Sunday, October 9, 2011

Class Dojo: Building Positive Classrooms in Realtime

Everything we do is behaviour.  I sometimes struggle to understand my own behaviour and I have had years of practice at monitoring, assessing and managing it.  One thing I have noticed as a teacher is that once you put a class of children together, everything is multiplied.

I have questioned myself many times on the fairness of pushing 26 or so students into a classroom context and expecting them to manage and negotiate their own behaviours.  Teachers do the best they can to outline expected behaviours and social standards of classrooms, schools and the greater societal contexts.  However, even the best teacher can't read the minds of each and every student in their class (if you can, call me, because we need to talk).  It can be hard to manage the behaviour of all students at all times, especially if their not sure of what is expected of them.

I have always believed that technology should be invisible in the classroom.  It should be something that just happens, not something that has to happen.  I also believe that when implementing things into the classroom, an excellent teacher negotiates his/her expectations with their class and behaviour expectations are no different.

I found Class Dojo by sheer luck and implemented it's flexible program into my classroom with the guidance of 26 five year old children.  For a while I had been looking for a pieces of technology that would allow me to monitor student behaviour as well as providing students with instant feedback.  Class Dojo does both of these things and more.

The interface is easy to use, there is a step by step tutorial on how to use the program on your internet browser and the best feature of all is that it is free!  Once you have signed up, the website asks you to add a class and input your students names.  From there you can assign them a cute looking monster or arrange to add a picture of them to make it more personal.  My favourite feature is being able to use my smartphone as a remote to award positive or negative behaviours.

Once your class is added, the program asks you to create positive behaviours (these are green) and negative behaviours (these are red).  There are simple icons that are tied to each behaviour you make.  I have found that there are enough of them to assign to nearly any behaviour you can think of.

For me , this is one of the coolest tools I have come across, and after testing it now for over 2 months, it is the coolest thing my students have encountered.  Class Dojo rewrote our classroom behaviour system.  It allowed us to sit down as a class and negotiate what we wanted rewarded as positive behaviours and what we wanted rewarded as negative behaviours.  All 26 students were participants in this process and it allowed for each student to have a voice and develop an understanding of how to behave in the classroom context.

We spent hours on negotiating what a "good/positive" choice was and what a "bad/negative" choice was.  My class negotiated the language we would use when creating behaviours and committed themselves to creating an environment that was safe and where each member knew what was expected of them.  I was blown away by the deep discussion 5 year olds were having over what constituted a positive behaviour to them. I developed deep respect for them as learners and community members.  They now owned their behaviour, they owned the positive and negative consequences; its rewards, and most of all they respected each other because of it.

Our classroom behaviours are simple yet effective.  They are student decided and worded.  The technology didn't rule their decisions, it guided them and assisted them in becoming everyday expectations rather than punishments.

Our Class Behaviours
100% Student Negotiated, 100% Student Owned.

Another feature of Class Dojo is its ability to provide instant behaviour feedback to students. Other than the sounds played when a behaviour is made, or its visual pop ups, the program provides interactive behaviour graphs that show audiences the behaviours recorded for a given period. I was astounded when my class asked to see their graphed data.

When we first started the graph was approximately 50/50 in regards to positive and negative behaviours made.  My class were distraught and accused the program of recording their data wrong.  It was unbelievable to 26, 5 year old students that they had made so many negative decisions.  Since then we have had many discussion about how to improve our behaviour making, with the goal to make our graph 100% positive behaviours. I am pleased to say that since the beginning of this month we are at 90% positive behaviours.

Class Report for October
It's amazing to watch students negotiate how they can make more positive behaviours with informed knowledge of what they need to change.

In my eyes that is all I could wish for. No one is perfect; especially when you're 5 years old and you're still exploring your behaviours and their consequences.  I have promised an ice block to each child when we get 100% positive behaviours and I'm sure the day will come when this happens. When it does, I will congratulate my students for their efforts.  Until then, I am just happy with them owning their own behaviour.

My hat goes off to the creators of Class Dojo.  The most effective technology in classrooms is that which is unseen until it is needed to be used.  Class Dojo is one of those technologies.  It isn't 100% perfect, but the influence it has on students and their ability to negotiate and own their behaviour is priceless.  Myself and 26 students want to thank you, we look forward to using this program in our classroom for sometime to come.

If you would like to use Class Dojo in your classroom, click on this link > CLASS DOJO.  You won't regret it!  Share it with your friends and peers as well.  Technology such as this needs to be shared.

2 Responses so far.

  1. How Do You Change the Students Avatar?

  2. Anonymous says:

    how do you chat on class dojo

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