By EDWARD HUSAR Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Parents of Quincy Junior High School students now have another tool to help them keep their kids on track academically.
The tool is a homework website that lets parents quickly and easily check what assignments teachers have issued for a particular day or the entire week.
The website -- https://sites.google.com/site/qjhschool/ -- has been up and running since mid-February. So far, teachers and parents are finding it a good way to keep everyone informed of daily assignments students are expected to work on.
"It's just been fabulous. I wonder why we didn't do it before now," said Principal Diane Glaub, who credits QJHS teachers for developing the site.
Glaub said school officials saw a need for an innovative way to help parents keep track of their children's homework.
"We always ask parents for any support they can give us, and we had parents who would come back and say, ‘I want to help my child, but they're not bringing their assignments home or they're saying they don't know what they have for homework.' "
So Glaub approached a few teachers and asked: "What can we do?"
Those teachers, she said, sprang into action. Within three weeks, the homework website was up and running, and teachers were trained in how to enter their assignments and keep them up-to-date.
Kim Dinkheller, a freshman history teacher, was a leading force in developing the website, which uses the free "Google Sites" service that allows anyone with a G-mail account to build a website at no cost.
Dinkheller reviewed other homework websites she found on the Internet and devised a simple model that she thought would work well for Quincy Junior High. Other teachers like the model as well.
"We tweaked it to what we wanted it to be," Dink-heller said. "We really wanted it to be legitimately nothing but a homework site. So we don't have anything else posted on it."
The site features a simple welcome page with a few school telephone numbers. On the far right is a list of teachers. Clicking on a teacher's name will bring up a page showing all of the teacher's homework assignments for each day that week for every class the instructor teaches.
Dinkheller said teachers can easily attach class notes, worksheets and other documents to each daily assignment. They also can post links to online textbooks needed for certain assignments.
"It's really user friendly for the teachers," she said.
Glaub said teachers have willingly accepted the task of keeping the homework website current because they realize it saves them time in the long run.
She said on an average day between 30 and 40 parents would call the school asking for homework assignments for children who were sick or being kept out of school several days for a family trip.
"A teacher would have to stop and manually do this," Glaub said. "It would take about 15 minutes to write up multiple days' assignments and then send the materials down to the office where the parent could pick it up."
And if multiple students were out at one time, the teacher's efforts were multiplied.
Now assignments are put just once on the website and remain there indefinitely for anyone to see as needed.
"So it's less time now for a teacher than it was before, and yet it's better," Glaub said.
Several years ago QJHS used a "homework hotline" system that let teachers record assignments daily on a telephone extension. A parent trying to get homework assignments for a sick student would have to call up to seven different extensions and hurriedly write down the assignments. This was a cumbersome task for everyone involved, Dinkheller said.
"So the homework hotline just sort of went away," she added. "It was becoming hard to manage that many extensions."
The new website not only lists homework assignments that can be easily printed out, but it also lets teachers notify parents of upcoming tests or opportunities to re-take previous tests. The site also offers a link to a "home access grade book" that lets parents use a password to see a student's grades on tests, classwork and various assignments.
Glaub said giving parents easy access to a child's grades and homework assignments can help them do more to assist their children.
"Parents are wonderful," she said. "They are so supportive. And I think they just appreciate having one more tool to help them support their child."