Classroom is a very flexible application. Because of School Data Solution's philosophy of continuous development based on educator input, we have designed Classroom to meet the needs of both a traditional and a standards-based gradebook. We have built-in features which allow educators to work in whatever manner they choose. We do not say, "This is the only way you can work." Instead, we ask, "How do you want to work?" And based on your responses build functions to suit you. Therefore, Classroom will continue to evolve.
When you first start working in Classroom, consider not what you have historically done to create, manage, and maintain a gradebook, but what you would like to do. For instance:
- If you are a middle school teacher of only one subject, like math, you can create a gradebook for each period, grading students period by period; or, you can create a single gradebook for all your periods and grade every student at once. If you use different assignments for different periods you may want to create separate gradebooks for each period; however, if you use the same assignments for every period, you need only create one gradebook.
- Are you an elementary teacher who has second and third grade students in your class? Perhaps you would like to create two gradebooks, one for each grade. Are you co-teaching based on subject? Then maybe you and your co-teacher willl need one gradebook for each subject, and for the subject you do not teach you can be made a contributor.
- Are you a new teacher with no curriculum? Or are you teaching a new grade level or subject? You can ask another educator in your district to share their gradebook with you via a gradebook template to help get you started.
Again, Classroom does not dictate how you should work, but provides you with flexibility to work as you like.
Another unique feature of Classroom is the ability for educators to generate their own content in the form of questions and assignments. If you have a curriculum in place, this may seem unnecessary, but consider that
- Classroom replaces any authoring activities you currently perform with a streamlined, point and click interface, which promotes subject and grade level collaboration across the district.
- Classroom allows for content which is searchable by standard, difficulty level, or complexity.
- Classroom provides a repository for all your coursework and assessments that is infinitely available to you. There is no need to maintain binders full of paper copies! No need to duplicate countless sheets of paper. No need for creative uses of correction fluid.
- The content you generate is available with a few clicks. It can be copied, modified, deleted and yes, even printed.
- Classroom provides integration to third-party item banks, for instance, the NWEA, which has over 75,000 questions aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). So, you do not have to invent questions if you do not want to.
- The content you create can be shared with other educators in your district. If you like an assignment another teacher has created ask them to share it!
Since all questions, assignments or assessments, and even certain gradebooks, created and housed in Classroom can be shared, these three structures provide organization for the application. The questions are the foundation of all assignments, and the assignments are gathered together to form a gradebook. And just like your traditional curriculum planning, you can create any of the three structures first and fill in with the rest as needed. So, you can
- create a gradebook, then create an assignment within it, and then create standards-based questions within the assignment; or
- you can consider the standards you teach to, create questions that align to those standards, gather the questions into an assignment with a learning target, and compile various assignments to form a gradebook.
In either scenario, Classroom allows you to share what you have created with other educators in your district. It allows you to copy questions and assignments to banks. And of course, it allows you to modify what you have created and gathered to suit any situation. Classroom makes it easy to create a pre- and post-assessment, a weekly quiz, a list of directives, a research project, a weekly definition list, a scored essay, or any activity students perform that you score and that culminates into a grade. And, if you are grading by standard, their performance on the individual questions aligned to those standards will tell you whether or not they have mastered it.
So while you are learning this new application, remember that Classroom was designed to give you the freedom to work as you please, with tools that make your work easy and effective.
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