Friday, February 18, 2011

How Excel can help with a digital gradebook.

The main driving engine of a computer, in terms of software, is the operating system.  This tells the computer how to complete main functions that it needs to complete.  There are a few different operating systems.  These are Windows, Mac OS, UNIX, and Linux systems, which are added to by application software.  There are different categories of application software which include productivity, multimedia, academic, personal, and communication programs. (Shelly, 2010)

This leads into a project that most teachers need, unless a specified program has been made mandatory by the school district.  A grade book can be made with the use of the Microsoft program Excel.  This program, much like an accountant’s book, has boxes called “cells” that allow for all types of information to be placed on a page for organizing and use.  There are all types of options and applications that can be utilized with this program.  There are many types of formatting as most word processing programs have.  There are options to make charts, graphs and formulas to perform tasks for a more professional application. 

Our project was to take a grade book that was previously created and show off our technology skills.  Some of the basics were asked, change cell colors, create a row (cells are classified with rows and columns, with a letter/number notation), create a header for the new row, and add some data.  As this was a grade book, we used sample grades.  Now up to this point it was pretty standard and easy to navigate.  There were some moderate challenges, which for example was to create another row that had averages of overall grades.  One of the most challenging pieces was to sort by grades, and to have below grade leveled students in bold.  I never did find a way or formula that would automatically bold a name if they had fall below grade level.  A formula is what is used to create a desired outcome in a cell, based on some type of variables.  This could be adding a number of cells that have numbers for totaling, or creating an average for a set of grade.  This was our task, which is under the popular functions of the top “ribbon” or toolbar of Excel.  The hardest element by far was how to make the names appear for all four marking periods.  Each new page is called a “sheet”, and with 4 sheets the change on one sheet had to appear on each of the other 3 sheets.  I did finally figure out that a “link”, had to be created that would affect changes on all sheets in the “workbook”.  The term workbook refers to the entire project that includes all sheets.  The Excel program has been extended where many database functions can be used now, which extends what can be accomplished with in this program.

As a teacher this has many different luxuries.  It allows for multiple assignments to be quickly averaged, with pinpoint accuracy.  It allows for me to see who is not doing well, by sorting by final average.  Furthermore it allowed me to see if homework was a positive or negative factor on students’ grade averages.  This allows me to enter any type of assignment and have it easily accessible for our own monitoring and makes it easy to show parents how their child is doing.  Also with darkening out other names you can show rankings, and compare to averages of assignments and overall final averages.   As a whole, Excel is very easy to use as a grade book.  But some companies have produced software that far surpasses the capabilities of Excel.  This would be great if you were to start a foundation for using technology for a grade book.  But other academic software has made it more work to set up Excel, than it creates a convenience for teachers.  Most “grade book” software imports most of the needed information and teachers just need to add assignments and the grades.  Excel is a great all around program, but for teachers there is better software being used to create digital grade books in our classrooms.

1 comment:

  1. "Excel is a great all around program, but for teachers there is better software being used to create digital grade books in our classrooms."

    I agree with the above statement from your blog. Currently, I am using Edline in my classroom. Brevard County uses this program district wide and every teacher is required by the district to update their web page once a week. In the grade book portion, I record my grades (where it automatically averages it), create report cards and interim reports, and identify below grade level students. Additionally, Edline allows me to update my calender, web page, and newsletters. Parents have direct access to their child's grades and any documents I add to my web page.

    I am very relieved that Brevard County has a set grade book program instead of using Excel. Excel is very useful, but as far as using it for a grade book, I prefer Edline after completing this assignment.