Thursday, February 01, 2007

grading made easi(er)

This semester I purchased a grading/gradebook program. I've always used an excel spreadsheet to keep track of grades but never kept up on entering the formulas as I went along, so the end of the semester has always held an additional element of madness for me. Some may disagree entirely with keeping grades in a spreadsheet or figuring them with such strict mathematics and argue that grading should be done more holistically, which is fine for them and something I buy to an extent. But, having been in the position of having students come back to me the next semester questioning the grade I have given them, I find having the spreadsheet makes these conversations much easier. Anyway, I demoed only a couple of programs and settled on Easy Grade Pro. So far, I really like it. My favorite thing about it is the check mark. Yes, you can simply hit the check mark button for all those freewrites and low-stakes assignments that you just want to mark as completed. The program really allows you to create specific systems of marking and grading that allows for some of those not-so-straightforward types of grades. You can also attach footnotes to specific grades -- something the little lines of a gradebook or spreadsheet don't allow so easily. Also, previously I kept attendance only on paper, but the attendance sheet that automatically lists each class meeting day of the semester (you can create one based on only the days that your class meets) "forces" me to keep track of it the computer. The program adds up absences and latenesses as I go along, so that when the end of semester comes -- voila! -- no more madness. (As if...).

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