What is it?
Basically, Class Dojo is a classroom management system that helps teachers to track student behaviours (both positive and negative) and generates a report at the end of a session.
In action, it looks kind of like this:
Class Dojo is designed to be shown to the class on the Interactive Whiteboard and each of the students can be identified by their own 'monster' alongside their name. If a student demonstrates a positive behaviour, teachers can click on the student's name/monster and assign them a positive point (which comes up green and makes a lovely ping noise!) and likewise, if they are doing something that you want to discourage, you can click and assign them a negative, red point. Any positive or negative feedback is shown on the screen in realtime, so the students can see exactly what they have been awarded. At the end of a session, it can provide you with instant feedback about the kinds of behaviour that students demonstrated during the lesson, helping teachers to give targeted feedback to students.
It is currently running in beta and it is free (yes, free!) - plus the monsters are pretty cute, which is just a bonus really.
What's to like?
I used Class Dojo with my class for a day and the kids really loved it. Sure, I think they are suckers for anything that moves and has bright colours, but the fact that lots of different children have asked about it (including those who got more negatives than positives on the test day), shows that it has made quite a splash with my Year 5/6 class. They keep asking when they can use it again and if they could add some of their on positive/negative behaviour suggestions onto the options. You are able to change these options and add in some of your own (for example, I changed 'creativity' to 'lovely presentation' as this is a current focus in our class), although the default options are fairly inclusive.
As a teacher, I like it because it helps me to keep track of all sorts of things and I can generate a report to give feedback to my class. It has really flagged up a few things that had kind of been going under the radar a bit - certain children who have been interrupting or getting out of their chairs more than necessary that I had kind of let slide a bit. It also gives me evidence to then talk with parents about their child's progress and highlight areas that they are excelling in (such as being helpful) or need to work on (such has handing in their homework on time).
What's to loathe?
The main issue I have with Class Dojo is that it takes up the whole of the IWB screen and, in order to click on any of the students, you need to have it open, right there, taking up the whole board. I find this distracting as it covers up whatever notes/work/etc you have open on the board and breaks the momentum of the lesson. Plus, those children who will do anything for a distraction then just sit there staring at the monsters or the feedback that other students are getting.
If I could design this site, it would look like this:
- A toolbar along the bottom of the screen with a button for each student (with their name and a little monster, just to keep everyone happy!) That way, students could be in control of their own behaviour and you could get them to go up to the board and give themselves the positive or negative reward. That way, it also wouldn't take up the whole screen.
- Pop-up messages that appear over the top of all other windows that say things like, "Great work, Grace. You've been helping others!" when students get a reward. That way, the students would be getting the positive reinforcement they thrive on and it wouldn't necessarily have to interrupt the entire lesson by taking over the big screen.
Lots of teachers have already provided Class Dojo with some great suggestions and feedback as to how to improve the site as part of their beta testing. I really hoping that the good people at Class Dojo take these onboard and make the necessary improvements, as the site has a whole lot of potential.
Personally, at this stage, I'm going to keep using it with my class, although not all of the time. Perhaps as a Thursday treat or just for one subject area? It is fiddly to have to keep issuing the awards for different behaviour and takes everyone (teachers and students) off task a bit.
But, I'm intrigued by what I've seen so far. It could really be a useful tool and I'd like to see more before making my final decision. Huh!