In Veracross' planbook, there are status buttons for assigned tasks. They include:
* Turned In / Not Graded
* Not Turned In
Now, I noticed that some of these statuses turned their fields different colours. For example, 'Not Turned In' turned the field red, while 'Incomplete' turned the field orange... hrm... how could I use that to my advantage? I decided to use the colours to colour-code my transdisciplinary skills. At the start of every class, I did attendance and asked my PYP grade 5s to show me their instruments and sheet music. If they brought both, they got 'Complete,' which displays as a check mark. If they forgot one of those items, they got 'Incomplete' (orange) and if they forgot, they got 'Not Turned In' (red). Then, I immediately created a new assignment for the upcoming week. This was really fantastic because:
a) The kids and their parents always knew when to pack their music gear for school
b) I could instantly see, by colour, who was having difficulties with self-management
c) Parent-Teacher interviews were so much easier when I had dates and specifics.
Was I using the gradebook properly? No? After all, a reminder to bring their supplies was not exactly an assignment (and I was clicking the 'Add Assignment' button). And technically speaking, the kids who forgot their supplies hadn't 'Not Turned In' their work. But was Veracross working for me? Absolutely yes! It was keeping me, the kids, and their parents organised, and it was providing me with fast, obvious, hard-data on the kids' self-management transdisciplinary skills.
Another example? The dropbox. I never both with the dropbox because it only accepts 18 MB submissions. Any DW that is under 700 MB worries me because DWs normally run between 700 MB and 1.5 GB in size. So what do I do with the dropbox? I use its different colour-coding system exactly as above. Now with the older kids, I also can quickly, visually see how my kids are doing.
Today I was talking to Bonnie about Veracross, since she's taking over my grade 5s for me. I commented that I love Veracross, but that I feel a bit strange that while it is one of my most valuable pedagogical tools, I don't think I use it properly. But then again... She assured me that Veracross is an awesome tool, to be used as a tool.
What about you? Do you have any tools that you are forced to use at school that you can tweak for your own working style? What tool have you conquered, and therefore grown to love?