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Tracking Grades and Why I Create Report Cards

math testWhy Keep Track of Grades?

Tracking grades helps me have a record to look back on to see how the children have progressed in each subject.

In some states keeping track of grades is mandatory, however many states (such as ours) require only attendance records and mention nothing about grades. It’s up to you if want to record your child’s grades. Some parents use a portfolio which may include samples of their child’s best work, photos of projects, a list of field trips, and a list of any community service work their child has done. Other parents record numerous tests, daily grades, project grades, and so forth.

I don’t recommend grading every piece of paper your child completes, nor do I recommend putting a large amount of emphasis on the grade for each test or project. It’s more important to encourage a child to do their best, follow directions, and use neatness. For this reason I rarely discuss grades for individual projects or quizzes with the children. After a written test they immediately want to know how many they got wrong, but this is typical for everyone, no matter our age.

science social studies exampleHow Can I Grade Subjects Like PE and Art?

I keep track of grades from tests, oral quizzes and project grades for most subjects.Then at the end of the quarter every subject gets a daily work grade which is usually decided based on these three factors:

1. Completed daily assignments on-time
2. Neatness
3. Followed Instructions

For subjects like PE where there typically isn’t any written assignments I grade the children on:

1. Participation (always trying their best)
2. Attitude (willingness to do what is asked with minimal complaining)
3. Following Instructions

These same factors can be applied to Art or Music as well. Don’t be too easy or too hard on your children. Think about their work from an outsider’s perspective. Did they really put forth effort and try their best?

What do I Use to Track Grades?

Some people use a teacher record book or homeschool grade book.

Other families use an app like Homeschool Helper, which can be really helpful if you have a tablet or smart phone. (I’ve used it only briefly, but I liked what I saw).

I use a spreadsheet software called LibreOffice Calc (it’s very similar to Microsoft Excel). Any type of spreadsheet software should work. When I first open a new document I rename the tabs at the bottom my children’s names. Then each child has their own page.
Next I list the subjects across the top and simply copy/paste the subjects to the other children (modifying any that may different for a child in a different grade). After that it’s simple to list the date on the far left and each graded item under the subject column. Be as specific as you want to be. I’ve found giving more details helps me when I look back a few quarters later.

grades example sm

Example of spreadsheet with grades. Note the child name tabs at the bottom.

As you can see above, I put the final quarter grades in blue. For the next quarter I just skip a few lines and then keep going. It’s much easier to keep all of one year on a page, plus if you name the document Grades 2014.2015 or something similar you can easily find the year you’re wanting later on.

I HIGHLY recommend putting a copy of your child’s grades in a cloud storage place such as Google Drive or similar. Computer hard drives go bad, lightning strikes, and all sorts of mishaps can happen. A backup of their grades in a cloud storage will allow you to retrieve their grades from any computer no matter where you are, all you’ll need to do is log-in to Google.

Why Would a Home-schooled Child Need a Report Card?reportcards 2014

While a report card isn’t a NEED for most homeschool families it sure has its benefits.

#1 Our children have answers ready for the inevitable question of, “What did you make on your report card?”

#2 Local rewards for As!
Get a free doughnut at Krispy Kreme for each A (up to 6 for free). Get a free Happy Meal at select McDonald’s for straight As. Get a free game of laser tag at Lazer Zone for straight As. I’m sure there are other places that give rewards for As, but these are the ones I know of.

Get your own report cards.

Get your own achievement certificates.

Do you do things differently? Have any suggestions or comments? Please leave a comment.

 

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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Record Keeping

 

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Organizing Your Plans

photo by ChristArt.com

Probably one of the most difficult tasks as a homeschooling parent is organizing your teaching schedule.  I’ve been keeping track of what I teach our children since our oldest was 3, so only about 4 years now.  It hasn’t always been easy, but I think the biggest two questions for me have been, “What exactly should I keep track of?” and “WHY am I keeping track of this information?”

If you’re new at homeschooling let me start you off by sending you HERE before you read any further.  After you finish reading about Homeschool Planning be sure to come back and finish reading.  🙂

I started off using a simple Excel spreadsheet and typed in what books we read, games we played and any specific things I taught.  Then I changed from that format to listing what we did by subjects.  I find that listing what we do by subject isn’t as easy as it sounds because some things fall into multiple subjects and some things really don’t seem to fit anywhere.  For example, Health & Safety lessons.  I’ve seen these listed with PE, Science & even Social Studies.  For elementary age children I don’t think it really matters.

Anyway, to get back on track… The Excel spreadsheet was nice, but it just didn’t do everything I wanted so last spring I started using Homeschool Skedtrack.  This is a free program that helps you organize everything from attendance, lessons and grades to field trips and hobbies.  Two of my favorite things about this program is it allows you to print out a very nice and official looking report card, plus I can access our children’s records from any computer no matter where I am.  This means that if I’m on vacation or at the in-laws I can still easily log what we’ve done that day.

I have come to the point that I’m tired of logging each and every lesson and activity that we do throughout the day.  It’s time consuming and I don’t really see that I ever go-back and look over everything we did last week or even last quarter.  Now I’m taking a step back and looking at the big picture.  Back to the two questions I asked earlier: “What exactly should I keep track of?” and “WHY am I keeping track of this information?”

Alabama state law only requires attendance.  I obviously want to keep some type of record of what we do each school year, but having a daily list of activities may just be an over-kill.  I really like the idea of having a list of all the field trips we took for the year and a list of the resources I used for each subject.  For these reasons I plan to continue using Homeschook Skedtrack, but I plan to start using a simple checklist that I can check off as we do each subject.

In addition, I’m going to use a 3-ring binder to keep a printed copy of attendance, report cards, field trip reports, planned course of study, resources used, etc.  This is a difficult concept for me because I’m such a computer based person it seems like going in reverse to have more things on paper.  For homeschooling though, I find that it’s nice to have something in my hand that I can quickly refer back to during the day if I need to.  The 3-ring binder also makes it easy to show grandparents or other loved ones what your child has accomplished.

***Update 6/2/13
I’ve modified my record keeping a bit since this post.  Check out the changes along with pictures at “Organizing Paperwork – What to Keep?”

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Record Keeping

 

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