Monday, 15 July 2013

Guest Post - Using Class Dojo For Classroom Management.


Hello! I'm Susanna from over at Whimsy Workshop ...

... and I'm so happy to be visiting Yara's wonderful blog to share some classroom management tips with you!

If you have read any of my blog posts in recent months, I have mentioned that this past year has been the most challenging in twenty years of teaching in terms of classroom management. I've tried almost everything this year, and I also added several more new ideas! 

One of these new ideas is an online system called Class Dojo. I've only recently acquired a projector in my classroom, so using this program wasn't really possible before. It came at just the right time, though! 

Here is how it works:

After you make an account, each student in your class is given a small creature beside their name. Students start with zero points.

Each time you want to reward behaviour, you can click on the student's name, choose a positive point, and specify what the good behaviour was, (such as being on task or helping others). After you give the point, a small sign pops up saying the student's name and points given, and their total goes up.  

You can start each day with zero points again, or keep going as long as you like. You can also give points from your iphone if you have the app on your phone! This means you can walk around the room while giving points. 

The program keeps track of each student and the whole class with charts, and you can even send these to parents if needed. 

So, how can you introduce Class Dojo to your class?
Here's how I did it, with a series of lessons.

Lesson 1 - I projected the main class page for them to see without saying anything at first. I wanted to see their reaction and let me tell you, they were so excited! They spent quite some time talking and sharing with their friends "Look at mine!" 

I noted that they didn't see the little creatures as avatars so much as "pets" that now belonged to them. I asked the students to name their creature and think of a super-power that their creature might have. Once they had time to think, we shared the ideas as a group and I created a simple writing/drawing activity to help them bond with their creature. They LOVED this! 

Lesson 2 - We did some creative writing about what would happen if we brought our creatures home, or to the store, etc. This was a great tool for writing because of course we'd already decided about magical powers, so the stories they came up with were highly entertaining! One student got to "fly around the world" with her creature; others traveled through space and went on all sorts of adventures. 
We also did a "build your creature" art activity where they simply constructed their creature with colored paper. 

Lesson 3 - After spending the whole day doing the previous activities, I finally showed them the point system. I simplified the settings and showed them how it worked. I decided to do a very short but controlled activity for the first try: silent reading. In my class during silent reading there is soft music playing and everyone reads their levelled books with no talking or moving around the class. Therefore, it was very easy to see if someone was doing well or not, so as they read, I added points. 

Lesson 4 - We reviewed the point system again. I tried to keep everyone within a few points of each other. I "interviewed" the leaders and asked "How did you manage to collect so many points?" "By doing my work, by staying on task, by making good choices, etc." 

There were a few little kiddos who have suffered low confidence all year and it was lovely to see their faces when their names popped up after earning a point, or especially if they realized they were leading the class (which I was sure to make happen a few times). As a teacher, it was so nice to be able to give that positive reinforcement without a word. They often heard the little noise, looked up, saw their name, and then looked over at me to confirm with a smile, and then went back to their work grinning like crazy! So sweet! Lots of precious teacher-student moments there. 

Other points:
-You can award points to multiple students at once, or to the whole class at once! 
-I passed the link to the computer teacher at our school and he was able to bring up my account on his screen and award points in the computer lab while teaching them!

Overall it's quite amazing that technology has allowed for new ways to keep students on track. Since Class Dojo is free, it's worth giving it a try to see if it helps in your classroom. I've also been using it to encourage completion of activities lately. For example, if my students practice a sight word activity with a partner, they receive a point. So simple, but very effective. 

My freebie for you today is the Sight Word Ideas Pack that I'm using with Class Dojo. 

If you teach grades K-3 like me, you'll find some ideas in here! If you teach upper elementary, then many of the ideas can be adapted to use with theme vocabulary.

Have you tried Class Dojo with your class? Did it help with management? Or do you have other programs that worked for you? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below, or feel free to contact me in one of the following ways:

Monday, 8 July 2013

Guest Post - Start the Year off Right! ~ Tabitha Savage.

This is a guest post written by Tabitha Savage. She is currently an instructional coach for an elementary school in her district and she writes about an engaging game perfect for a back to school ice breaker activity! Read on. :)

   Although it's summer for most of us, we all know what teachers start doing this time of year- planning for our next group of sweet faces! If you’re like me, you want the first week to run as smoothly as possible.  I’d venture to bet that our first week of school is most often the lesson plans that are most complete, as we’ve had all summer to think about how we want to start the year with our new students!

I learned early on that there’s power in preparation. My natural instinct would be to jump right in to the curriculum and start teaching all the standards- after all, 180 days will be gone before you know it!

Instead, I’d like to challenge you to plan your first week back to school differently this year. 

Challenge #1- Spend adequate time getting to know EACH of your children.
This seems like an obvious thing to do the first week back to school, but in the rush of it all I’ve found this is the one (arguably the most powerful) thing we can do to change the lives of our students, but it always seems to go on the back burner when we’re on system overload. Your students want to be loved by you- they NEED a personal relationship with you. Once that relationship is formed, you’ll see your students rise to meet your expectations academically. Build the relationship NOW and benefit from it the rest of the year.

Need help getting to know something special about each child? Check out my “Back to School Seat Scoot Activity” on Students move around the room answering cards about themselves and the things they like. Next, students will find someone else in the room who has a similar interest! This is my all time favorite “get to know you” activity, and I’m sure you’ll love it too!

Click on the image to direct you to the product!

  Check out many more activities and back to school treasures at Tabitha's store right here.

Thank you for reading, wishing you awesome and stress-free back to school days!