Tips and Tricks: Converting Your Math Assignments on Edcite

shutterstock_164604038Calling All Math Teachers!



We know that converting your paper-and-pencil assignments to digital ones can be quite the challenge. But, with every challenge is an opportunity. On Edcite, the digital assignments you create can help you save time and engage your students through a high-variety of interactive question types. This blog post gives you an overview of our top 10 math questions and how you can use them in a math assignment. We hope it’s helpful to you!

What is it?

Why use it?

How it’s used in math? / example?

Multiple Choice /Select Answer (PARCC or SmarterBalanced) Students select an answer choice (single select) or several correct choices (multi-select)
  • Autograded
  • Adaptable for single or multi-select
  • You can add as many answer choices as you want
  • Useful for the first question in a scaffolded sequence of questions.
  • Can easily be followed by a free response (how did you get the answer above) to make this question more rigorous
Numeric Response (PARCC) An open-ended question where students type in a response
  • Autograded
  • Teachers can program in a margin of error in the answer
  • Great for open-ended questions where you want the student to solve fully on their own
Fraction Response (PARCC) Visual question type for student,  multiple fraction grid shapes are available (rectangle, circle, etc.)
  • Autograded
  • Great for visual learners
  • Has multiple grid shapes available (rectangle, circle, etc.)
  • Used to help students practice fractions in a visual way.
  • Really great  for earlier grades!
Math Keyboard (PARCC or SBAC) Students answer question by entering answer using a math (calculator) keyboard
  • Autograded or free response
  • Use the same calculator that will be on your test (SBAC or PARCC)
  • Good for entering algebraic answers
  • Free response allows students to explain reasoning mathematically
Number Line Zoom (PARCC) Students select a segment of the number line, zoom in on it and then place their answer.
  • Autograded
  • Can be set up with fractions or decimals
  • Excellent for having students practice estimating fractions or decimals
  • Change the intervals to uncommon ones (i.e. go by sixths) and have students try to place familiar numbers
Touch Image (Image Types) Flexible item type that allows you to choose an image and have students click parts of the image based on your prompts
  • Autograded
  • Can set number of tries for each answer for a student
  • Works well with graphing questions where students should click on parts of a graph to answer question
  • See number line example in next blog post!
Graph Points and Lines (PARCC) Basic graphing item type that students use to plot linear equations, points and segments.
  • Autograded
  • Students can plot more than one figure per answer
  • Can graph points, segments and lines
  • Questions where students are constructing a graph
  • Graphing practice (paired with Graphing Inequalities, this is great for middle school and early algebra)
Drag and Drop (SBAC): highly flexible question type that makes student construct response. Students drag their answers to construct a response.
  • Autograded
  • Multiple answer types (i.e. digits, expressions, strings)
  • Advanced Scoring
  • Questions where you want the student to construct their answer instead of choosing it from a list
  • Advanced scoring questions
Group by Dragging (SBAC): you can set up categories and answers. Students drag the answers to the appropriate category. Students can sort the answer choices into categories created by the teacher
  • Autograded
  • Answers can be text, math type, or images of graphs
  • Add a “Does Not Fit in Any other Category” category to make it harder!
  • Good for learning and reinforcing new vocabulary
  • Example: Sort the functions according to what type of function they are


Mind the Gap

Why Technology Can Help Reduce the Summer Learning Gap

It’s May!  In my classroom, students are preparing for finals and completing final projects. In these moments, I try to pause and reflect on the growth and accomplishments of the past year.

As I do so, it stands out to me that this growth we are celebrating will not “stick” with my students equally. While some of my students will keep growing in the next few months, others will actually lose skills and understandings that they have now. Unsurprised? Some people (who probably aren’t educators) would say “This makes perfect sense, some students end up successful, some don’t.” But this is not random. Not at all. With a high degree of accuracy, I can predict which students will gain or lose ground in which subjects.

Who is Affected:

I do not have a crystal ball, I just know about Summer Learning Loss (SLL).  SLL occurs when students lose academic skills or knowledge during summer vacation.  The academic community has started to try to quantify this loss. They have found that on average, American students lose about a month of academic time during summer break.

But these data do not tell the whole story, which is much more interesting when you look at specific subjects and populations of students. In mathematics, students lose approximate 2.6 months of content time. Interestingly enough, in ELA, high-income students actually GAIN in achievement during the summer, while low-income students lose about 2 months of reading achievement. To get a better idea of what these data mean, over the course of a K-12 school career, the average student loses over 2 years of academic time in math (and ELA for the average lower income student).

What Can We Do?

Technology can be a powerful lever in reversing the SLL trends. Think flipping your classroom, all summer long! Through the diverse education platforms out there, teachers can send assignments to students, monitor progress, and view student data as much or as little as they want during the summer. And, because more and more educational websites are becoming mobile-accessible, it’s becoming far easier to access these learning tools and practice opportunities.

shutterstock_225866281I’m currently working with teachers to set up their summer work on Edcite, and the process has been inspirational to see! Based on their level of mastery during the school year, teachers are differentiating the content and sending specific assignments to specific groups of students. Thankfully, with multimedia-rich and interactive assignments, this summer work will be a lot more engaging for students that the traditional summer work packet. Best of all, teachers don’t have to wait until school starts to see if a student did or did not complete the work — they can monitor progress and access student performance data throughout the summer. And, through Edcite’s reporting features like the standards report, teachers can see what standards and concepts students have mastered, and which might need to be focused on more during the next school year.

If you have any favorite digital resources you love to use during the summer, I’d love to add them to my bag of tricks! You can email me ( or tweet at me (@bbmcintosh14)!

Tips and Tricks: Using Edcite for Assessments

Assignments vs. Assessments:

I teach high school Civics and Computer Science in San Francisco and, when I give my first test of the year, I like to set a distinct tone. With most assignments that I give out, I try to foster a culture of collaboration, questioning, recalling prior information and learning through mistakes and trying new things. This changes when it’s time for me to assess where we’re at. All notes and materials are put away, the noise level is silent, and there is no collaboration between students.

It’s important to be able to change the experience or feel of something to match the tone of the task at hand, which is why I want to highlight ways to change the experience from everyday assignments on Edcite to assessments on Edcite.

When Edcite started, we envisioned teachers using our platform in a formative way with their students. In the last few weeks, though, we have seen teachers using Edcite for summative assessments and so we have begun working with selected schools and districts to support summative assessments.

Assessing on Edcite:

In recent weeks, we have seen an increase in questions about how to use Edcite for Unit Tests and Benchmarks. This blog post will walk through some of the innovative ways that teachers are using Edcite to implement these assessments:

  • Limit Access

When you give pencil and paper tests, you don’t give your students the test anytime they want. Tests are generally taken during class so that the teacher can monitor students. Edcite has a feature that allows you to restrict access to a test to a specific time and date range.

To access this, open up the assignment editor and click on “Settings” (in red box in screenshot below).

Screenshot 1

Then, choose the tab titled “Limit Access”. Here, you will see a lot of options for restricting when students can access the test.

Screenshot 2

If you are planning on giving the test in a specific 1 hour block, you can set it up here. The test below is set to be given next Tuesday (1/27) from 1 to 2pm (note that military time is used so AM and PM are not necessary).

Screenshot 3

  • Student View Settings

Typically, students complete pencil and paper tests before they are given any kind of feedback from their teacher. I don’t stand over my civics students shoulders and tell them “Nice job, you got #2 right, but go take a look at #3”. Doing so would prevent their work from being their own. In Edcite, we make answer checking and redoing questions an option (this is useful for homework and practice) but you can turn it off for your assessments!

To do this, go to “Settings” from the assignment editor.

Screenshot 1

Choose the “Student View” tab (see screenshot below). Here you can either allow or disallow students redoing questions (I disallow this for students on tests).  You can also choose the option to “Hide Answer Details”. I would recommend choosing this if you don’t want students to be checking their answers as they go. If you don’t put this setting on, students can get discouraged if they see they missed an early question but can’t go back and do anything about it.

Screenshot 4

There is also a timer option if you want students to be aware of their time. Disclaimer: student feedback has been pretty consistent that the timer makes them nervous, I don’t use it for my tests!

Why Use Edcite for Assessments?

Edcite is a great assessment tool because:

  1. Much our teacher-created material is Common Core aligned (we have over 3,400 Common Core assignments, for every grade level and every subject!)
  2. Edcite’s question types mimic those used by the end-of-year exams — SmarterBalanced and PARCC.
  3. Edcite offers standard by standard grading. (For more info about Edcite’s standards grading and reporting features, stay tuned for our next tips and tricks blog post!)

Want more summative assessments from Edcite?

At Edcite, we are currently working on building Common Core aligned benchmarks to help students practice for new testing. If you are interested in learning more, sign up here. We will reach out to you!

Tutorial Tuesday – Uploading a Class Using a CSV File

This Tutorial Tuesday will focus on how to best use the new File Class Upload on Edcite! Before we get into the details, we are thankful to the many teachers who suggested this as a helpful feature. It is the feedback from teachers that helps us make Edcite an even better resource!

What is the File Class Upload for?

This is the third method of adding students to a class (the other two are the class code and manually adding each student). The File Upload is useful if your students might struggle with using the class code or if you want to have a lot of control over student usernames. It is also a timesaver if you are manually uploading students because you can do it all at once. In the future, it will also be a great way for Technology specialists to upload multiple classes at once. 

How to create a File to upload a class:

  1. Use the template that we have provided and fill it in with student info
  2. Create your own CSV file using Powerschool (see linked PDF for steps)
  3. Create your own Excel spreadsheet using the headers shown below (in the same order), fill in student information. Make sure you save your excel spreadsheet as a CSV using the “Save As” option.


F Name L Name Student email (optional) Student UserID Activation Password
Brian McIntosh bmcintosh18 algebra1

Tips for filling in student data:

Student First Name Student Last Name Student Email (optional) Student UserID Activation Password
Use the same name as in your gradebook to save time. Use the same name as in your gradebook to save time. 1. Elementary schoolers may not yet have emails.

2. If they do have email, it is a good way to notify them when you send an assignment. Use school emails when possible.

1. This will be their permanent login

2. Tip: use a pattern for all usernames so that you can remind students if they forget (1st initial, last name, grad year)

1. Make it simple, students can change it upon login

2. Use different passwords w/ older students to prevent sign-ins into wrong accounts

How to Upload your finished CSV file:

Step 1: From the teacher homepage choose the “Classes” tab and choose “My Students” 

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 2.44.47 PM

Step 2: Find the class that you want to add students to. Note: If you haven’t yet created a class, see this document on how to create a class.

 You will know you have selected the class because its name will be highlighted in yellow (see below).  Click on the button that says “Upload Students” (in red below).

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 2.49.55 PM

Step 3: Click on “Upload File” and select your CSV file. If it doesn’t work, make sure you have the file saved as a CSV file type.
Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 2.56.06 PM

Step 4: Check your student list to make sure it looks accurate. If it is accurate, click on “Add Students to Class” to finalize the upload of students!

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 2.57.30 PM Note: If some students come up in red (see red rows below), it means that their username is already in the system. You can still add them to your class by clicking on the “Add Students to Class” button.  If you get a message that says “Student Email Already used by [username]” (see green row below) then it will not add the student to your class because they are already signed up with a different UserID. To fix this, just change the UserID for that student or get rid of the student email.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 1.24.06 PM

Step 5: Print a copy of the file for your records in case students forget their usernames.

 I hope this Tutorial Tuesday was helpful and stay posted for another one on in two weeks!

Tutorial Tuesday: Group by Dragging

This is part 1 of an ongoing series exploring different questions types and tools in Edcite. With over 50 item types (including our new PARCC items added a few weeks ago, link to that blog), it is easy to be overwhelmed. The aim of this series is to dig deeper into one particular function on Edcite at a time and discuss 1) what it is 2) when/why it is useful and 3) special features. Throughout the post, there will be screenshots and links to exemplars!

This week, we will look at the popular “Group by Dragging” item type.

What is Group by Dragging?

  • Students click and drag answers into the appropriate category
  • You can use two or more categories
  • Can be found in the SBAC category but this is useful regardless of what test students are taking!

When should I use Group by Dragging?

  • Great for teaching vocabulary
  • A good way to find student misconceptions about a topic
  • Can be used as a pre-assessment to make a KWL chart
  • Can range from very concrete to more abstract

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 10.54.34 AM

Assignment: Fruit or Vegetable? (Kindergarten ELA); Assignment creator: Kimberly Bennett

Why use Group by Dragging?

  • It can help students understand the difference between categories
  • Students’ wrong answers can be just as informative as their right answers
  • Automatic grading helps you quickly identify students who are confused
  • Teachers can include multimedia to make the questions even more engagingScreen Shot 2014-12-16 at 10.59.37 AM

Assignment: Rational and Irrational Numbers (8th grade Math); Assignment creator: Bhimasena Joshi

Editor Description/Features:

  • Below is a picture of the editor for this question type, labeled by part. Keep in mind, these labels are just suggestions and you can change what a specific part is if you want!

Group by Dragging Editor

Quick Tips:

  • Include a “None” category to up the rigor
  • It doesn’t have to just be text. You can upload pictures and graphs too!Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.05.06 AM

Assignment: Macromolecules Review (High school, biology); Assignment Creator: Talia Arbit

Examples by subject:

Questions from the video:

Working With Slope: Parallel Lines Group by Dragging

Middle School Informational Text: Sequencing – Segregation and Civil Rights

Macromolecule Polysaccharides Practice

Social Studies:
Constitution Day: School House Rock Clip

Hour of Code


This week, December 7th – 13th, is the Hour of Code. Over 100 million students have already participated, but new content is made each year!  The idea behind Hour of Code is to introduce kids (and adults too) to the challenge and excitement of coding.

Here is a comprehensive list of Hour of Code Modules that can be found on the Hour of Code Homepage. Each of these is designed as an exploration of programming that should take ~1 hour.

If you are introducing students to coding for the first time, I would recommend using the Snap! programming language. I use Snap! in my Introduction to Computer Science course, a course for students with little to no prior programming experience. The Snap! program is a programming language from UC Berkeley, and I use it as part of a curriculum from TEALS (link to TEALS). Snap! is wonderful for Hour of Code because it allows students to do a lot and learn the basics of computing quickly. Here is a sample Hour of Code exercise on Snap! Math teachers, this Hour of Code exercise also gives student practice with cartesian coordinates in an interesting way!

Using Edcite to Assess in Computer Science: If you’re interested in making an assignment to assess what students learned from hour of code, check out some assignments I’ve made for students in my class!

Lists and Loops
Lists Assignment 1
Variables Assignment

Edcite allows me to create interesting assignments that use screenshots from the Snap! program.  I can also share my assignments at the end of the year with other teachers using Edcite’s sharing system.

When making these assignments, I like to use the following item types:

  1. Multiple choice, multi-select (quick to grade, good to spot misconceptions)
  2. Free Response (good way to push students to explain their thinking)
  3. Touch Image (you can use screenshots from the program have students click on the block to test specific understanding)

shutterstock_205033414More Great Programs:

Flipping the Classroom 2.0

More Than Just “Lecture Videos at Home”


“I do. We do. You Do.” These guiding words helped me think through my lesson plan layout for the first few years of my teaching career. “I do” describes the introduction of new material; “we do” refers to the guided practice; and “you do” points to the independent practice, which often starts in class but finishes at home.

In the past few years, however, teachers have started to use technology to experiment with “Flipped” classrooms.  In the most popular version of the flipped model, the introduction to new material (where the teacher can be seen lecturing, presenting a powerpoint, or doing a basic problem) generally takes place at home, through a lecture video.  This in turn frees up class time for more in depth mastery and additional support for students who need it.

Initially, I had a very rigid idea in my head of what I needed to do in the flipped classroom model. It was: introduce new material (INM) in a video (see some of my videos here) at home, students would arrive in class and take a basic quiz or entrance ticket on the material. In class, we would expand on the topic at hand with a more difficult version of the problem and then move into group or individual work (the worksheets that normally would have been homework assignments in years past). The worksheets would be finished in class, so students could then learn new material at home that night. The essence of the flipped classroom is that technology enables us as teachers to take the conventional lesson structure (I do → We do → You do) outside of the physical classroom environment.

But the idea of flipping the class using tech is more powerful than my initial view of it.  There are many ways to flip a class, aside from just switching the INM with the independent practice.

This is a freeing concept once you think about it because it means that you can start to use the home environment as a way for students to continue their learning, and you can accomplish this in a multitude of ways.  Below are some different ways that I moved pieces of a lesson around that were more unique.

First, embedding questions with video lectures to bring some basic guided practice into your INM. Though I started my year using entrance quizzes and note checks to keep students accountable, I found it even more effective to embed the videos within assignments (see Q8) on Edcite. For reading assignments, I would put some comprehension level questions in them (here is an example of an assignment on reading from my computer science class), and use these as launching points to discuss the deeper questions for class. I could see a digital record of Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.43.05 PMthem opening the assignment (or not!). This was really helpful for accountability and figuring out students’ tech access situations. It also allows me to identify which students need to follow up with at the start of class!

Second, you can use tech to build assignments that deepen student understanding at home. Students can review the concepts at home so they are prepared for more rigorous practice the next day. And, with digital assignments, students can get real time feedback and understand their misconceptions early on. The key to these practice assignments is finding assignments that well-scaffolded, so students are led from the more basic concepts those that are more complex.

Finally, you can also help solidify student understanding at home by embedding additional materials in regular digital assignments. For many students, seeing the information presented in a different way, by a different person can make the new concept “click”. With digital assignments, teachers can upload links to resources, videos, images and information about other resources from the class.

  • Assignment Exemplars:
    • This Computer Science assignment sends student to digital reading resources.
    • This Lou Gehrig’s Speech has a video compilation that strings together parts of Lou Gehrig’s speech. can be embedded to supplement or push student understanding
    • This Kindergarten Counting Practice assignment includes many images to make the concepts more real for students!
    • This Pre-Calc Assignment lists pages from a textbook as resources for students in my class!

As technology (and tech access) continues to improve, the walls of the classroom continue to expand. I find it helpful to continue thinking about the basic lesson structure as a guide. I do, we do, you do is still important, but tech allows us to successfully perform these different pieces of the lesson at new times.