I know that the title of the posts sounds a little archaic. Shouldn’t we be worried about engaging students rather than ‘managing’ them? Surely we’re in the business of learning and not controlling. I’d agree with these sentiments and I’m sure they’ve been read here in this very blog a number of times.
This post isn’t so much about controlling students and coercing them to do as the teacher wishes, rather it is about using digital tools wisely to help students develop positive learning behaviours. It’s a bit like a transitional tool-kit to help students and teachers adjust to the new learning dynamics of an open, student-centred classroom environment.
See my last post for a bit of an over-view as to why I’m writing this post about ‘managing team work’. Simply put, managing team work is damn hard for teachers and students – the switch from passive to active learner is tough on students and will require some scaffolding and support.
ClassDojo – what is it?
Essentially it is a cool little online tool that allows you to award points (or deduct points) to students for certain behaviours chosen by the classroom teacher. It is designed to be used every lesson to monitor student behaviour – over time students become accustomed to the visual and audio cues that indicate that they have received a point for positive behaviour or, conversely, have had a point deducted for misbehaviour. I guess you should interpret the word ‘behaviour’ loosely. It’s more about classroom expectations.
According to the website, ClassDojo is ‘Realtime Behaviour Management Software’. I’ll be honest, when I first read that tag-line it didn’t sound too appealing. I like to think I don’t have behavioural issues in my class because kids are engaged in authentic, real-world projects. But that’s not true all of the time. It’s just not.
There are expectations that need to be established in all environments – especially environments where learning is hands-on, inquiry-based and involving young thinkers. I am a big fan of the 16 Habits of Mind devised by Art Costa and advocated by BIE. I am also a fan grrl of Assessment for Learning using the ‘Goals, Medals, Missions’ scaffold as devised by Geoff Petty. I think ClassDojo gives me the chance to easily implement both of these learning strategies into my PBL classroom.
Here’s a couple of screen captures of what it looks like:
Your class list appears on screen (best projected on an IWB or screen for students to see) like this:
Teacher enters desired behaviours/expectations for students (the ones below are the sample ones given by ClassDojo – I’m thinking I will opt out of negative behaviours):
The teacher selects ‘start class’ and then during the class awards points to students for meeting expectations – using an iPhone as a remote or clicking on the screen, the students see their number on their avatar rise (or decrease) and hear an accompanying signal. The images below shows a student with a positive and a student with a negative:
At the end of the lesson the teacher can get a neat graph of the types of behaviours/expectations met during the lesson. Students can track if they have improved each lesson with printable PDFs that sum their performance over a period of time.
Why ClassDojo and PBL?
I like the idea of having a visual reminder of the expected behaviours required to work effectively with others and to work towards successfully completing a project. The fact that I can add any expectations/behaviours I like means that I don’t have to stick to those suggested by ClassDojo – it’s a nice flexible tool. I like that I can add in the target Habits of Mind and students can be rewarded for applying these in the lesson. From what I can tell from the comments on the edmodo ClassDojo group, students are really enjoying the system and it’s making them strive harder to meet target expectations.
I hope it works for my class – will check back with you in a week!!