Friday, August 24, 2012

ClassDojo - My Thoughts!

My experience in using ClassDojo has been limited by the fact that I didn't test it out with my students until the last week of summer school, but it was extremely positive.  On a whim, I set up the class and tried it one morning.  I got off to a slow start, but immediately saw my students engagement increase.  They were excited to see the points on the board, and really wanted to hear the audio notification!  One of my students tried harder at reading then I have ever seen while we were using ClassDojo!

I found the site easy to use, easy to set up classroom, and very easy to award points using the mobile log-in on an iPad or iPod Touch!  I even found myself giving more positive feedback to students, and avoiding negative comments.  This in an area that I think makes ClassDojo unique.  By having a list of positive reinforcers in front of me (or one of my instructional assistants), it forces you to go to the positive first.  I'm the first to admit that I have a tendency to focus on negative behaviors of students and this really helped me stay more positive.

I have chosen to turn off notifications (visual and audio) for negative behaviors, this a personal choice.  I still tracked those behaviors, but didn't want the students to get caught up in seeing negatives displayed for the entire classroom.  The students didn't seem to notice, they just liked seeing their number go up!

As of right now there is no way to track individual students across different classes, but in Twitter conversations they have mentioned this functionality is coming.  I think this is my biggest holdback with the site.  While students do have a place to access their data and customize their avatar, the data it shows is aggregated from different classes and the student has to enter several different codes to get it working.  I'm hoping that upcoming updates will help with this, because I think it is essential if multiple teachers what to track one student and get the most accurate data.

I also think the data keeping could have some improvements made.  It is a nice feature to have a classroom report emailed to you at the end of each class, with an overview of the points given.  This is wonderful in a general education setting.  In a special education setting it is not enough information.  As I stated in the previous post, you can email individual student reports to yourself or parents, but you have to enter an email address for each student, every time you end the class.  This can obviously become cumbersome very quickly!

With that being said, I think this is a very transformative tool for classroom management, and will be very seriously figuring out how to make it work for my classroom situation.  I think using the "percentage" as a way to gauge a students behavior, might be an extremely positive way to look at it.  Not just numbers (which is essentially what I'm doing now), but a more complete picture of their day.  In my head I think that showing students their "percentage" throughout the day may help them see how they can improve their day, if needed.  I haven't worked out all the details, but it's the direction I'm heading in.

This tool has a lot of potential and I'll be looking forward to the upcoming updates!

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