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Free app scores points with kindergarten class

New York Teacher

ClassDojo is a free app for engaging with students and parents that can be used on iPhones, Androids and desktop computers. Thinking it might be a fun-to-use behavior management system, we decided to give it a go this year in our kindergarten integrated co-teaching classroom. Little did we know that ClassDojo would revolutionize our already awesome classroom!

Each day we give students points on the Dojo to encourage targeted skills and behaviors like completing homework, working hard, staying on task and helping others. When we want students to see how they are doing, we open the app on the Promethean board in our classroom so everyone’s avatars are displayed to the class. Points can be awarded by clicking on an individual student’s avatar and choosing the targeted behavior. A visual cue pops up along with the child’s avatar, and the app sets off a positive auditory “ding.” Students love being recognized for their accomplishments and enjoy seeing their classmates recognized as well. 

Points can be awarded individually or to groups. In our class, we have set up a group for each table and groups for boys and girls. This feature encourages students to set positive examples for their groups to follow so they can earn points.

From the Settings icon, you can customize your feedback types under the two categories of “Positive” or “Needs Work.” Some great default behaviors are already set up. But you can click the “add behavior” button to add any behavior that you would like to target. You can name the behavior, choose a visual icon to accompany the behavior and award a corresponding point value. 

We have specifically selected our “positive” and “needs work” behaviors to meet the needs of our class this year. The use of the “needs work” behaviors sparked some debate among the educators in our school. But we have found them to be an invaluable tool for pinpointing problems and creating effective action plans to phase out the problematic behavior. For example, one of our parents noticed that her son was getting an “off-task” or “unfocused” message each day at approximately the same time. She messaged us and suggested that we try to give him a snack just before that time since he gets “antsy” when he is hungry. We moved our class snack time up 20 minutes and voila — focused children! 

Once we invited our parents to connect to our ClassDojo, it took on a life of its own, increasing our parent involvement immeasurably. Every single parent connected and participates! It was not an easy feat to get them all involved, but we were persistent. Now we can instantly message parents as a whole class or individually to relay important messages or give them ideas for how they can help their child progress at home. 

From our “Class Story” tab, we celebrate the wonderful things going on in our class by posting pictures or short video clips of class activities. Parents can “like” and even comment on the posts. Many parents have remarked about how much more connected they feel to what is going on in our class.

For example, having begun our year with a class of readers who were reading on an AA level, we were so excited when two of our readers moved to a level A. We took a picture of the two children holding their reading certificates and beaming with pride over their accomplishments and posted a celebratory picture to our class story. Within the hour, we had five parents message us to ask what they could do to help their child move to the next reading level. We gave all of the parents specific reading behaviors that students need to independently read a level A emergent-reader text… and the rest is history. 

Do you want to keep your students on their toes? Hit the “Random” button! The ClassDojo will randomly select a student for feedback. The random button can also be used to call on students for questioning in any subject. Our students love this feature and sit up ramrod straight and completely quiet, as if the Dojo can magically see them through our Promethean board, hoping that the Dojo will choose them for feedback. Every point awarded is recorded and easily retrieved as a report for parent conferences or assistance in writing and tracking student goals. 

If you would like to get started creating a positive, supportive classroom community that engages parents and students socially and academically, you can sign up at www.ClassDojo.com or download the free app on any iPhone or Android.