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This Startup Is Doing Something Awesome For Teachers and Aspiring Teachers

ISTE-Preview-topper This Startup Is Doing Something Awesome For Teachers and Aspiring TeachersISTE 2017: Chicago EdTech Startup The Graide Network Is So Much More Than Upwork For Teachers

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The Graide Network Co-Founder Chen Liu (image: Vimeo)

Websites that connect freelancers to projects or temporary work are nothing new. e-Desk/Upwork has been around for over a decade. When you’re too busy to get something done you just go to their website, pick somebody to do the work and voila.  It’s work outsourcing at it’s simplest.

There’s a Chicago edtech startup, called The Graide Network that is allowing teachers to outsource grading. But it’s actually a whole lot more.

The Graide Network let’s teachers find aspiring teachers that can grade their assignments. Although the school day may be just 6 hours most teachers work at least 8-10 hours at the school and then another 2-4 hours every night, at home. Weekends are scarce for the K-12 teacher as well. While Johnny and Jane may think they have a lot of homework, teachers typically have 150-200 students they teach throughout the day, and all of those assignments to grade.

The Graide Network solves that grading problem in four simple steps.

First the teacher posts detailed information about their assignment, including content about the class, grading instructions, due date and the rubric. Next, teachers are matched with the best Graider. Graider profiles include ratings, experience, relevant coursework and more. Teachers then upload the student work, which the Graiders grade and return with detailed feedback for the students and the class. Finally, teachers download the grades for their grade books or apps and return feedback for the student.

The Graide Network benefits the teachers and the aspiring teachers in a bunch of ways. The obvious first way for the teachers is it gives them more time, time to work on professional development and time to spend their families, which is always a struggle at the K-12 level. It also gives the teachers, and the students, the benefit of a different set of eyes on the material. It can open up a teachers eyes to challenges they may face in teaching the material, that they might not see grading assignments on their own.

For the aspiring teachers they are getting a hands on look at real student work, outside of the in classroom training. A Graider may get an eighth grade assignment one week, and an 11th grade World Civilization assignment the next.  It helps them develop their own style of grading based on the “7 Hallmarks of Effective Feedback.”  Graiders can also use their portfolio rank and feedback as a resume item.

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Blair Pircon, founder of The Graide Network speaks at 1871 (photo: Kellogg MBA program)\

The woman led startup was created by Blair Pircon at a hackathon as she was starting the Kellogg MBA program. “this was born before classes even started at Kellogg in a two day, kind of sprint hackathon” she told Tastytrade’s Bootstrapping In America show.  The company has gone onto win $135,000 in grants and prize money. They’ve also raised $200,000 from outside investors.

The Graide Network is a free service to teachers. The service is paid for by the schools and districts as a professional development tool and it costs much less than hiring 30-40 teacher’s assistants every year, a savings schools and districts need as education budgets are squeezed tightly.

The best part is that the Graiders are vetted. They’re either very new teachers or people in college studying to be teachers. The Graiders are getting real life experience, while the teachers are getting valuable free time and a second set of eyes on the assignments.

The Graiders are encouraged to give the best possible feedback. If they’re grading a math assignment, if the student gets a part wrong, the Graider will show the student how to get the correct answer.

Meet Blair in person at ISTE 2017’s Startup Pavilion, booth #2132 and find them online at 

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