Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Class Dojo

at 7:39 PM
Now, I know I haven't updated in a while, and I have a TON of things I need to upload (like Christmas Crafts!) but I just have to post my initial thoughts and reactions to the new behavior program I started today.

It's called Class Dojo. It was introduced to me by a co-worker during a staff meeting in November. I liked the idea, but wanted to wait until the new semester to start implementing it.

Basically, it's a behavior chart that's all online. Students can create avatars that look like monsters, and teachers can award positive and negative behaviors. I think the cutesy aspect is a big selling point to the 8th graders.

It's a free website. You can sign up as teachers and then invite your students and parents, so they can monitor their behaviors. You can also set up a class without inviting the students. I think most of the other teachers at my school using Class Dojo didn't invite their students to create an account, but I know some did. I think the buy-in students get from creating and changing their avatar is awesome. It also allows students to take on the responsibility of checking their behaviors.

It's easy to use! As a teacher you can set up your classes (works for multi-subject and single subject classes). It's easy to import a list of student names (you don't have to type each one out individually). And then you get to set up the positive and negative behaviors.

One (of very few) problems I've found is that you cannot transfer behaviors to multiple classes, which makes set-up for upper grade teachers a little more tedious.  However, it reminds me to differentiate between classes.

Rewarding the behaviors is easy, too. You can even connect your iPad or iPhone to the program, and remotely award points when you are away from your desk, helping students.

There's a reports sections for each class that shows you how many of each behavior was awarded, and shows a percentage for students each day, and I think it will continue to show weekly progresses (I just started today, so I haven't see all the data there is!)

Likewise, students can see which behaviors they need to work on. Positive and Negative points cancel each other out (well, they add together).

Another problem (well, more of an annoyance to me...) is that you can list students by first name or last name, but I can't arrange them into my seating chart. This makes adding points take a little longer than I'd like, but I think that's something that will get easier with time.

 If a student has more than one class that utilizes Class Dojo, they can connect to both classes with the same login/avatar. It will combine their behaviors on their reports page, so they can see if they are talkative in all their classes, etc...

My experience:

I worked with a 7th grade teacher whose students tend to feed into my class to collaborate on positive and negative behaviors. That way we can have some cohesiveness as the students move up next year. The idea is that not only will they already be used to Class Dojo, they'll be used to the same types of classroom procedures and expectations.

Friday I had my students in the computer lab for a reading level test, and afterwards I allowed them to sign up to Class Dojo and create their avatars.

Unfortunately I was out sick yesterday, but I introduced my classroom behaviors today, and it went very well.

Now, I'm not sure if it was because I introduced Class Dojo, because I reviewed my class expectations while doing it (students always need a reminder at the new semester!) or because my students knew I was still sick, but all classes were on task and behavior was the best so far this year.

The teacher who showed us this program doesn't use Dojo Points as part of the grade or even for citizenship in her class. However, I decided it was a valid way for me to assess their citizenship grade (Junior High students still receive a citizenship grade, like elementary schools do, in our district. U = unsatisfactory, S = satisfactory, O = outstanding). I was having trouble keeping it objective, so I think this will be a very helpful tool. I told my students that if they had any negative points when a progress report or report card came up, they'd receive a U. This also allows students to see their current citizenship grade each day, and to know they can improve negative points by showing positive behaviors.

They can also earn positive points by doing chores around the classroom, such as straightening the bookshelf, or taking out the recycling. 

Some vignettes from today:

Two students started to snicker as I awarded a negative point to another. They both recieved a negative points of "Disrespectful." "What?! We didn't do anything?" "You are not allowed to laugh at other students. It is rude." "Oh..."

I have an autistic student who is always finished early and rarely social. Seeing a positive behavior for "Helpful," he went around the classroom and offered help to other students. After seeing him help a few students, others were asking him for help. I was so proud of him for branching out that I called home and e-mailed his SPED teacher.

Students would be working quietly when a sound was made (I have the sound on the computer very low). There are different sounds for negative and positive awards, and the student and behavior does pop up onto the screen for a moment. As students were working, they'd look up at the sound, then quickly go back to working.

If the award was a negative point for "Incorrect Voice Level," other students lowered their voices. When I awarded someone a positive point for "Helping Others," more people turned to their partners to collaborate. Students who had finished their work but were not being productive (a class rule, you cannot sit and waste time during my class) received "Off Task." This reminded them to find something productive to do.

So far, I absolutely LOVE this program. I'll update you on how effective it continues to be, and let you know about problems I see as they arise.


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