For those that have not come across ‘ClassDojo’, it is a visually appealing app that has been designed as a classroom reward system for students. Not excited yet? It allows you to give feedback on your students to parents, direct to their favourite device? Excited now?… If I know teachers, they would be nervous about the ‘What if’s’. What if it upsets parents? What if kids can compare other kids? In my experience, this app is worth the commitment and focus and it can be used to build a better school community.
Building communication with parents
Generally speaking, most parents are very interested in their child. Not only from a perspective of how well they are learning; but how well they are developing as a person (for example: confidence, physical skills, social development). Rather than a ‘Big Brother’ type approach, ClassDojo gives teachers the opportunity to provide positive feedback or praise. It can even be easily accompanied by a picture taken on your phone or tablet. Imagine the child’s surprise that afternoon when the parent says how happy they are that they achieved a goal! Should there be an incident or issue, a quick message can be sent so that Mum or Dad is aware. Parent’s appreciate being kept in the loop. Check out this unsolicited blog from a parent: (mommyteaches)
Customise to your class
ClassDojo is customisable. As a teacher, you can decide: should I only have positive points, or should I include negative points (I include negatives, but my stats show over 95% of my points are positive); should I give more weight to some criteria? (I give 5 points for achieving a Mathletics certificate); and what will my criteria be? (Each class may have different criteria). As it is customisable, a teacher may give focus to the areas that they feel are important for students to focus on. You may also choose to link it in with a school recognition program. The image below shows an example of point criteria.
Emphasise the positive
Ultimately, the goal of using ClassDojo is to emphasise the positive. People love positive recognition regardless of their age. Clearly, the recognition needs to be genuinely deserved for the system to have value, so you only give points when it is really deserved. Students can look up their own progress. Importantly, parents only have access to information about their own child. The end result is that students feel recognised by their teacher; and parents gain a positive window into their child’s day.
By generating points on a range of criteria, we are generating data and feedback on our classroom and students. Personally, I link it to a weekly prize draw; and recognition certificates. I also use it for behaviour and general comments at report time. Students and parents also have access to the points in graphical form. See the image below showing positive points for December.
My favourite feature are: the ‘multiple select’ (quickly award points to those doing the right thing); and ‘random select’ (nominate students randomly to ask them a question, then award a point). The ‘random select’ encourages students to pay attention and makes it into a game.
ClassDojo recently set up a ClassDojo mentor system where they identified active teachers in schools who were using their product and asked them if they would be prepared to support their teaching colleagues. This is an important positive step towards assisting other teachers. However, should you not know who your school ClassDojo mentor is, I am sure there are other teachers who would be happy to help you get started.