I can describe what I did, sure, but it was a few weeks back now, and I was trying a lot of things to get it to behave the way I wanted it to.
Going into this, I knew that I was going to have a weighted grading scheme, based on different types of activities. In my case, we have homework assignments, quizzes, and a final exam (30%, 30%, 40%, respectively).
The first thing I did, then, was create categories in my gradebook. I did this for two reasons. 1.) So I could have Moodle calculate this weighted scheme I devised and 2.) I wanted the student to be able to look at their grade for the course as a whole and on a "per category" basis (I've communicated the weights to them in the syllabus, and if Moodle didn't do the calculation, they would have to do it themselves). To do any of the rest of what I've done, you don't necessarily need to use categories. I just thought it was helpful to me and the students. It does, I think, make the User Report in the Grader look a lot slicker.
I did this by going to the Grader report, under "Categories and items" under the Settings menu, clicking "Simple View" or "Full View." What you should be seeing is a list of all of the items that have grades attached to them in your class (if you have items that you don't want to be there, that's a whole different discussion). At the bottom of this page (outside of the iframe), there's a button that says "Add category." You can make your category, then at the bottom of the iframe, there's a menu that says "Move selected items to." So you can go up and use the checkboxes all of the way to the right to select all of your Quizzes, for example, then go back to the dropdown menu and move all of those items to the Quizzes category.
So before I d escribe anything in detail, let me summarize how I have this set up. At the CLASS LEVEL (topmost row in the iframe), under Aggregation, I have the drop down menu set to Weighted Mean of Grades. (There's a Moodle Doc somewhere that describes what all of those options are, by the way). I chose this one because I knew that each category was going to have a weight. Once I selected this, it reloads my iframe and gives me a new column named "Weight" to the right of "Aggregation" with little boxes beside each of my categories. I believe if I had any items outside of categories, it would give me boxes beside them. For instance, I have a category for "Final Exam" but I think I could get rid of the Category and just have Final Exam floating out there and it everything would still work fine.
I then put 0.3 beside Quizzes, 0.3 beside Assignments, and 0.4 beside Final Exam. As you might guess, if your values don't add up to 1, your students grades will be lower than they should be (if this value adds up to 0.7, the best the students would ever do would be a 70%, for instance).
Once I got that far, I had to look at how I wanted to deal with the grading of the individual categories. This takes me back to the Aggregation column, but this time looking at the options for each category.
The first problem I ran into was that all of my quizzes were defaulted to be out of a maximum score of 10 points (the "Max Grade" column), which makes things a little trickier because everywhere else I'm going to be using a 100 point range. If I were to have 10 quizzes, I could just sum them (the equivalent of averaging 10 100 point quizzes), or I could use some of the fancy calculation options Moodle gives you (----the "Calculator" icon that's to the rightmost part of the "Category Total" or "Course Total" rows --- this sucker is where you go if the built in Aggregation methods aren't powerful enough). In essence, I could make Moodle multiply each of my quiz grades by 10 before averaging them. This seemed too complicated.
But, personally, for me, I found it was easier to go into all of my quizzes and change the maximum points to 100. (There's no easy way to do this besides going into each and every quiz, clicking "Edit Quiz," then the "Editing Quiz" tab, then changing that value to 100 and clicking "Save.")
I was then able to change the Aggregation method to "Mean of grades."
And here, ladies and gentlemen, that I was confused for about 45 minutes. The last row in each category is labeled "Category Total." Notice that you can change the value in this column under "Max Grade." I don't know if this thing is buggy or is behaving the way it's supposed to, but sometimes it changes with what Aggregation method you've chosen and sometimes it doesn't. For instance, if you've chosen "Sum of grades," and you have 5 100 point items, this value should be 500. If it doesn't read 500 in that situation, you need to make it say 500 or it will not work.
In my case, since I'm using a simple mean of items that have all the same max value of 100, that little box should say 100. If it doesn't say 100, in my case, it will not work correctly.
That's pretty much it. My Assignments category is shaped the same way ("Mean of Grades" as the Aggregation, each item's max grade is 100, the Category Total is 100). My silly Final Exam category has an aggregation method of "Sum of grades" because there's only one item. The category total is 100.
The Course Total is 100, in my case, because I want everything on a 100 point scale.
From here, you could get as fancy as you wanted. Moodle is pretty beefy, I've learned, in this area and the possibilities are too numerous for me to mention -- weighting individual items inside a category, choosing to accept only the highest grades in a category, building in extra credit, using some intensive calculations inside each category or on a course level, etc.
I'm sorry I didn't provide pictures, but there's really only one screen and one menu. I can come back and put some screenshots up if people really want to see what I'm talking about.
This is just one way to do things, of course, and I would love people to post other ways of doing different things. I will try to keep tabs on this thread and answer questions about what I did, and I'm sure there's plenty of people who know more than I do about this thing.