I still had a handwritten grade book -- I'm just really old-fashioned, but I needed it during my first year of teaching when I lost my grade calculations and had to reestablish the whole thing! (thus my double back-up).
Here's an article about the benefits of grading programs:
Here is an article listing several grading programs:
Your school may provide a grading program to use. If you're on your own, here are a few more ideas:
I used the Jackson Software program "GradeQuick" at one school, and eventually purchased my own copy when I was at a school w/o any grade program.
What's nice with this grade program is that you can print individualized reports. I would print out mid-quarter and end of quarter grade reports for the students -- they appreciated knowing what was in my record and could point out any errors. I would tell them that I didn't have an assistant and I needed them to check the entries. Tapping into the students' grade concern made this a useful technique.
If there were any errors in the printout, I required that they submit the graded assignment and the printout with the entry of concern circled -- there was a deadline for these submissions. It made my work a lot easier, and cut down on the "what can I do to improve my grade?" discussions.
I would also have a "pep talk" at the beginning of each quarter to encourage students to reflect and see what needs improvement. I stated that they could meet with me to figure out strategies, not to get overwhelmed but pick one area to improve on which they could focus their energy. It could be making sure homework or lab reports are done and on time, coming for extra help, better preparing for quizzes and tests -- don't try to do everything because it's overwhelming. Just pick one thing, and follow through.
I hope your summer is going well! During this time, you can check out my lab book "Chemistry on a Budget" at amazon.com -- it's only $20! It will take a little time to get to you, so order it and enjoy your summer vacation!
Each lab is presented with two possible report formats -- both labs use the same procedure but each has a different conclusion -- one with 10 questions to be answered as a conclusion, the other with a full laboratory report required. This gives the teacher the option of what type of report is desired, and each version is designed to be just two pages. This way the teacher can photocopy just one 2-sided page per student (saves paper).
Have a good week!