Simplify Attendance and Grade Entry

When I was a first year teacher, I observed one of the P.E. teachers at my school as she marked students present on her roster. Instead of checkmarks, she used dots for present students. I adopted this shortcut immediately and developed it further into my own shorthand for my gradebook. Although my district requires electronic entry of attendance and grades, I still prefer to maintain a paper version for quick reference (e.g. grading student work while waiting for an appointment or showing a missing assignment to a student while walking around my classroom).

TIP #1: When entering student attendance data on your attendance sheet (download for FREE in my store), use a single dot to indicate if a student is present or a circle if the student is absent. AttendanceCodesI then code the dot with “ED” if a student has early dismissal or I’ll fill in the circle with “TE” for Tardy-Excused or “TU” for Tardy-Unexcused.

TIP #2: When entering grades in your gradesheet (download for FREE in my store), use a single dot if a student receives full credit, the number grade if the number is less than 100%, or a circle if an assignment is not turned in. GradingCodesWhen I transfer the grades from my paper gradebook to my electronic gradebook, I highlight the circles in YELLOW so I know that I’ve entered the grade as-is. If the work is submitted within the late deadline for reduced credit but after I’ve entered the grades online, I’ll change the online grade AND use pink highlighter over the previously yellow-highlighted circle to indicate that I’ve changed the grade already.

Download my FREE rainbow-themed attendance-and-gradesheet-thumbnailAttendance and Gradesheets here at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

What systems have you developed to help you streamline your everyday tasks?

Teacher Binder Organization Tips


My teacher binder, AKA my lifeline during the school year, contains the most important documents for my day-to-day work:

  • attendance rosters
  • student grade sheets
  • paperwork about students’ learning needs
  • students’ “All About Me” forms from the beginning of the school year
  • logs for student behavior and parent contact
  • work for absent students
  • school forms


My tips for organization:

1) Use tabbed dividers to separate the papers for each class.

table-of-contentsOn the back of the divider, I attach paperclips to the top and bottom to hold extra copies of assignments for students who are absent from class. That way, when I flip open the section for the class to take attendance, the assignment is readily available for me to hand to the student when he or she returns. Back-of-dividerBecause I teach in 3 different classrooms, it’s easier for me to hold onto handouts for my students instead of setting up a separate station in each classroom where students can go to pick up their missed work.


2) Within each class section, use brightly colored paper to divide the contents further.

Each class section in my binder is ordered:

  • Students’ attendance and grade sheets printed double-sided (FREE in my store)
  • Colored paper divider
  • Paperwork on students’ learning needs (IEPs and 504s)
  • Colored paper divider
  • Students’ “All About Me” sheets from their class syllabus
  • Colored paper divider
  • Other, for example: If a student struggles with making appropriate behavior choices, I simply jot down the date and a few notes on a piece of paper (a description of the behavior and consequences, including parent communication, if applicable), and this paper is filed with the student’s class section.
What organizational systems do you use to keep track of your student data? I would love to know your tips!

Rhythm Cards

Rhythm Cards thumbnail

When I began teaching at my current school a few years ago, I discovered that my students struggled with differentiating between subdivided beat patterns. Reading and performing these rhythms with sixteenth note and eighth note combinations were intimidating. While rummaging through my personal office supplies at home one day, I discovered many sets of 5×8 index cards and decided to create these rhythm cards for my students to reinforce these rhythmic patterns.

Ideas for learning and/or assessment activities:

1. Display the cards for full-class or individual sight reading.
They can be displayed on the chalk/whiteboard using magnets (these are similar to the ones I bought years ago at the DollarTree which are not available online), on the ledge of the chalkboard or upright piano, on music stands, on the floor, etc.
Note: These are especially handy if you are extracting challenging rhythms from your repertoire to teach in a warm-up with your students before they see the actual music. Post the rhythms, practice, add ties if needed, etc.  If the cards are laminated, you may write the counts with a dry-erase marker and re-use.

2. Composition: This is one of my students’ favorite collaborative activities! Student groups are given a number of cards (4 for 1 measure in 4/4 time, 6 for 2 measures in 3/4 time, etc.) to arrange in the order they prefer, and they must work together to read and perform it.

Suggestions on how to differentiate this activity:

  • Intentional grouping of students and/or assignment of particular rhythms
  • Come up with a “creative” way to present (my students have done dance routines, cheers, body percussion, mock conversations by adding inflection to rhythm speaking, animal noises, etc.)
  • Assign pitches to each note and be prepared to sing your pattern
    (my students use solfege syllables to aid them with this)
  • Assign words to each note and speak the rhythm as a rap

3. Aural recognition and dictation
Students are given a set of cards and must raise the card that matches the rhythm they hear. Determine if your students can distinguish between four 16th notes in a row and another rhythm with an 8th note and two 16th notes pattern. If you speak the rhythm with your counting system, are they successful in identifying it? What if you simply play the rhythm, requiring them to mentally decode the rhythm in order to match what they hear to the visual/tactile manipulative in front of them?

How would you use these rhythm cards in YOUR classroom?

These rhythm cards are available for FREE in my store here. Rhythm-Cards-thumbnailIn addition to the original 5×8 index card size, the rhythm cards are also available 2/page in the standard 8.5 x 11 size. I recommend printing several copies of the cards on cardstock and laminating them for durability.
Note: If you click the “Follow Me” button on my store, you’ll be notified when new products are posted.

I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback! Please share your thoughts in a comment below.