Our building was recently the beneficiary of our school district’s technology upgrade rollout program. Basically, there was a certain amount of money set aside, by the district, to upgrade the resources we as teachers have available. We are an “Apple District” which means that we primarily use Apple machines in our schools. For the past two years, I have had to work with an ancient, decrepit eMac that could barely run a web browser and took forever to load any software. With the upgrades, I now have a MacBook Pro and four iPads. I have been exploring all of the many educational and educator apps available through the iPad App Store, and have been very excited about some of the resources I now have available.
Of course, I am not going to let students use the iPads until I have some protective cases for them. We have bulk-ordered these as a building, but I don’t know if we will get them in before the end of the year. (We have, after all, just four more weeks of school remaining!) I have let a small group work with an iPad until my close supervision a couple of times, but once I have the cases, I’ll be able to divide the class into four groups so that everyone can work with them. I am really, truly excited about the ways I will be able to integrate technology in the classroom in just a short while!
One of the apps that I have started using was recommended by another teacher in the building, who has been using an iPad for quite some time. The app is for a website called Class Dojo. What is Class Dojo? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a delightful video that gives a good overview:
What I like most about this app is that it isn’t an “assertive discipline” program. It isn’t created to punish students for misbehaving, nor is it designed to reward students for following classroom expectations. Instead, it is created as a tool to help student monitor their own behaviour. I am able to easily see which students are staying on task and which students need some extra support. I was really pleased with the results! I had one student who started the morning off a bit rough, but after I showed him his Class Dojo report, he said, “But Mr. Valencic, can I have a second chance to improve?” I said, “Well, of course! We still have several hours of the day left. You show me you can stay on task and work hard and your overall score will show that!” By the end of the day, he had made huge gains and was more focused than he has been in a long time.
Another thing I like about Class Dojo is that parents are able to access their students’ individual reports online, too. Every parent was sent an access code today along with my weekly class newsletter, which explained what Class Dojo is all about. Parents can check in and see how their students are doing and provide support and encouragement as needed!
Yet another thing I like about this program is that my students have completely “bought into” it! Throughout the day, students would ask for an update on how they were doing. Whenever they saw me reach for my iPad, they knew that I was going to be marking for positives and negatives and they reminded each other of this before I had to say anything. Some students wanted to know if the points they earned would translate into anything. I told them that they would not; the points are simply to create a quick analysis of behaviour. While I have many prize systems in my classroom (a RESPECT board and a weekly drawing of APPAWS tickets being among them), I don’t want Class Dojo to become a competition or a prize system. I really want it to simply be a tool that will help me help my students help themselves as they work toward being more independent!
This entry was posted on April 26, 2013 by Alex T. Valencic. It was filed under Fourth Grade and was tagged with Fourth Grade, Grade School, Philosophy, Social & Emotional Learning, Teachers' Secrets, Technology.