I started teaching at a time when it was normal for teachers to carry around a hard copy grade book everywhere they went. If we went to the copier, we took our grade book. If we went to a parent conference, we took our grade book. That grade book was our bible, our connection to which student did their work and the ones who did nothing. If by chance a teacher lost their grade book it became a school emergency with students being searched, lockers being searched and eventually being found due to some prank carried out by brave students. This distinctive book (usually red, brown or green ) was a book that literally held our teaching livelihood.
About a year into teaching, I was introduced to a new phenomenon, online grade books. At first I was leery of this new technology but gradually I started to use one and my life instantly became easier. I could now enter grades and instantly students knew what their grades were. Parents no longer needed to call me to see if their child turned in an assignment- it was all there in on the computer screen. Online grade books made conferences much easier because I could walk in with a computerized progress report that could make the toughest of students cry out in defeat.
Before I knew it, my hard copy grade book was thing of the past. Then the unthinkable happened. One day, the server of the company I was using went down and for a week I was without my grades. Parents began to call me distraught about the inability to see their child’s grades. By the end of the week, I was a complete nervous wreck racked with thoughts of never seeing my grades again. Luckily, the server was able to saved and my grades reappeared but not without me learning a valuable lesson about grades. While online grade books are great, I always need a paper copy in case of the inevitable failure in technology.
Despite the push by most school districts to go completely digital for grading systems, it’s important recognize the pros and cons of having both an electronic and hard copy grade book. Think about this:
- A hard copy grade book allows teachers to always have access to grades for students, parents and administrators. However, online grade books also give instant access to grades and averages to parents and students without having to constantly email, call or conference with the teacher.
- An online system will instantly calculate averages for you with the ‘click of a button’. This feature is both a blessing and curse, because if there is an error anywhere in the calculation formula, it could drastically affect averages.
- Hard copy grade books never go offline or are affected by lack of available computers. So many times teachers have to wait to put grades in online because of a technical issue at their school; therefore, delaying students having access to their grades.
- Online grade books helps hold students accountable because they can visually see how completing assignments affects their grades. Hard copy grade books are great but many times it takes students to see their grades for them to start to take action over bad grades.
In evidently, online grade books are easier ( than hard copy grade books) for teachers to manage, they make grading easier by taking the stress out of teachers having to manually calculate grades. Despite it all sometimes I look at my old grade book and miss the good times we used to have. Which grade book do you prefer to use?