24 September 2011

Transition to Engrade

This means I'm going to have to keep up with grading.

I have set up a gradebook with Engrade for all 5 of my classes this year. I have entered the vast majority of titles for assignments given so far this year. I have entered, oh, maybe half of the grades for these assignments; some still languish in the Edmodo gradebook or on Glogster projects...or post-its. Others, frankly, have not been graded.

However, progress reports are to go out Monday and Tuesday (A Day/ B Day schedule, don't you know), so it's now or never.

At least two of my colleagues are completely in love with Engrade. I think these colleagues grade everything the same day they get it anyway. Also, they are kind of my gurus in the push to go paperless...ish. Plus, my principal (though I think he's still seeking an online gradebook where he can just upload CSV files or something for his Theater Arts class) has said as long as we keep the Engrade grades updated, we don't have to enter anything but the final grade each quarter in our compulsory official state-sanctioned clunky online gradebook. Hooray for administrative support!

I mean, parents and students can't check NCWise at will, so really, we're more accountable and transparent this way. So why shouldn't he grant us that?

So far, Engrade has not exactly convinced me to go to prom with it, but there are a few reasons that I'm still allowing it to pitch woo.

Doubts/ don't love:
  • Entering names & student numbers by hand. One. By. One.
  • Not to mention their e-mails and parent e-mails.
  • What the heck is the difference between adding an assignment to Discussions and to Turn-ins? Is it supposed to do what I've been using Edmodo for?
  • Why the heck would it give me the option "Allow students to see Assignment"? Is that for us perpetually procrastinatory types? For those who are so far ahead they don't want to freak out their class when they add things to the book?
  • If there is a way to share students with my co-workers, I don't know what it is yet.
Of course, Engrade's wingman, our unofficial tech rep (now that our IT staff went from 2 to 1 for the whole DISTRICT) and social studies profesor, is set to answer some of these questions. That and maybe he'll show me how to do useful things with categories like Quizzes, Discipline, Discussions, Comments, Standards, and Seating (though I kind of doubt they have anything compatible with my trapezoidal table set-up).

Do like:
  • I can just push space after a grade and comment on the reason behind it, thus facilitating the tracking of students whose "late penalty" is served in time after school rather than points.
  • The simplicity of new assignments being the closest, and the old ones being the ones pushed off screen, theoretically past their grading window.
  • Auto-save!
  • Averages: by assignment and by class
  • I can invite parents/students by e-mail (that's the only reason you really need to collect those one by one) OR just give them a code to access grades
  • Once parents/students have access, they can check any time they feel like...and I don't have to call or e-mail to keep them in the know!
  • Oh yeah, and FREE!
I still have a lot to discover about Engrade, its benefits and its pitfalls, and hopefully our little professional development session will get me the rest of the way. I am, after all, still in transition phase.

No comments:

Post a Comment