Communicating with Your Child’s Teachers

Today’s post is written by Bonnie Leaf, MA.  Ms. Leaf is a special education teacher and owner of Access to Achieve an education services consulting firm outside of Denver, CO.  Ms. Leaf’s post is part of this week’s series on student information systems.

As a parent and educator, I have a unique perspective on Infinite Campus and how it can be used to its fullest potential.  Here’s the tough part: Infinite Campus (IC) does not come with a user’s manual.  It is up to parents to learn how to use it as a tool to keep as up-to-date as possible with how their child is doing in school.  Here are some basics and strategies I have learned over the years:

Have a user name and password.  By October, most schools have helped parents set up their username and password, and have showed them how to access IC.  If you haven’t done this, contact your child’s school and set up your account.  By the way, your child should have their own username and password to access the system, too.

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Check IC weekly.  Teachers typically ask that parents set a routine for checking grades about once weekly with their child.  Since your child knows the most up-to-date information, it is best to review grades with him or her so that you get the correct information.  There is usually a story to be told within a weekly grade report and your child can tell that story.  If you want to know how your child is doing aside from a grade, ask questions and don’t jump to conclusions.  Some classes do not lend themselves to entering new grades weekly or bimonthly.  Art, for example, could be based more on long term projects.

Understand how a grade book is divided into different sections and how each section is assigned a weighted percentage of the total grade.   Teachers assign a title and weighted percentage to each section of their grade book.  Summative assessments like projects and tests are usually assigned more weight than classwork and homework.  If your child’s teacher lists homework as part of a grade, know if the grade is for completion only or if it is graded for correctness.  The category and weight of a section tells a story as well.  The value of an assignment, test, quiz, or project lets you know where the emphasis lies.

Know how to read and interpret IC.  Teachers often enter the name of an assignment on the grade book yet leave the grade space blank if that assignment has not been completed or graded.  If an assignment is missing, some teachers will write “M,” “Missing,” “O,” or leave a blank space where the grade should be.  Ask your child and/or teacher for clarification.

Look for patterns.  Assignments, such as current events; or quizzes, such as spelling, can tell a story.  Look beyond the grade to see how your child is preparing for the weekly assignments and quizzes.  Over time, your child should be developing a system  that becomes more efficient as the year progresses.  If your child continues to get the same grade weekly (or they get worse), examine the system with your child and help them tweak it for better results.

Managing Your Student’s Information

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Welcome to Student Information Systems Week! This week we are going to be hearing from experts on how to manage your student’s grades through the online programs many schools are now using.  In my neck of the woods, everyone seems to be using Infinite Campus.  Boy do I hear a lot about it in my neighborhood, on the street, and in my office.  Some folks love this technological tool that allows parents and students to view teachers’ grade books in real time.  Others feel that the technology is just another way for “helicopter parents” to keep tabs on their kids.  I’m not sure where I stand at this point in the week, but I do know that I see a lot of conflict between parents and kids around Infinite Campus use.

Do you have an opinion about this technology?  Are there ways to use it well?  Poorly?  I would love to hear your point of view!