Online access to grades – yay or nay?


The ability to check my children’s grades online and the weekly emails from their teachers have made me feel like an enabler and contributed to the possibility of me being helicopter-ish.

It’s true. I like the “real-time” check on how my children are doing, and that I am “in the know” on what they are studying and if they have an upcoming test or not (because they sure don’t tell me.)

But here’s the rub. I get an email from a teacher about a vocabulary quiz on Friday. I feel like I need to ask my child “Did you know you have a quiz on Friday? Did you study? Where are the vocab words?”

In reality, my child should be responsible and pay attention in class and already know this. And he probably did. But if he didn’t, I have just saved him from a bad grade, a possible lesson in reality. Is anyone going to do that for him in college? Is his mommy going to remind him about finals when he is 20 years old? Or that he has that big presentation at work the next morning?

Let’s talk about the online grade card. It’s great. It’s better than only seeing your grade every nine weeks, like back in 1986. I can see every worksheet, quiz, test and project and the final grade. So if my child had an A in math, and then starts getting Ds and Fs on assignments, I will know right away and can talk to him to correct the problem.

On the other hand, shouldn’t my child be accountable and realize he is getting these not-so-great grades and make an effort HIMSELF? Without me telling him?

What if I see that his grades are slipping, but don’t say anything to him? Am I a horrible parent? I would assume he would know – do I just wait until he says something? Let him suffer the consequences? Tough love?

My head would say tough love, my heart would by breaking…


High Tech U

I grew up with chalkboards and whiteboards, overhead projectors, filmstrips and VHS tapes. The first time I remember having a classroom computer was in high school. My teachers did not have e-mail. My report cards were printed and came in the mail or were sent home with a parent during conferences. And if you forgot your lunch money? Well, you were just out of luck.

Times have changed. My boys (kindergarten and 1st grade) have Promethean boards in their classrooms, as well as at least four notebook computers. Once a week, each class goes to computer lab where they play educational games and learn basic life skills: using a mouse and navigating through websites.

One day, my 1st grader explained how they would take an upcoming test about the bones of the body. The teacher uses a laptop and projects a skeleton on the wall. Each student uses a “clicker” to record the answer. No pencil. No paper. No waiting anxiously to see your grade. No “A+” written in red. It’s real time. A very efficient way for a teacher to gauge how well the students know the material.

The clicker is not just used for tests. It is also records how many students are eating a hot school lunch, and how many students brought their own lunch from home. In the old days they must have tallied the number of hot lunches by hand. What a pain in the neck.

My youngest mentioned that they watched a movie in class. I made the mistake of asking “Did the teacher wheel a big TV into the classroom and pop in a VHS tape?” He looked at me funny and said, “No…we just watched it on the Promethean board.” At least I didn’t mention a filmstrip.

I love that I get e-mails, text messages and online report cards. And this year I was able to enroll both of them on the district website, which includes an account for school meals. The district even has a twitter account.

My children think this is no big deal. They grew up digitally connected. But I wonder what teachers do with students who misbehave? Gone are the days of staying after school and writing “I will not…” 100 times. Maybe they have to count the hot lunches by hand.

Related posts:
Jan. 22, 2009: My Children are Digital Natives…and I’m a Digital Immigrant