By Walter S. Coppage
A few years ago our district was given a new gradebook that promised to enhance our teaching and make grading easier. It had the ability to make seating charts and had all the bells and whistles that people who buy gradebooks loved. God bless them for they know not what they do. Skynet was supposed to solve all our problems too. For the last few years I’ve been fighting a battle against the machines. I have been fighting a battle against my gradebook.
“It doesn’t feel remorse or fear and will not stop until you are dead.” (That’s being a little dramatic but you know what I mean.)
First off, the gradebook robs time. After 15 minutes it automatically logs out causing me to have to take time away from class to login yet again. I can’t take on a rowdy class and keep the gradebook online. While I handle the rowdy class, the gradebook escapes and logs out.
The gradebook is the Terminator because its mission is to change the past to affect the future. When I’m putting in grades, if it logs out on its own, all the grades I just put in are lost. This leaves me to be on guard and continuously hit the save button which takes another 30 seconds for me to go back into the assignment I was just scoring. Sometimes the gradebook will lose grades for no reason whatsoever leaving parents emailing and kids griping about missing grades.
“Come with me if you want to live.”-Kyle Reese
A relic of an earlier age, a Five Star folder, my Kyle Reese, has been my protector for all these years against the Terminator. Each class will get a Five Star folder where I keep all their work. This way when the Terminator strikes and wreaks havoc on my grades, I have the papers and grades being protected by the Five Star folder.
For years, I taught Speech aka Communication Applications aka Professional Communications which was a semester class. Their speech grades, tests and daily work all resided in the Five Star folder. By the end of the semester, most of the Five Star folders were at capacity but I made due.
Last year I started teaching English 3 and Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) could not keep up. English 3 was locked and loaded with vocab tests, essays, interactive reader assignments and a million other papers.The past was fighting alongside the future against me.
A more organized teacher than myself might say, “Why are you keeping all those papers? You’re hoarding classwork.”
If I give students back a lot of papers, they end up in the trash or on my floor for me to pick up. Then when the Terminator strikes and I have no idea what 150 kids made on each assignment, that’s on me. Parents will not blame their child and tell them to redo the assignment. It’s not on the kid for not being able to keep track of it. It’s on me for not keeping track of it, all because The Terminator lurks.
“What about giving the students their own folder and having them keep stuff for a portfolio grade?”
I tried that a few years ago and even with a test grade at stake, they didn’t keep up with their papers and handouts. The Terminator would probably erase all the portfolio grades anyway.
I will be teaching three classes of English 3 this year and I don’t know what to do. Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) can’t do it anymore. I’m on my own in this fight. What do I use? I saw one teacher using hanging folders in her class. I could file their papers in an already packed file cabinet.
How do I win the war against the machines? How do I defeat The Terminator?