Monday, July 30, 2012

Made 4 Math - Digi-Organization

I finally found out my schedule for this coming school year.  It is more special educationish and less mathish than my schedule has been the last few years.  But with that information in hand, I was able start getting my stuff organized for the upcoming year.

Each year the school provides a planner/gradebook like this:

I attempted to use it years ago, but it did not work for me. I've made paper templates for a planner and used them with limited success.  I thought about developing a database in Access to manage these things, but it was too much and I gave up. I tried out Planbook software, but it was just too much stuff and not quite what I wanted.  I have been using an excel spreadsheet for my gradebook and I've mostly liked it.

For this week's Made 4 Math Monday I decided that what I really want is for my planner and gradebook and all my notes and organizational thinking to be put together in one place and the only way to make that happen was to make it myself.  Enter Bento.  Bento is a super simple database program. It is not a relational database, so it is limited in what is can do.  I like that it is simple and that it has iPhone and iPad versions. I'm thinking if this works successfully I will probably buy those and work out how to have the data sync/share appropriately.  I downloaded the free trial of Bento, but will have to pony up the purchase price should I actually implement this as my trial period expires before school starts.  So far I like and dislike the simplicity of the program, but think I might find it useful.

I have done some preliminary work and here are some screenshots of what I have so far.


My launch-off point is the view of all the tables I created and put in the 2012-2013 School Year folder.  

Daily Planner

We have an 8 period day (plus a period for lunch).  My planner form has space for all my classes (some periods I teach two different courses) and room to jot down plans/meetings/to dos for my preparation periods.  Sizes were adjusted for the typical amount of space I figure I'll need to jot down the overview of what I plan on doing.  Preparation periods are slimmer, content classes beefier.  I've created records for each day of the year and included important calendar information in the notes section.

Quarter Long Range Planner

My school requires us to complete a long-range plan for each quarter to submit to the principal so that she knows generally what each class should be doing should a parent or LEA (Local Education Agency) call to enquire about what a particular kiddo is working on.  This form provides a space to generally describe what will happen each week in the first quarter in a class. I've already created a record for each class I'll be teaching.

Daily Notes

I'm not sure how useful this particular form will be, but I wanted a place to record random tidbits, things to remember, and notes to myself.  I have a feeling this will go by the wayside once I get overwhelmed, but I'm going to give it a try.

Objective Data

As a special educator, I need to keep data on student progress on their IEP goals and objectives.  This form gives me a space to record objectives and data each quarter.  I have a feeling that I'll need to enlarge the data boxes as time progresses, but for now the arrangement felt pleasing to my eye.


I am least satisfied with my Gradebook template.  This is where some of the limitations of Bento are annoying me.  It limits in the spacing of the cells and limits in the types of calculations it performs. Also, since it is not a relational database I can't have it automatically take values from one table to be used in another.  For each assignment, a student receives an initial grade.  It is my school's policy that students fix or error repair grades that show poor understanding or poor quality work (less than 80 percent generally).  During the first quarter I average their initial score with their improved score.  This average is the grade that counts.  On a positive, I can export the data to excel, so if I hate it and it is unmanageable, I can always revert to the excel gradebook I have used in the past.  I'm giving this a go because I really want one central place to keep all my data.

I don't know if any of this is helpful to anyone else as one of the major reasons I've created it is that the many unique quirks of my particular school make using others' stuff unwieldy.  We have an eight period day, my largest class is 9 students this year, I teach two classes some periods, and I have job responsibilities outside of my teaching that I need to keep track of.  All of this compelled me to customize.  I'm hoping it will work for me!


  1. Thanks for sharing! I've looked at digital options, but there's something about writing on paper that appeals to me :) However, I may have to give Bento a try! It looks pretty cool!

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