While I made progress using the virtues and building relationships, the behaviour management rewards side was not capturing the whole class. I had been giving out "Caught Being Good" cards (we called them Tuis - after the NZ Music Awards - to fit in with the class theme), but some kids had lost interest, and others were stealing them from their classmates. It became a massive effort to collect in the cards and issue the points and add them up.
Before the end of term three I was very despondent with how things were going and I was not enjoying the class, a personal disappointment to me as a professional teacher.
Something had to change.
I had heard of Class Dojo. I'd seen it talked about at Educamps and Eduignites and ULearn14. I had been involved in Twitter Chats and Facebook discussions on its merits.
I went to the Eduignite at Hautapu in term three and caught up with @ariaporo22, aka Alex, a high school teacher from Rotorua who is the Class Dojo Community Leader for New Zealand. We sat down and discussed the merits. Alex uses it for most of her classes. She uses it to reinforce the positives and rarely, if ever, used the negative side of Class Dojo.
I also talked to Maria, the teacher in the class next door, who was also using Class Dojo, to get her perspective on it. And then there were discussions with senior management on the way forward and how we could change the culture of the class and emphasise positive behaviour.
Three weeks before the end of term three I decided to revamp the behaviour management programme for term four and bring Class Dojo in to the mix to up the ante.
At ULearn15 Alex talked me through the set up and how it works over the cocktail event on the first night as we tried some MLE furniture out of size. We set up an account and a "practise class" on my phone and practised giving and taking points and making new rewards to give out. We also practised changing the monsters for each student.
|The practise run - this was part of Alex's mini tutorial at ULearn15 with me.|
Later on, I set up the real account for my class and it was very easy to do so after Alex's mini tutorial.
On the first day of school I sat the kids down and I really wanted to show them the new programme on the ActivBoard.... but in the holidays the school server died and my laptop and the new server were not talking. So using my phone I showed them the Class Dojo video for the class and talked them through it.
I think the monsters hooked the kids. They liked the bright colours, the multiple eyes and the horns.
I also focused on the virtues that we needed to use in the class to develop the virtue of Unity - friendliness, patience, responsibility, respect, self-discipline, consideration. Many of these virtues the children could tell you what they looked like but many students were struggling to demonstrate them in how they behaved.
|An example of some of the positive behaviours you can edit.|
As Alex suggested I tried to keep the positive side of the tool the focus. I loaded up the rewards with references to the virtues we really needed to use in the class. And then I went made on the clicking.
I'm not going to tell you that it solved all my classroom management issues with this class, but the term was a lot better than the previous term. Those kids who really wanted to learn and were shining examples of how to behave in the class were recognised for their efforts in a very visual way. They soon led the points tally. My students who were not shining lights trialled behind.
That's when I brought in an incentive. A sticker chart.
I needed something that was visible when the Class Dojo was not shining on the ActivBoard. So every time a child got another 50 points, they got a sticker. After every 150 points they got 15 minutes golden time. They could use the golden time to use the i-Pads, the computer, play with the class Lego or other equipment, read, or even go outside and kick a ball around.
When the class got to 1000 points (we did this most weeks), we negotiated a game to play outside.
This got my students who were not shining lights moving. They wanted the golden time. They wanted the outside game. You have to love bribery.
The kids often wanted to change their monsters. I had to limit this to once a week per child and after school, because it could be time consuming.
Class Dojo has provision for you to link in the families so they can see from home how it is going. It can also be used to communicate with parents But as this was my first time and the school had no precedence in doing this, I decided against it. If I had been in a school with established relationships with parents I may have considered this. However, some parents had heard about it from their children and came in after school to check progress as their child changed their monster. When we had Student Led Conferences, some parents commented that their child had made their own accounts at home and ran their own Class Dojo system!
I also kept giving out the Virtues Cards. Class Dojo sometimes helped me with this because I could go back and check points I had given for a certain behaviour. I probably gave out more Virtue Cards than before.
These are some of the highlights of using Class Dojo and some things I learned from a term using it:
- You can change the value of the points awarded. I kept it at 1 point for everything, but if there is a behaviour you really want to push, you can change the value to a higher point reward and that may be a way to get that behaviour occurring more.
- I could use it at my computer or from my phone. That meant I could be taking a reading group on the mat, and when I see Bob at the back of the room working hard, rather than ticking his name on the board or going to my laptop to click a Dojo point, I could do it from my phone on the floor. It also meant that at assemblies or whole school singing or Kapa Haka, I could give out points for participation or respect or whatever from my phone.
- When relievers came in (who were usually inhouse relievers at this school), I could open Class Dojo on their laptops and they could dish out the points to the kids too, ensuring the class behaviour management was consistent. It also meant I could see that some kids were behaving at least every time my laptop or phone dinged!
- I would use the Random button at the end of the day to let kids go and give them a point for a behaviour. This was a great time for me to be able to end the day by saying something positive to each child.
- During the time we were doing Athletic sports rotations and I didn't have my class, I used the Random button to make the students accountable for their behaviour with other teachers. If a student's name came up, I would asked their peers if they deserved a point and what behaviour they should get it for. Some students would be honest and declare they did not deserved a point as a result. If they did this, I would thank that student for their honesty.
- I also used Random to give out special prizes. When we had the Tuis I would do a Tui Draw and the students pulled out of the kete would be able to choose from the choosing box (pencils, highlighters, erasers, mini notebooks, rulers, colouring pencils...). I was able to still do this by clicking on Random.
- You can use Class Dojo to remind you who is not there! When we did the roll each morning, we would also do the roll on Class Dojo and the students not there would fade grey so you didn't reward them points. If a child arrives late, you go into attendance and click their name and they come back bold again. Each child also gets a point for being at school on time. You can also label students late if they come in as you are doing the roll.
- You can award a group of selected kids or individuals or the whole class at once.
- You can create groups. I made groups for my reading and maths groups. If I felt a session went well it meant I could click on the Short Tailed Bats maths group or the Takahe reading group and the children in that group received points. Any absent child would not receive points.
- There are a whole pile of resources, like certificates and more, that you can access to enhance the experience. I have yet to use these.
- You can check out the statistics for behaviour as a whole class, group or individual.
- If you have instigated the facility for parent participation, you can post notices, photos and videos for parents to view. It's called Class Story.
- There is now a goal feature - that was developed after I made my sticker chart. Ironic.
- Class Dojo sends you messages to tell you about developments through the app.
- Make it so the students can create their own monster - colour, number of eyes, visible teeth, horns.... I suspect it is already available - but the kids have to have their own log ins to do it.
- When you click on a child or a selection of children, make it so you can click more than one behaviour or the same behaviour multiple times to reward a child.
- Allow the teacher to choose different sounds to go with a behaviour so the children can identify the reward by the sound as well.
- Have a greater variety of icons for the behaviours. I had icons doubling up, which was tricky visibly.
It is easy to set up (plenty of YouTube tutorials if you need them), the app can be used across a variety of platforms and the administrators are regularly coming up with new features. The use of it in the classroom can be as easy or laborious as you want.