I've been a slow learner this week. Although I know about our browser woes, I started new discussions with students in their private forums that we are using as journals. I ended up with sad children who thought I hadn't written back to them because they couldn't see the second message since Internet Explorer mashes all of the links together. I finally figured out what was going on and happiness reigns once more.
I did my first grading in Moodle. Since I will be coordinating the environmental ed trip next year, I set up two forums. One is for students to tell me what was great about this year's trip; these are the things I shouldn't change. The second forum is for discussing ways to make the trip better.
My initial standards are quite low. If they successfully posted in both forums, and their post was at least remotely on topic, they earned full points. The grading itself was easy. In the forum set up, I designated how many points were possible and that I was the only one who could give grades. Now when I read a response, there is a drop down menu to let me select the score. The students don't see that option.
If I had allowed them to give grades as well, there are all sorts of interesting options. They could grade each other's comments in regards to relevance or with points. The Moodle can even do some fancy score balancing if numerous scores are given for one response.
For now we kept it simple. I scored the responses that were submitted. The next day, I showed the children how to access their grades primarily so they had an easy was to see if they had posted in both forums. They seemed to like checking their grades, especially since they were getting such good ones.
I don't keep my main gradebook online yet, but this lets me see the power in doing that. I think there is some sort of plug in that would allow me to post my Easy Grade Pro records online with parent passwords. I may look into that for next year, even though that really ups the pressure on me.
In any case, I once again had children pouring over each other's responses, and when their computers allowed them to do so, they left replies. This still enchants me since the children reading through all these responses are so often the ones who refuse to read during our silent reading time, and refuse to write on writing assignments. I hope they never figure out that these ARE reading and writing assignments.