When I was newer to teaching, assignment tracking was impossible to me. I simply couldn’t figure out how to keep up with who had turned in what, much less hold them accountable. Papers were constantly flying everywhere and flicking through them and marking infinite tick marks felt like an endless if not impossible task.
Then came the actually impossible task of accountability. Most schools don’t allow students to fail simply because they don’t turn in their work. And even if they did, we all know they’re still going to be promoted to the next grade at the end of the year anyway. In fact, my school uses standards based grading, which means that “classwork” shouldn’t really be used in final marks at all!
My Solution to Assignment Tracking
Presenting: The Assignment Checklist. I create this LIVE spreadsheet using Google Sheets and give my students “view only” access through a link which I post on Google Classroom. You can add the link to this document at the end of every parent email too. Anytime someone clicks the link, they’re seeing the latest info. If I edit it now, you see the changes now.
I add different tabs for different classes which you can see at the bottom of the screen. I also don’t think it would be any issue to use student numbers as opposed to names if you have any issues with privacy. Just make sure to *also* require the students to put their student number on the top papers if you do it that way.
As the unit progresses, I add the name of each assignment to the top of the list. You can see those in the image above in the row of fun colors. I try to be REALLY descriptive with what the title of the assignment is, so that students who miss it will be able to find it again.
In order to level up from there, I’ve even started labeling the assignments #1, #2, #3, etc. before I copy them. As an added measure of thoroughness, I also create another Google Slide document called the “Daily Agenda” which contains notes on what we completed each day in class, AND PICTURES!!!! (Yes, this takes time.) I again give access to students as a view only link just like the one you may have just clicked.
I have a dream of one day uploading every assignment on Google Drive, and actually adding a link to them through the Assignment Checklist. Did you know you can make an entire cell in Google Sheets link to an address? Regardless, I haven’t managed to organize myself this well yet.
Maybe you already keep a paper version of this. I would encourage you to go digital for 2 reasons
- Access from any device.
- Able to give students “view only” access. Students can see but not edit.
- Live documents remove any lag of communication between teacher and student/parent.
As a bonus tip, I also keep a link to my assignment tracking spreadsheet in my main bookmark bar. Because I use it so much, it helps to be able to reach it in one click. See below.
What to Do When Things Get Turned In
Generally, I have two piles: (which I keep in folders because I don’t have my own classroom, but that’s neither here nor there) marked and unmarked. The marked folder is full of assignments I have flicked through and given checks on the Assignment Checklist. The unmarked is the ones which I still need to do. As a personal preference, I also don’t enforce any due dates except that everything must be submitted before the end of the unit. Obviously, projects have due dates, but classwork and homework I take anytime. Doing anything else has only exhausted me.
I hold all assignments until the end of the unit in a small rallying cry against cheating. Generally, my smarter students still take photos of their assignments and send to friends before relinquishing them to me. I have yet to find a solution to this, but I will write another blog post when I do.
Conveniently, the Google Sheet also allows you to type any other notes that need to be remembered in the cell. I make a separate denotation for when a student simply tells me they have completed an assignment and when I see it with my eyes. Typing the word “done” or “gave me” satisfies the student who is generally attempting to convince me that I have somehow lost their paper in an act of pure carelessness. I, on the other hand, am secretly noting to myself that I have not seen this assignment. I never lose anything.
How to Motivate Work Submission while Simultaneously Assignment Tracking
Now get ready for my only moment of true genius. I call it: The Blue Line of Excellence. I use this term often and with reverence. You’ll notice in the image above that students who have submitted all their assignments have their row highlighted in a fun blue color. That, folks, is the Blue Line of Excellence.
Students who earn the Blue Line of Excellence get their name printed out in a cute font and posted on the wall. And yes, that’s all they get for work submission. It works, though!
Don’t get me wrong. If the students ask if homework will affect their final score, I ABSOLUTELY lie and say yes. I’m sorry.
Teaching is a hard job! It’s even harder when you feel like you don’t have anyone in your corner. I’d love to connect and chat with you about all things classroom management related! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or add me on Instagram @laney.leee
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