Today I had the opportunity to train on the new grading program, Focus, with awesome teachers at Southlake Elementary. While I know that transitioning from Edline to the new program in between first and second term isn't ideal, I'd like to give a shout out to Southlake's teachers for being willing to pilot it first and help the district work out kinks before we all go live. The district is also pushing out information to us here at BFT so we can be able to answer questions and trouble shoot as well. Here are some of my initial thoughts:
~I think that it is going to be an incredible upgrade from Edline, and I'm disappointed that I won't get to use it!
~Features I think everyone will love:
**It will log you out in 24 minutes, BUT it will do a sixty second countdown before doing so and you can click to stay logged in.
**It is very social mediaesque, so the feel and look to posting messages and info will be fluid for teachers, students, and parents.
**There are Gradebook Groups which allow you to differentiate assignments. You could give one assignment to one group, and another to another group, and keep them separate grades. One group of students and parents won't be able to tell that there was a separate assignment for another group.
**Documents can be attached to the grade/assignment, so if the student was absent or needs another copy, it can be printed. Students can also upload assignments to a particular grade in the book.
**There are entry modes. You can set it so you enter the number they got wrong OR the number they got right, and it will do the percentage for you.
**There will be icons by names to indicate if the student has an IEP, 504, is ELL, or gifted
**Documentation of phone calls, conferences, etc. are accessible by all the student's teachers
~Features of which we must be cognizant:
**This gradebook is essentially live. The parents will choose how often they want to get reports. You choose three dates for each assignment: Date assigned, date due, and date published. You'll need to make sure you're publishing at least one grade a week. There's no extra posting step like in Edline, but be aware of your publishing dates.
**When a student transfers from one school to another, his or her gradebook transfers with him or her. Yes, that means the teacher who receives the student will be able to see the assignments and grades from the previous teacher and use that data to factor in how the grade infuses into his or her classroom.
I have a ton more notes, and please know that I am going to do my best to become an expert. I don't have students in classes, but I am going to watch all the videos, go to any training that I can, and soak it up so that I can help you if you need it when the time comes.