This post will be the third in a series about my journey this year to integrate technology in meaningful ways into my third grade classroom. You can read the first two posts here: http://corelaboratewa.org/bringing-a-growth-mindset-to-tech/ and here; http://corelaboratewa.org/bringing-a-growth-mindset-to-tech-part-2/
I mentioned last time that I accepted a student teacher this fall who had the tech comfort level to show me new tricks. She used google slides to create engaging quick-image math lessons and we collaborated on lesson plans using shared google docs. I’ve also written about how using googledocs with my students has deepened the communication between us and provided a way to give instant and specific feedback.
Today I’m going to elaborate on how I have begun digitizing some of my record keeping. I know, exciting stuff, right? Record keeping. *falls asleep on desk* Hear me out, it gets interesting.
I am much more of a notes jotted on scraps of paper-keep everything floating in my head-make adjustments to instruction on the fly because I know right where my students are – kind of teacher. Official, numerical, standardized record keeping is not my forte.The problem, of course, is that record keeping is an important way for me to organize what I know about my kids’ progress and then share that progress with others.
Luckily for me, one of my third grade teammates is a record keeping ninja master and also keeps her records in a digital grade book.
When I asked her to share her gradebook with me I was all jazzed to set up a copy of my own and input all my kiddos’ information. I began transferring all my grades from my paper-pencil gradebook into my pretty new excel spreadsheet. Fairly immediately I faced some complications. “Why is that cell turning yellow?”I asked myself. “How do I make it say 9/20, not Sep-20!? ARGH!”
My colleague’s gradebook was too fancy for me. She, being much more practiced and comfortable with excel, had made all these nifty sums and formulas in her book that I didn’t really understand or know how to change. I almost gave up. Remember that continuum I created for tech integration? The one where using tech makes my job harder and take longer? The one where I want to throw the computer out the window? Yeah, I was there
Here’s where I think knowing yourself and acknowledging your limitations and needs as a learner is the way to move forward. I knew that I wanted to use those fancy formulas someday, but today was not going to be that day. So I started my own workbook (which was surprisingly easy) in googlesheets.
I chose googlesheets because I’d already established some comfort and competence with other google apps like docs and slides. I also liked the idea of being able to review and input my gradebook from anywhere like I do with my students’ google docs. Although my own workbook was much simpler than the one my teammate uses it made sense to me because I had built it. I may have to color code each little cell with color one at a time but it was worth it for me to not give up at that moment.
I’ve since played around with the gradebook provided in the google suite and I encourage you to check it out, especially if you’re a secondary teacher with multiple classes to manage. I like some of the features like displaying the percentage right next to the number of correct answers. I also like that there’s a tab to show your classes’ data as graphs.
I plan to continue to work to find all the right tools within the gradebook that I find useful for organizing and sharing student information but I am happy with the start I’ve made and am hopeful for the future.
Pushing myself this year to become more tech savvy has clarified for me what I value when looking for places to integrate more tech; what makes connecting with my students easier? what makes communicating with others more efficient? what helps my kids engage with content? It has also helped me remember what it feels like to be a novice at something that is challenging and frustrating. It’s been a great reminder of how my students must be feeling when I’m asking them to try something new that’s still unclear to them.
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