programmers, and Authors. What a support system it has become! I thought this would be a great way to express what I have learned from them. Sometimes, it might be a quick status, tweet or a direct message that means something to me or that makes me think “I want to learn more about that” or “How Cool! I could share that with my teachers!”

Bobbi's Blog Continued......


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Share Your Formative Assessments with Teachers Across the Globe



Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage 

We started News and Notes to update everyone on all the exciting things that are going on in education in general. We want to keep you abreast of great blogs, interesting discussions, and new developments we discover from members of our PLN. 
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Share the World!

A strange and wonderful thing has begun to happen since the launch of the Quick Key app. Teachers around the world have begun to share their formative assessments. Geography teachers worldwide have started it, but this is just the beginning. If you are a Geography teacher, download or share assessments on this page: InternetGeography , or blaze a trail and start your own sharing page. We are all connected, and as teachers when we share with each other we empower each other.




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#langchat #mfltwitteratti The Power of Being Connected


Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage 

We started News and Notes to update everyone on all the exciting things that are going on in education in general. We want to keep you abreast of great blogs, interesting discussions, and new developments we discover from members of our PLN. 
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The Power of Being Connected


I feel so lucky everyday when I venture out into the Twitterverse and connect with other like minded educators. I have had the pleasure of gaining insight into a diversity of practices that challenge and change my way of thinking about teaching every day.

I have also had the joy of just plain meeting cool people and discovering their insightful content. Recently I connected with @sonrisadelcampo, I recommend that teachers of world language subscribe immediately to her blog! The following is a piece she wrote about my formative assessment app, Quick Key.

Teaching Spanish w/ Comprehensible Input


Quick Key is an app created by Walter O. Duncan IV (@4_teachers) to help teachers quickly grade short assessments like Ticket Out the Door or quizzes.

I found the app in a round-about way from Twitter (just another reason why Twitter is a key part of my PLN). After I downloaded the app, I printed a few QK Tickets, (scantron sheets), and started working with the app. I added a list of names, assigned them to a class, made the answer key on the app, and filled in several student answer sheets.

Continued...








Monday, January 6, 2014

#vicpln #ictev Australian Educator Speaks Up about Formative Assessment!


Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage 

We started News and Notes to update everyone on all the exciting things that are going on in education in general. We want to keep you abreast of great blogs, interesting discussions, and new developments we discover from members of our PLN. 
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Australian Educator Speaks Up about Formative Assessment!

I was lucky enough to come across this blog post in my Twitter feed from +Kerryn Manifold (@KerrynManifold). He makes some great points and gives insight on how teachers in Australia are harnessing the power of data without losing the art of teaching. Check it out!

Classroom changes for 2014



"Australian students and teachers will start a new school
year in a few weeks and I have a feeling it's going to be a good year. 

Since returning from a six year hiatus from education in 2012, it's been
a steep learning curve. 

Things like collecting data and tracking student performance were 
things I always did but new technologies are now empowering teachers 
to be able to do this even better."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

We Must be Gladiators for Our Students! #education #teachers


As a certified teacher in the state of Massachusetts I have learned a tremendous amount in different graduate school classes and professional development sessions. However, the most important things I have learned have come from my fellow teachers and from experiences in the classroom. The Notes from the Chalkboard Blog is where I will share some of those hard won lessons. So without further ado, here are some of my notes from the chalkboard.....

______________________________________________


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.  

We Must Be Gladiators for our Students!

It is not enough to just teach anymore. There are so many decisions being made about education by those with little to no experience in the classroom. As teachers, we need to step up and make sure our voices are being heard in the rooms where decisions are being made that impact the future of all students. I recently completed a fun interview with a teacher in Ontario, Canada, Dave Pluscauskas, who has created a platform for teachers to be respected and heard. Please check it out! If you stick around to the end you can even here me freestyle :)







Monday, December 9, 2013

The Art of Teaching, or why the freedom to teach is so important.


As a certified teacher in the state of Massachusetts I have learned a tremendous amount in different graduate school classes and professional development sessions. However, the most important things I have learned have come from my fellow teachers and from experiences in the classroom. The Notes from the Chalkboard Blog is where I will share some of those hard won lessons. So without further ado, here are some of my notes from the chalkboard.....

______________________________________________


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 I 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!










Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How To Sort Quick Key Excel Exports


Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage.

Download Quick Key Mobile™  and join our Open Beta today!


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How to Sort Quick Key Exports Using an Excel Sheet

Alphabetizing your Quick Key exports is as easy as 123. I made a screen cast this morning that walks you through the steps. As always remember that #weareallconnected, and have an amazing day of classes.




We Appreciate the Support!!


Thank you for all of your support so far, and please continue to help us spread the word by sharing this link explaining Quick Key with your friends: http://bit.ly/1lxAM6U

Best,
Walter

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Saving Paper and Time with Quick Key!


Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage.

Download Quick Key Mobile™  and join our Open Beta today!




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Saving Paper and Time with Quick Key Mobile™ for Powerful Formative Assessment!

 


How to use Quick Key and save trees!

  • Print your Quick Tickets from Quickkeyapp.com (make sure the copies are dark enough and in black and white)
  • Fill in the student names and ID numbers (make sure you use the Quick Key ID)
  • Laminate your class set of Quick Tickets
  • Have students use Wet Erase marker to answer questions
  • Viola! Powerful Formative Assessment + more trees :)


Powerful PLN!


One of the joys of being the teacher creator of Quick Key is that I have been able to connect with educators world wide. Quick Key has become a movement, and I am honored to be a part of it. Most recently I have been communicating with a group of teachers from the UK. They have taken Quick Key and implemented their own innovations, and it is their innovations that I have shared with you. I would like to thank them, and we hope you find the information helpful. Please remember #weareallconnected and teach amazing today!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Data Driven Instruction, or How I Faced the Monster Under the Bed.





As a certified teacher in the state of Massachusetts I have learned a tremendous amount in different graduate school classes and professional development sessions. However, the most important things I have learned have come from my fellow teachers and from experiences in the classroom. The Notes from the Chalkboard Blog is where I will share some of those hard won lessons. So without further ado, here are some of my notes from the chalkboard.....

______________________________________________

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 for download on the Quick Key Homepage

Data Driven Instruction

It was a Thursday, the day was marked for professional development. I was in my first year at a high performing, "no excuses" charter school. The results were in from our first benchmark exam of the year. We sat in the meeting, a little uneasy, all knowing that without saying it out loud we were being judged by the results. We gathered together and went over the benchmark data as a group. We found out how well our students were doing in comparison to other students of the same grade level within the school and within the Charter School network. We needed to improve, the pressure was on. We received a short pep talk from our school leader about how we were going to use the data from benchmark assessments to target the areas of our students' weakness. It was a great pep talk, and I left the meeting fired up!

I was sent by myself to my classroom, with a password to access the data from my students. As I opened the portal I was overwhelmed. Each standard was listed. First, I had to determine how my three sections performed on all the standards as a whole. Then, I had to look at what standards more than 30% of each group struggled with. After three hours of doing this with no support, just figuring it out on my own, I had an epiphany. It was bitter sweet. It was sweet because I understood how I was going to get the most out of the data I had just received (even though it was poorly presented to me and tedious to navigate). It was bitter, because it meant I still had hours and hours of work to do, before I could get back to planning my lessons, grading assessments, and creating my materials. I began to break down each question and find the common errors, I would go back to the benchmark exam and see what distractor answers the students chose, and slowly I began to make sense of the data. Gradually, patterns began to emerge. 

Getting the data from the previous three months was helpful. But it meant I had to restructure future units, to include ways to circle back and reteach what the benchmark data had shown me. This threw my year plan into disarray. But what could I do?  I bore down, reworked my units, and retaught the areas that needed to be addressed. I did it, but it was kind of miserable. I could feel my joy and enthusiasm waning. The kids could feel it too! They could sense that I was feeling tense and under pressure, and they also struggled with going back over things they had already covered. No one was very happy, but we all did it together. And you know what?  Their scores improved that year, and I did not burn out. But I knew there had be a better way. How could I get relevant data without depleting the joy, engagement and enthusiasm that I work so hard to create in my class?

I realized I needed to have a better grasp of what the students mastered the same day that I taught it. I needed to get more out of the formative assessments I was already doing. Instead of just looking over my daily exit tickets, I needed to track them more closely. I found that this was the best way to stay up to date in real time with my student performance. Again, I met with a brick wall! I had over ninety students! Grading and doing item analysis on 90 exit tickets a day was unsustainable. I did as much as I humanly could, but there had to be a better way.

These were the experiences that led me to create Quick Key Mobile™ in conjunction with my Co-Founder Isaac Van Wesep. I needed a tool to grade and quickly give me the data from daily formative assessments, benchmark exams, or weekly quizzes. Quick Key does just that, and it does it fast! There is no question that using data to drive instruction is one of the keys to improving student performance, and now teachers can use the Quick Key App to help them do it quickly and effortlessly!

Please check out my short film on how to use Quick Key for your formative assessments,  and remember we are all connected!



Walter Duncan


Co-Founder DBE/Quick Key


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Powerful Formative Assessment with Quick Key Mobile


Quick Key Mobile™ is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on the Quick Key Homepage.

Download Quick Key Mobile™  and join our Open Beta today!


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Quick Key makes formative assessment and data driven instruction effortless!

Many of our current users have been asking us to help them share Quick Key Mobile™ with their friends and colleagues. So, we put together a short video overview of how to use Quick Key to improve student performance. Check it out, share it with your friends, and leave us feedback on our blog!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quick Key Features!


Quick Key Mobile™
 is an app for iPhone and iPad that turns those devices into optical scanners, to grade paper assessments in a flash. The free app is available on iTunes at www.tinyurl.com/quickkeymobile 


We started Quick Key Features to update everyone on all the exciting things that teachers can do with Quick Key Mobile™


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Features to help Teachers with Formative Assessment 


Getting the most out of Quick Key means knowing about all of the features. This is a short screen-cast that shows you how to use one of our basic features that allows you to export class lists with student ID numbers. Many teachers have laminated the list and posted it on their wall, so students can access it easily.  Join the movement with teachers all over the world, download our Open Beta and start grading FAST!