Buying a gradebook is like buying underwear: you use it every day, few people will look at it but it can be important to those who do, there aren’t many big differences among the different kinds, and the little differences among them can make a big difference in how well your day goes.
The typical gradebook includes a list of names down the side, space for dates across the top, and grids in between into which you can write your letter or number grades. Usually there are extra columns on the right-hand side for recording absences, tardies, or calculations. Nearly all have 10 weeks on a 2-page spread.
Essentially, you can lay out half a dozen gradebooks together — and I have — and you will find that they all look the same.
So how can you choose among them?
While size probably isn’t the most important thing, it’s a distinction if it matters to you. Most gradebooks run 8.5 x 11 inches, but Rediform does a half size one that could fit nicely in a purse.
The size of the book doesn’t necessarily correlate with the number of spaces for student names, which is very important. Ward’s grade book has space for 45 students, while most have 32- 28 spaces.
The level of contrast in the grids makes a big difference for some teachers. Carson Dellosa’s School Days Gradebook has all black and white pages, with gray alternating lines to help keep you in the right spot. Scholastic Daily Record Keeper has red dividing lines for even greater clarity. On the other hand, many people find a green or blue grid easier on the eyes. Teacher Created uses blue lines, while Ward has green and brown grids.
This is where you really come to love a particular gradebook.
- Record Book Plus from Lee Cantor has behavior management and parent communication sections as well as the grade sheets.
- The Teacher’s Friend Record Book includes a lot of extra resources like proofreaders marks, precentage charts for quickly calculating grades, and stuff like that.
- Eureka Dr. Seuss’s Cat In Hat Lesson Plan/Record Book combines the gradebook with a plan book, so you have just one thing to carry. Eureka does the combo with several different covers, too, if the Cat in the hat doesn’t suit your style.
This is where things get really different. Plastic covers are key if you drink coffee while you grade, of course, but otherwise it’s strictly an aesthetic choice.
TCR has a peace sign record book to go with your groovy retro classroom theme and a Mary Engelbreit design that announces “I’m in Charge Here!” among many others. For sheer cuteness, TCR is probably the winner.
Many who keep grades online also use a paper gradebook. It adds a step to keep both, but many find that the portability of the paper gradebook makes it essential. Being able to note in a grade quickly, consult a student’s record immediately, or take that stack of papers to mark along to a neighborhood sidewalk cafe is a must for lots of teachers. Then you can efficiently transfer the data to the database all at once.