I refer to my students as “little monsters.” (I’ve also called them “tiny monkeys”, “silly billies” [as in goats], and a host of other nicknames, as I’m sure all teachers do from time to time.) For this reason alone, I’m stoked about this week’s Techno-Tuesday post.
I’ve created my own little classroom of monsters! The monsters help me keep track of positive and negative behaviors that happen in my classroom. I’ve tried conduct cards, class contests, and the like, and unless kids see/hear the rewards and consequences of their behavior immediately, nothing works to encourage the behavior that you want to see, which is why I’ve started using ClassDojo. This website is an awesome classroom behavior data tracker! How awesome is that? I mean, how many of us actually use behavior DATA? Numbers! We use them to inform our instruction, why not to inform our classroom management?!
Go here. To this website. I’m serious. Click on the “Teachers: Try it right now!” button, sign up, and take a tour of the site. Or, just keep reading, and I’ll give you a pretty great overview of the feature of ClassDojo.
In the Demo Class, you’ll see your “students” — yes, you get to teach famous people — and get your first look at your little monsters! When you create your own class, each student will get a monster avatar. My kids LOVE their monsters, and want to see their monsters at the beginning and end of each class. Kids earn points for their positive actions, and lose points for their not-so-positive ones (those are rare, right?). I’ve made these into class contests, and the class with the highest amount of points at the end of the week will earn a reward, such as a homework pass, candy, etc. My kids are super excited about the contest, and are really trying hard to keep their own and their classmates’ behaviors in check!
Feature #1: You can take attendance.
I know that our districts all require us to take attendance a certain way, and I’m certainly not advocating that you ignore your district guidelines and use this only. But, as someone who (occasionally) forgets to take attendance, this is helpful, because I pull it up at the start of class, mark kids late or absent, and then can look back at this later if I haven’t taken attendance the “real” way. Alternatively, if your school doesn’t have a way to take attendance… well… here you go.
Feature #2: Reward the behaviors you want to see. Hand out consequences for the ones you don’t.
All year, I’ve tried to say “thank you” to those students who are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing: “Oh, I see that Trey has his name, date, and class period on his paper; thank you, Trey,” or “Thanks, Melissa, I really appreciate you putting your desk back in the right place and cleaning up your area.” It’s amazing how many kids will do those things just t get a thank you! So, now, I give awards for what I want to see (and keep track of the negative behaviors that I don’t want to see, but that I know parents want to know about). To give awards, click on a kiddo. Or, to give multiple awards at once, click on “award multiple students” link — easy! I give awards for participating, cleaning up, being kind to others, staying on task, and other great things we want our students to do each day.
Kids love hearing the happy noise that comes from earning rewards. When they hear the sad noise, they look around the room to remind each other of the class rules and expectations. It’s pretty clear that each student really wants his or her class to win!
Feature #3: Collect data, send reports to students and parents.
Yep, that’s right: send reports to students and parents. AMAZING. At the end of each class/day/week/whatever reporting period you choose, you can create an individual student report to be emailed home to parents. Just enter in the email address for the parent of that student, and then watch the parent phone calls and emails roll in, and behaviors change for the better (it happens. Love it.). Equally as cool: kids can log in and see exactly what behaviors you’ve awarded, so that they know what they need to work on to get good news sent home to their families.
Lastly, you can also generate class reports, which are really nice for you to see. I mean, if we are using data to inform our instruction, why not use it to inform other parts of your teaching as well? Personally, I’ve learned that I have one class filled will sweet angel-babies, and one that’s… well… challenging. I’ve been able to really pinpoint the issues that class and those particular students are having, and change the way that I teach to that class so that those issues don’t creep in to our day any more — holy improvement, Batman!
Give it a try for yourself!