"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." --John Dewey

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dealing with Behavior Issues?

No, I'm not particularly interested in your behavior.  I'm referring to the behavior of your students, of course.  Are you constantly reminding Bart to stay in his seat, or Lisa to finish her work quietly?  There's an app for that!  Class Dojo is an easy to use website that promises to "improve student behavior and engagement by awarding and recording real-time feedback."  Think of it as super-sized reward stickers for the 21st century.  Here's how it works:
  • Sign up for a free account at http://bit.ly/oagBmZ.  (I'll explain the weird URL in a bit.)
  • Click on the (+ Add a Class) button at the top left of the page.  Choose your grade level, and create a name for your class.
  • Create as many classes as you like.  Perhaps one for each grade level, if you teach more than one, or each subject, or morning and afternoon.  Whatever you like.
  • Add your student list to each class.  Type the names in, or copy and paste if you have a list already typed in a word processing or spreadsheet document.
  • Click on "Classes" in the left margin, and again on one of the classes in your list.  What you'll see is a funny, little comic avatar for each of your students in the class.
  • Click on the "Behaviors" tab at the top of the page, and see the positive and negative "stickers" that are available for you to award your students.  Behavior icons are editable, and you can add more in each category, if you choose.  
  • Now that you're set up, the site is ready for use.  At the beginning of a class period, click on the blue (Start Class) button at the top of the page.  At any time during the class, you can select a student's name, and the behavior "sticker" you wish to award. (You can even do it from your smart phone, if you choose.)
  • Click on the blue (End Class) button when your class is over.
Of course, this site works best if you have a projector in your room, so that your students can see how their behavior is being rewarded.  (It's especially easy to use for those of you with Smart Boards in your room!)  Now, whenever you like you can click on "Report Cards" in the left margin, and create a graphic for each child that shows behavior progress for the time period you specify.  Report cards can be printed for take-home folders, or emailed for more immediate (and paperless!) feedback.

Wondering about the weird http://bit.ly/oagBmZ URL for a site called Class Dojo?  Here's the scoop.  By default, everyone who creates an account at Class Dojo has access to the cartoon avatars.  If you get another teacher to join through a special URL that the site provides (like the one the site generated for me above), you will unlock a special feature allowing you to upload your own pictures or avatars for your students.  Hmm . . . offering teachers something free just for spreading the word about a resource that's worth sharing anyway?  Genius!

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