Saturday, October 5, 2013

Class Dojo

I first found Class Dojo back in December of 2011 while I was blog-hopping. I thought it sounded like a cool idea, but I was a substitute at the time and didn't have a class to try it on. I used it with a tutoring student of mine, and it worked fine, but I had no idea if I'd be able to manage it with a class of 24 {or more!}.

When the music teacher at my school started using Class Dojo this year, it was a huge hit with all the kids. Since all the kids were talking about it and I already had an account, I decided to jump on board, too. I'm glad that I have another teacher to test this out with!

What Is Class Dojo?
Class Dojo is a free, online management system. You can use it on a computer or on your mobile device; get your Apple app by clicking here, and get your Android app by clicking here.
ClassDojo app icon, courtesy of The App Store
Cool Features
  • 100% free
  • Add a ton of classes {I currently have 21 and can still add more}
  • Customize behaviors... Add both positive and negative behaviors to track
  • Automatically tracks and graphs student behavior over time
  • Add points on a computer or your mobile device {I walk around the room with my iPad and award points}
  • Students can log in with a special code to see their points for your class
  • Parents can also log in to track their child's progress
  • Add comments to the points you award so you can write down details about the situation
  • Very friendly and quick-to-respond team {I got to Skype with Kalen from ClassDojo when I first tried it. He was super-nice and listened to all suggestions I had!}
  • Quickly and easily print instructions about how to sign up for students... and send an e-mail invite to parents
  • Students like to log in and change their avatar, so it keeps them motivated to pull up their progress at home
  • Take attendance through the computer. I use this at the beginning of class, and then when I chose "award all" during class, the absent student automatically does not get points
  • Track behavior trends by day, week, and hour
  • If another teacher in your school is using Class Dojo with the same student(s), that student can merge the accounts together so he/she only has to remember one log in to view both sets of points
 Features I'd Like To See
  • A demo student and parent account so the teacher can familiarize herself with it and be able to show others what to click
  • Ability for parents to set up alerts -- perhaps they could automatically receive an e-mail when their student's behavior dips below, say, 80% positive. 
  • Ability to take attendance on the app. 
  • Ability to display student avatars without showing points {students are always interested in viewing their avatar and their friend's avatar in class... but I can't show it because I don't want to display the class points on the board}
  • Ability to add comments to behavior points from within the app
I put "Features I'd Like To See" instead of "Things I Don't Like" because it seems that Class Dojo is constantly working to add more features and make it more user-friendly. I have high-hopes that the above-mentioned cons will be added in the near future.

How Do I Use It?

If you don't already have an account, go ahead and sign up. It's totally free, so even if you don't like the system, you haven't lost anything.

When you log in for the first time, you automatically see your demo class that Class Dojo set up for you. You can't ever delete that class, FYI. It used to annoy me, and then I realized that it's handy for showing the students how Class Dojo works and sounds without displaying everyone's point total on the board. 

When I first put in all my classes, I named them by the teacher's name. Thankfully, the music teacher has a 3rd grade son, so she can log in to his account and see what it looks like from a student's account and from a parent's account. It turns out the student sees exactly what you name the class. So if, for instance, the music teacher and I both named a 1st grade teacher's class by her name, Smith, the student would just be able to see the word "Smith" twice on his account. He wouldn't be able to distinguish between the music account and the Science Lab account. So... just FYI: be specific when you're naming. 

When you want to set up a class, click "+ Create a class" in the top right. 

Name the class, specify a subject and a grade level for the students, and customize the class icon. 

Type in names of students one at a time or copy/paste a list. 

You can edit students at any time. 

Add/edit behaviors. Class Dojo defaults to a certain behaviors {both positive and negative}, but you can edit or delete them as you wish. If you have multiple classes that you want to have the same behaviors, you can import behaviors from another class so you don't have to type everything in every time you set up a new class. 

When you're ready to start tracking behaviors, click on "start" from the home screen.

View your students. 

From this screen, you can take attendance, set a timer {perhaps to challenge students to do something in a specific amount of time in order to earn a point}, and award points. You can award points to one student at a time or select multiple students. 

Click the "settings" button to toggle the following options:

I never display a class on the Promethean because I don't want students to see others' points. However, you can log in to Class Dojo from your laptop before students walk in and minimize that window during class. Then you can walk around and award points from your mobile device. When you award points on your mobile device, a sound should play from your Promethean {if the Internet connection is good}. It's a way to alert students to awarded points {both positive and negative} without embarrassing anyone. 

After you're finished with class, click "end class" to go back to the home screen. Click "reports" to view the trends Class Dojo found. 

Toggle the dates in the drop-down list to see behaviors. 

 Here's an example of tracking a certain behavior by hour:

You can clearly see when I was teaching and trying to show an example point to my students. :)

You can also track behaviors by individual student:

Here, we can see that Denzel has not signed up with a username yet, and he has a problem bringing his homework to class... shame on you, D-Wash. 

I'm still learning all the little tricks of Class Dojo, but at this point, I can confidently say that I recommend it. I think I'll have to add some sort of reward instead of just the points {x number of points = x reward}, but it's working great so far.

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