California Educator

September 2014

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Page 41 of 65

Learning Teaching ideas There's an app for that! By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Y O U R C L A S S R O O M M A N A G E M E N T style losing its mojo? Perhaps it's time for ClassDojo, a program where students' behavior can be monitored from your iPad, smartphone or computer. With apps for both Apple and Android devices, ClassDojo allows educators to communicate instantly with students and parents about classroom behavior. While there's no studies showing that behavior actually improves with Class- Dojo, it's used by thousands of teachers worldwide, according to its website, where teachers can download the application for free. ClassDojo was created using $75,000 from the 2011 Citi Innovation in Education Prize, awarded to entrepreneurs who develop technology to help educators. It was designed to be fun and game-like for students. Each student has an "avatar" or little icon representing them, which can be customized. Teachers award points for positive or negative behavior. Points can be awarded to individual and multiple students, and are pro- jected onto an interactive whiteboard, so students can see their ratings at any time next to their avatar. ClassDojo also allows parents to log in and fi nd out whether their students have earned or lost points — and why. Teachers say it helps keeps students alert, on task and engaged. They feel they are part of a "game" where they win points for good behavior. However, some have criticized the program, saying that students are distracted from the curriculum and embarrassed in front of other students. Some educators have gotten around this by rewarding points only for positive behavior. Chris Armstrong, a band and general music teacher at Modoc Middle School and Alturas Elementary School, began using ClassDojo at the begin- ning of last year. The sounds from the program — the ding of a bell for good behavior and a drumbeat for not so good — fi t right in with the sounds of middle school students warming up for band practice in the morning. Ding goes the bell for Logan, who is on task and in his seat. Bang goes the drum for Karlee, who is talking to her friend and not paying attention. Bang goes the drum for Logan and Allison for talking instead of listening. Students react to the feedback instantly, by smiling or snapping to attention. By providing feedback with the touch of a fi nger, Armstrong doesn't need to stop instructional time to lecture a misbehaving student. His students, for the most part, like ClassDojo because it's, well, cool. Andrew says he likes the program because it lets him know what he is doing right and what he's doing wrong. If he loses points, he tries to make them up. Another student, Lance, says the program has landed him in detention a few times. The Modoc Teachers Association member and relative newbie to the profession says he is "amazed" at how effective it is at getting kids' attention, and agreed to answer questions for educators considering trying out ClassDojo in their own class. Do students really behave better? Chris Armstrong: I would say it has improved student behavior. When students come into class and see the ClassDojo screen up, they come in more quietly because they can all earn a point for a "Quiet Entrance." Most of the time all I need to do to get their attention is move toward my computer or click on one of their names. When they are working in groups or independently I can sit at my desk and give points for working hard. It is cool Above: The program keeps track of student behavior and displays graphs for all to see. 40

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