A couple of years ago I decided to ditch my old fashioned teacher planner and use an Excel spreadsheet to record student grades. My reasons for doing this were twofold: firstly to enable me to filter each student’s grades by skill (listening, reading etc.) to identify where they needed to focus their efforts, and secondly, to enable me to put a copy of the mark book (without names) on the VLE so that students could track their progress and see what work they had outstanding. I was fairly happy with this until I discovered Engrade. Engrade is a free online application which enables you to easily record student grades and which can be accessed by students and parents alike through the website. Here are a few of the features which I really like and which have converted me to Engrade:
- Firstly, it is very easy to set up a class list. Once you have set up your profile through the webpage you can set up a new assignment and enter grades through their mobile site (which is great for those of us who using mobile technology in our classrooms). When you are setting up your class you can define assignment categories (i.e. homework, mock exams, vocabulary tests etc.) and these appear as separate headings on any reports which you produce at a later date.
- When you set up a class you can set your own grade boundaries. Each time you grade a piece of work the application automatically recalculates the student’s cumulative score. If a student fails to submit work then they get zero points. I have found in the past that this serves as an incentive for students to give in work, especially if this grade is used on their report to parents.
- Secondly, you can set up skills under the ‘standards’ tab and allocate a skill (listening, reading, writing etc.) to each piece of work. It is then very easy to produce a report showing the student’s average grade for each skill which helps identify which skill students have most difficulty with and where they need to focus their efforts.
- One beauty of this application is that it is designed to be used by an institution as a whole, and when this is the case the true benefits can be seen. For example, a class can be shared between teachers and when students or parents log on through the web portal they will see the student’s progress in all of his/her subjects. To use the application in this way, set up an account as an administrator. This will enable you to create your school and generate an institution code. You should then pass on this code to your colleagues to use when they set up their own teacher account.
Another alternative which also has a facility for lesson planning is LearnBoost.
I hoping that Engage is going to have a positive effect in my classroom in helping students to take more of an active interest in their progress and motivating them to submit homework. I’d be very interested to hear from anybody who is already using this application.
There are lots of good video tutorials on Vimeo if you are interested in knowing more or fancy testing it out.