How I use Class Dojo
Well after yesterday's post, several followers asked me to share a little about how I use Class Dojo in the classroom. I will be completely honest, each year I have done things a little differently. However, I can honestly say that this past year, I felt I was the most successful in using it than I had ever been. I am going t credit that success to two things: my involvement in the Class Dojo Mentor Communicant on Facebook AND my students.
I have learned so much being a part of the Class Dojo Mentor community..it is a safe place for sharing ideas, asking question and talking freely about what works and what doesn't work. There is a true sense of community too and it is not just among the mentors. The creators and developers at Class Dojo regularly ask for our advice on things and share potential new mods.
My students also played a part in the success of Class Dojo in my classroom. Each yer the group of students who walk though are door in the Fall are different, and using Dojo to its fullest really depends on whether you have buy in from the students and also how you find ways to make it meaningful to them. Do not expect to roll it out on Day 1 and everyone to be on board. Ease into it, give them an over view of what it is and how you would like to use it, and also share the WHY. Give them an opportunity to ask questions and be receptive to their feedback. Also be flexible...it may take some tweaking to get it fully up an running.
I know one of the challenges I faced int he beginning was remembering to open the app up in the morning. Sometimes it was not until lunch time that I remembered i had not given any points out. My solution to this was 1) make it part of my morning routine. As soon as I logged onto my computer each morning, I opened my email and I opened Class Dojo. And 2) I appointed a student as my Dojo Assistant. If I had not given out any points by the time we came back from Related Arts (my students soon became familiar with the "ding" of positive points) this student would go take one of the Dojo Monsters I had laminated an turned into magnets that I keep on my board, and place it on my computer. After a while all I needed to do was see that student get up and head to the board and that was all it took to remind me to get Class Dojo running and give some points.
Variety if the spice of life...or so they say. This is really true for Class Dojo. Itried to keep it new and exciting for my students by adding new rewards each 9 weeks, changing up the way we tracked points and also to set the goals a little higher each 9 weeks.
So let me break those down a bit:
Rewards: start small and give them choices. In the beginning it was a new bookmark, a homework pass or a new pencil with a cool eraser. As the year went on, I increased the value of the prizes as out goal increased. I let me students suggests things for Dojo prizes sometime, and sometimes I used cool things I had found at the Dollar Store, or Target Dollar Spot or cheap books I bought from Scholastic.
Tracking Points: In the beginning, I used a punch card like the one here. Students would get a punch for each day they met their goal. Then once the punch card was full, they got to choose a reward. In the beginning the goal was low so it was easier to attain. I used a bar graph tracker another 9 weeks, and the last 9 weeks, we ran weekly competitions so I did not reset the points all week in the program. Whether you use the program to track points, or give the students that responsibility, change it up so it doesn't get boring.
Setting Goals: I did this with my students each 9 weeks. At the beginning of the year when you are introducing it, allow students to give input on what they think our initial goal should be. Each 9 weeks, have a discussion with students and share data with them from the previous 9 weeks. Help them to come up with a class goal based on their ideas and the data. This coming school year I am goign to guide students to set personal goals in Class Dojo. I think this will help them have more ownership i their behavior.
Some other things I think are important to share are the behaviors I track (and give both positive and negative points for, using Class Dojo to communicate with parents, data and privacy.
Behaviors: If you are familiar with Class Dojo, you know you have the capability to give positive an negative points. Some teacher choose to give only positive points. I give both. Some of the things I give positive points for are: Agenda signed, Great Hallway Behavior, Great Morning Routine, On Task, Paying Attention, Raising Hand, helping others, etc. During a period of the year when we were having a lot of non-illness related absences, I started giving a point to everyone if we had 100% attendance. I also gave positive points for having homework turned in. I love that I can add behaviors as the year goes on, and remove ones that I am not using or that I do not use. As far as the things I give negative points for: blurting out, talking during instruction or in the hallway, not turning in homework or incomplete homework (I did not do this until I had talked to the student and determined if there was a valid reason for homework not being complete), being off task, out of their chair without permission, lying and disrespect.
Using Dojo to improve home-to-school communication: First of all, I love the Dojo Messenger feature. I had a fair amount of parents sign up for it last year. But this year, I am going to push it even harder from day 1. Since I get my roster before our school wide "Meet the Teacher" event. I am going to set my class up and print out the parent invites, along with a letter explaining how to sign up for Messenger. I considered using Remind 101 app too but I think what Messenger offers is way more effective for communicating with parents. I can send individual messages, broadcast messages, share photos, etc. I love it. And let's face it, any way you can get to easily communicate with parents, go for it!
Data: The Class Dojo program give you so much data that is useful in behavior interventions, IEP meetings, and parent teacher conferences. If I have a student that I am referring to our school Behavior Intervention team, I run a report for the past several weeks and bring it to the meeting. This is a tangible documentation about specific issues we are addressing. It is so valuable to those making decisions about what interventions to try. In our district we hold parent-teacher conferences in mid-October. That is about 6-7 weeks into the school year. If there are patterns of behavior that I am concerned about and want to discuss with the parent I print out reports for the time period leading up to the conference and share that with the parent. Most of the time if they have not signed up to monitor form home, I make a second attempt to get them signed up. I do the same for conferences later in the year. This makes it easier to present the issues to the parent and discuss when you have tangible data to share with them. Your administrator will love the data also! At least mine does!!
Privacy: This has been a hot button topic in my school and even in the CD mentor community. Here is my take on it...our job as educators is to help encourage our students to be better learners and people. I do not see a problem with showing point totals to the whole class. I don;t keep it up on my Promethean Board all day, but I do put it up right before lunch (mid-point of our day) and at the end of the day. I have never had a student get embarrassed that others can see their points. Although Class Dojo has the option of displaying both positive and negative points together, I only show their overall total. Let's face it, kids know who is getting negative points because they see their classmates doing things they should not be doing and they know what it sounds like when I give out a negative point. I do not discuss a students points with anyone but them (and their parents). Students can log on form home and see only their points (same for parents--they only see their students point totals).
Finally, if you decide to implement Class Dojo, one of the first things you will want to do is sign up for Dojo of course, and check out all the great teacher resources Class Dojo has to offer from parent letters to videos on getting started to awesome classroom decorations. Then head over to Teacher Pay Teachers and check out all the great resources there (some of them are completely FREE!). Just enter Class Dojo in the search bar and voila...last time I checked there were over 500 resources dedicated to Class Dojo. There are also some great tutorials and videos on YouTube.
Let me tell you..you are going to love it! And soon you will be convincing your fellow teachers to jump on the Class Dojo bandwagon!