Online access to grades – yay or nay?

a-grade

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…

My One School Year Request

DSC_0260 cropped(Disclaimer:  I think teachers are one of the most important people in a child’s life. Teachers posses more patience, more energy and more excitement in one school year than I have in one hour. Teachers are helping our little ones become responsible members of society. And the last thing they need to be hearing is me complaining about something. But here goes…)

On this First Day of School Eve, I want to send a request to all teachers and room parents:

When sending home papers, please include something that tells me which room/grade/teacher/child this particular paper is meant for.

Here’s the deal…I’m usually organized. I have two calendars that sync together with my phone, meshing my work and home life into one big calendar. We’ve never been late for the bus, and I’ve never missed a parent teacher conference, a music program or school party (that I said I would go to…)

But here’s where it all falls apart: When one child’s papers, assignments, notes or classroom instructions get mixed up with the other child’s papers, assignments, notes or classroom instructions.

Example:

“For our Halloween party we will be making scary snacks! Please bring one of the following to class by Friday. For questions, contact Jane (Jordan’s mom) at XXX-XXX-XXXX .”

“We are doing a special project at school! Please bring 3 empty paper towel cardboard inserts to school by Wednesday.”

“In order for me to better get to know your child, please fill out the following questionnaire and send it back with your student on the first day of school.”

Do you see the problem here? I don’t know who Jordan is. And what if both my children have a Jordan in their class? Which class is doing the special project? Which one of my boys do you want to get to know?

And don’t say “just ask your child,” Anyone with children knows how this turns out.

“Whose paper is this?” –> “I don’t know.”

Well, did your teacher say you were having a party?” –> “I don’t know.”

“Do you have a child in your class named Jordan ?” –> “Um…maybe. Well…no, I guess not. But there’s a Jordan in the classroom next to me.”

“Who has a child in their class named Jordan?” –> “I might, but can’t be for sure.”

This probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I had a 5th grader and a 1st grader. Maybe I could figure it out based on the content of the paper. But you see, my boys are one grade year apart. Which makes it extra tricky.

I did buy some magnetic file holders that each child is supposed to put their papers in. But come on, do they do this every day? No. Sometimes all the papers end up on the kitchen table. And that’s where the trouble begins.

So please, teachers and room parents, help a sister out and include something on your take home papers that would tell me which paper goes with which child. A simple “5th grade party!” or a room number or the teacher’s name would work just fine. I know I can’t be the only one who has mixed up papers…am I?

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