Administrivia Sucks

It takes too long to cut and paste the records for over two hundred students from Datatel into Excel. Into anything, for that matter. In Word, it comes out as a tab delimited jumble that doesn’t reorganize properly into a table. In Excel, I have to copy each name and student number one at a time.

And grading has now officially begun with the first tutorial response (of eight assigned) in Western Civ to grade. I want to get them all done by tomorrow night. It’s possible. They’re only supposed to be one paragraph, each.

But first I have to finish the gradebook. sigh

Ninety-nine student names and IDs to go! Ninety-nine entries to go! If one of those students should happen to drop, ninety-eight student names and IDs to go in my book!

2 Responses to “Administrivia Sucks”

  1. Douglas Keachie Says:

    This post is formatted for fast reading, just like the program it describes. The formatting does not work for every posting situation.

    It is a shameless promotion of a scheme to save teachers from going to Stress City when grades are due. It’s my little bit to save the world, one classroom at a time. I wish I had this system waaaay back when!

    I used to do classes in Excel for other teachers as a Mentor Teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District. I have since upgraded the concept and am now producing, and still developing a grade book called, “The Rolling GradeBook,” which is described in detail at

    One big difference between this one and all the rest is that it can be used by the person who knows no Excel, right out of the box, and yet it has every whiz-bang feature I can think of, and I keep adding to it, from those mentioned to me by teachers after they’ve used it. As time and inclination permit, the teacher can learn the magic (how Excel works) behind the scenes.

    It’s sort of like buying a car. With the Rolling GradeBook you can get in, turn on the key, and drive off. It can be used the night before grades are due, if necessary. Later on, if you wish, you can find out how the motor and the electric headlight wipers work.

    Another big difference is that this system assumes that you’d rather walk around the classroom with a clipboard and a piece of paper with your current students neatly listed on it, with space for writing, than to be chained to a laptop or desktop, lugging a tablet PC, or trying to squint at a Palm Pilot.

    A third difference between this and the rest, except others based on Excel, is the ability annotate in great detail any assignment, grade, or code for attendance or misbehavior, while it is still fresh in your mind. You get to use Excel’s comment feature for this, and, if that is not enough room, or you wish to add photos or sound bites, you can simply add in another tabbed worksheet to your file, and use the comment to reference that tab. A missing work indicator instantly shows up in the classroom or Internet posts, even in the summary postings, so that the student cannot declare that they didn’t know that anything was missing.

    Each class and each grading period gets its own Excel file, which can be “saved as” incrementally during the report card period for maximum safety, security, and speed. Each class can thus have its own password, and the files are small enough to fit on a 1.44 floppy, and the program avoids all the hassles of database rebuilds, connecting to the Internet, slow connections and computers (this will run fast on pre-Pentium computers), and monthly or yearly fees. You cannot get “lost,” as long as you can remember your file names, which can be as clear as, “Period_1__Monday_Day_1.xls,” etc. The day of the period is clear identified inside each file, right above the data you are entering, along with the day of the week, and the date of the year.

    You can still post as much information about grades and attendance as you like to the classroom wall or the Internet, with the student’s names anonymized, and the anonymization changeable daily if necessary. There is plenty of room for IEP’s, etc., to be tucked safely away from casual eyes. You can also develop graphs from the data, and easily import and export data to your District administrators.

    As I am slightly visually impaired, the program makes extensive use of the formatting and color coding capabilities of Excel. It is ideal for people with low vision.

    And, “Yes Virginia,” you do get to assign weighing factors to each and every assignment, but I recommend you do that for tests, quizzes, papers and projects only. Besides, handing back one of the above, graded 0 -100, and telling the class it has a factor of 5, gives them practice in multiplication. They can easily see the effect in the grade postings.


    Retired and rolling on…


  2. Douglas Keachie Says:

    For your immediate problem, if you can get a printout of the DataTel information, and then scan it in using a good scanner and a program like Omnipage Pro, it will be way faster, at least the 2nd and 3rd times you do it.

    Paper still has it’s place !