I have been using Class Dojo in my room for about 2 years now and while the program has had some bad press lately ( see here) I have loved it.
If you are not familiar with Class Dojo, here is a brief outline:
1. It is an online behaviour management tool which can be either accessed through your pc or by tablet/phone through an app. The app syncs constantly with the pc, so it is cool walking around with your ipad giving verbal feedback while simultaneously giving points. The points immediately are added or subtracted to the students score with an audible noise and are visible when projected up onto the smart board. The noise isn’t intrusive, just enough to prod those students who need that gentle reminder to return to task!
2. The student point tallies can either displayed with the positive tallies separate from the negative tallies or both can be combined. I prefer the latter, to reinforce that behaviour can be turned around.
3. Each student has an avatar which previously could tweaked (to change the colour, body features etc) but now the only option available is a completely new avatar. Still, this feature is incredibly popular with all ages.
4. Access codes are available for parents so that they can access their childs data if they wish and just as importantly, all behaviour data is stored and would be useful data for parent interviews.
5. The teacher decides on the behaviours to be included (how great would that fit in with discussions about class rules at the beginning of each school year). I love this feature because I can use either Indonesian or English!
6. Class Dojo is completely free!
There, I think that is a basic explanation. More details can be found on their website https://www.classdojo.com
At first, I found using class dojo time distracting; familiarising oneself with anything new is incredibly time consuming! It was clunky and seemed at first to distract both students and myself from our focus, but as we all got used to it, the benefits far outweighed the negatives. It is particularly useful for the really young students as it is a short sweet behaviour management tool. In the past, I would have to stop and address the negative behaviour, now I just give that student a negative and keep going. The ding/dong sound generally is enough to put a hasty stop to the behaviour especially considering it is usually accompanied by disapproving looks from peers!
One of the best features of class dojo for me is that it helps me focus on the ‘good’ behaviour instead of the negative. I give points for participating, using Indonesian, helping others etc, and for some students this really gives them the opportunity to shine. One quiet student loves asking, “Boleh saya pinjam pensil/penyerut/penghapus?” and at times she must have up to a dozen pencils on her table!! Usually this use of Indonesian is unrecorded. The result has been a huge increase in students using these phrases repeatedly and appropriately in the Indonesian classroom!
At the start of term 4, 2014, I began using class dojo for students to call the roll. In the past, I have called the roll at the beginning of each class to instill “Apa kabar?” (How are you?), a phrase I believe every student learning Indonesian needs to know and be able to respond to automatically. However, I realised recently that I needed to hand over this routine to students (middle and upper primary) if they are to successfully and completely internalise this specific phrase. Being able to answer “Apa kabar?” is only half of the interaction.
To ensure this part of the lesson did not go any longer than it absolutely needed to and also to really push for an automatic response, I added the complexity of a timer. Students would call the roll very quickly and the rest of the class would be encouraged to answer instantly. I recorded the scores for each student and then dangled the best scores in front of other classes to encourage them to achieve an even faster result. The record score by week 8 was 27 seconds! Not bad considering initial scores were well over a minute! Out of all the MP & UP students, I only had 2 students who flatly refused to call the roll! Both had very good reasons, so I didn’t push them. One of my other students, a real struggler in Indonesian, dug deeply and gave it her best shot and was the first student in the school to get a score in the 20’s!! That result gave her such a huge boost that her confidence in all other aspects of language learning totally backflipped for the rest of the year. It was awesome!
Towards the end of the year, I gave roll caller the option of being timed and what I really enjoyed seeing was that responses remained short and sweet even when the timer wasn’t being used. It will be interesting to see if that continues after the summer holidays!
With my use of TPRS/CI in the classroom, I want to encourage students to stay in Indonesian as much as possible, I am planning to investigate using the timer on Class Dojo to again harness the competitive nature of my students in 2015. Senor Howard’s blog and video (see here) shows how this is done and I am looking forward to investigating this using the class dojo timer this way.
Telling stories and using class dojo, for me, are tricky to combine, so now in each lesson, I have a designated helper. Whoever called the roll is asked first and to be honest, this person has yet to refuse! Their task is to record any positive behaviour (i.e. participation). (I record negative behaviour separately with the warning that 3 strikes and that student is ‘out’ – off to buddy class.) The best thing about having a recorder is that it ensures I SLOW down so they can keep up and it also tells me at a glance who I need to do a comprehension check on. Students love having their input recorded and at times it can be a bit hectic if someone’s input was over looked. Hey wouldn’t that be a perfect mini story to start with next year to ensure students can fix this without lapsing into English.
Have you discovered Class Dojo yet and if so, how do you use it in the Languages classroom?