I met with my mentor this week, and although I was basically on the right track, she gave me some great ideas and some new directions to go in. Mostly we tweaked the grid that lists my accomplishments and how they impact students.
We deleted, combined and added things. One thing that I’m going to do is to have some video tutorials on the website for parents. This shows my interaction and collaboration with families. I am creating the videos myself using PowerPoint and SlideBoom, which turns the PowerPoints into Flash videos right online, which are easily added to my website. Here’s a link to a tutorial I created on Vocabulary. My mentor thinks that it is too technical for parents, and I agree, so I will be editing this one, but in case there’s anyone actually reading this blog, I wanted to have an example. : ) I’d also welcome any ideas/advice on editing the tutorial.
Another thing that I am going to, to show communication with families, is to post my grades online – eeeek! I have always resisited this because I am one of those teachers who has a stack of things that need to be graded in the days before grades are due. However, it’s also been a personal goal to improve the speed at which I grade things, so if parents can see my gradebook, then I have to be more on top of the grading.
Earlier in the school year, my Assistant Principal actually asked me to research some online grading programs. There was one program in particular that stood out for me – TeacherEase. The reason I liked TeacherEase the best was because it had an integrated Lesson Plan component and the ability to align grades with standards. Their trial offer is limited to 3 at any school, and when I tried to sign up for one, I got a message saying that my school was already signed up. So I went back to my list and ended up with SnapGrades. SnapGrades is a very easy to use online gradebook that allows parents to access thier child’s grades. Parents can also set it up to automatically receive an email with their child’s grades every Friday (or whatever day they choose) and/or if their child’s grades fall below a certain grade. I can also email reports home, which is a great paper saver. The gradebook itself has some great features; you can do a What If for when kids ask what grade they need on an assignent to get up to the next letter grade. It also can show you what the impact of an assignment grade was on the overall grade. Another feature, which is good for where I live, is that the reports can automatically be translated into Spanish. The trial that I have goes through October 2008, so I can try it with real students for a while. Then it’s only $50 for a single, year-long subscription.