Friday, March 15, 2013

ClassDojo Simplifies Classroom Mangement Documentation


Classroom management is an essential part of teaching. Without a strategy to show students what behaviors result in a productive environment and a plan to reinforce expectations, a classroom can turn into chaos in no time. Part of a good classroom management plan is a way to document both positive and negative behaviors, report to parents on a regular basis, and use the system to provide both incentives and sanctions to reinforce your expectations. The problem becomes the time and paperwork involved in managing the system.



As a teacher and principal, I saw what was involved in both elementary and secondary settings. After all was said and done, parents sometimes got no more feedback than a grade of "A," "B," "C," "D," or "F." Sometimes that came only at the end of the grading period. At the elementary level, the "weekly folder" included a vehicle for reporting conduct in a current time frame. All of that came with its share of paperwork.

What if we could automate the process so that teachers simply record positive or negative behaviors as they occur with a couple of mouse clicks? What if  the software could handle the rest? ClassDojo.com provides exactly that.

At the beginning of the year, the teacher creates classes and enters student names and parent email addresses. More than likely, the school's student information system will allow the printing of a list of those parent email addresses.

When the teacher logs in and clicks on that particular class, an avatar for each student appears together with the number points earned during the week.


To give either a commendation or correction, the teacher simply clicks the name and chooses the behavior being displayed. The teacher can, of course, customize the choices.



As soon as the teacher makes a selection, the student's name appears briefly on the screen along with whether they gained or lost a point and for what reason. Points can be awarded to multiple students, or even the entire class, at one time.



Students are able to establish an account, allowing them to log in and see all points awarded or deducted and their percentage of positive points for the week. After the teacher enters the names of the students at the beginning of the year, a simple report will generate a code for each student.


Likewise, another reports will generate a slip to send home to parents giving them a login:



When a student logs in, here is how his or her report will appear:



By the way, the student is able to customize the avatar, one of those small details which adds a great deal of interest for the student and gives a feeling of having some control.

At the end of the week, each parent receives an email with a link to the report. No more having to send home something paper-based and hope that it actually makes it to the parent!


The report the parent sees is very much like what the student sees:



Having been a principal and seen all of the paperwork with which teachers had to deal, I constantly looked for ways to streamline processes. This site does just that in the area of classroom management. Plus. it adds a bit of fun to the whole process. For a blog devoted to organization and time management, ClassDojo is a perfect fit.

My first thought was to schedule this post for late June, during the summer break. It would coincide with the time teachers are planning for the start of school. But this post appears closer to spring break instead, and for an important reason. 

You want to start the year with a good classroom management plan. You want to have thought every detail. You want the plan to flow smoothly. Classroom management is too important to institute something which must shortly be revamped.

The spring offers you the opportunity to pilot the idea on a small scale. Perhaps one teacher could give it a try and see what "kinks" appear. A middle school teacher could try it with just one class. You might leave off the parent component right now. In fact, you might start with just the in-class visuals. Perhaps after a couple of weeks, introduce the student login, so that students can see a report of how they did for the week.

The idea is that when school starts, there should be no question marks about how you will implement this program. You want this idea to make your life simpler,,,less paperwork and better classroom management. 

If you are already using ClassDojo.com, I would be interested in hearing from you. Please leave a comment. What do you like about it? What don't you like? What advice would you give someone else who is thinking about using it?
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