How do I set up my grade book?

Front of Grade Book

Strangely, I never entered grades into the   grade book during my student teaching.     I’m not sure why…perhaps it was the     sacredness of the grade book.  No teacher EVER wants to misplace the grade book.   In fact, I don’t know what I would do if I   ever did.  Fortunately, that has never happened to me (yet).

Now, with online grade books the norm in many districts, some teachers choose not to keep a hard copy grade book.  They find it easier to keep all records online.  Actually, I do keep my grades in an online grade book, but it gives me a sense of security and peace to have the old standby right in my hand.

Here are the reasons that I still use a hard copy grade book:

  1. I can add grades to the online version faster if they are first in alphabetical order in a column.
  2. I can grab a grade book faster during a parent/teacher conference either in person or over the telephone.
  3. I use special symbols in the grade book to indicate things such as the student was absent and did not turn the assignment in, present but did not turn the assignment in, doing the assignment over for a better grade, etc.
  4. I can use the grade book the following year to remind myself of what assignments were made in a certain period of time.

I usually do not fill out the grade book with names until after Labor Day as my classes (in high school) seem to have students moving in and out with schedule changes.  Along the bottom of the page, I enter the name of the assignment and it’s point value.

At the top of the column I enter the date the assignment was due.  Just above that date, I use a check mark, in ink, to indicate that the grade for that assignment has been entered into the online grade book.

Open grade book
Note the dates and check marks at top of columns


open gradebook
Note the name of assignment and point values at the bottom of the column.

If a student was absent, I make a small mark in the bottom right hand corner of the square where their grade should be.  If they were present, but didn’t turn it in, you can either assign a zero, or place a mark in the upper left hand corner as you can see in the photo.

If you accept late assignments, you can go ahead and enter the grade when they turn the work in, but you will now remember that student’s assignment was late.  If a student had an extremely poor grade, and I allowed corrections or “do-overs”  I put a box around the grade to indicate that the grade received was a second attempt.

Grade book markings
I do not put a “box” around grades unless they are do-overs. Two of these boxes were made only so that you could see the corner marks.

Whether or not to allow late homework will be addressed in another post.  But it is good to know in an instant during a parent meeting just why Susie didn’t get a grade for an assignment.

If you teach in a high school and have a large number of students, you may have trouble recalling just why a student didn’t hand in a paper.  Do not rely on the student to tell their parent, “I did it but the teacher lost it!”  Balderdash!  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a student make that claim!

Good record keeping will pay big dividends in the long run.  Be sure to set your grade book up and stay on top of it from the beginning!