Friday, August 17, 2012

Gradebooks

Last year our district officially switched to using PowerSchool for our online grade book.  I fully support using an online grade book and giving students (and parents) ready access to their grade information.  There certainly are pro's and con's to this system of constant information, not the least of which is that I am nagged regularly by students if their grades are not updated instantly (we have up to 3 weeks to update).  

Anyways... In the beginning of last year, I tried to go totally embrace the new system and go totally paperless.  I hate the paper grade books the school issues us (they never have enough or big enough boxes) and it seemed to me to be silly to keep 2 different grade books.  The problem was that I couldn't remember who of my 28 kids per class did all their homework, half their homework or none of it, by the time I got back to the front of the room and to my desktop to input this data.  (I check homework based on apparent effort, ie, did you try all the problems?  did you only do half the assignment?)  The other issue came with late assignments--I couldn't remind the students about them when I chatted with them while checking homework because I didn't have documentation of who owed me what.  Needless to say, my old paper grade book came back out to be used--but biggest issue still was not having enough space in it.  I couldn't mark attendance in addition to homework grades and I like to see whether a kid was absent, late, etc when they are missing assignments.  

Here I am, about to start a new school year, and still am not sure what to do about recording grades.  The obvious (albeit absurdly expensive) solution would be to purchase a tablet and input their grades right into PowerSchool as I check homework.  Unfortunately, I can't afford to do that.  Some of my colleagues print the weekly grids from PowerSchool and just put it in a clipboard and at the end of the week dispose of that single sheet of paper - not  a horrible idea.  I could continue to use my school issued paper grade book.  I am also playing with the idea of creating my own paper grade book in Excel--making it legal sized and allowing for a line between each student's name for keeping track of attendance.  

How do you record your grades?  Have you switched to an entirely computer based system?  Are you still using paper?  Do you make your own grade book?

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