It is every teacher’s aim to create a comfortable and secure classroom atmosphere to facilitate learning. One of the keys to creating such a setting is an efficient classroom management. There exist many tools available on the web to facilitate classroom management but the one I have been using for some time now is called Class Dojo.
Class Dojo is a free website that allows the teacher to create a virtual representation of his/her classroom and its students. If a teacher has many groups, like for most ESL/EFL teachers, you can create a dojo for each of these groups. All that is left to do in the set-up is to type in the names of your students. Each student is associated to an avatar, a little monster, that can be personalized by the student or the teacher later on. Once your class is set up, the teacher can use the different features of the dojo to take attendances or even set up a timer/countdown. But the most valued feature of the website and the one most relevant to classroom management is to award, or take away, points to students. Once the teacher clicks on the avatar of a student, a window opens with two options available; positive or negative. If the student is behaving well, the teacher will select positive from there he/she can award points for participation, staying on-task, helping others, hard work, persistence, and good teamwork. If, however, the student is misbehaving clicking on the negative button will take off a point from the student. The basic negative options are bullying, disrespect, no homework, off task, talking out of turn, and unprepared. The teacher can customize both the negative and positive buttons to match his/her needs.
The program keeps tract of the students’ behaviors in class and allows the teacher to look for improvement or deterioration from the students over the course of a week, a month, or even a year. Upon creating the virtual classroom, Dojo sends the teacher a list of codes for each students and their parents so they can assess their, and their children’s, behaviors in the class.
In its review of the product, edutopia.org listed why Class Dojo is such a great tool in the classroom;
1- The students really buy-in the idea of the Dojo; they like to have their own customizable avatar, they feel motivated when they are awarded a positive point and understand the seriousness of losing a point. Moreover they know that their parents have access to a recap of their child’s behaviors which reinforces the parents’ participation in their child’s education.
2- It is time-saving. Before Dojo, a teacher would have had to create some sort of grid/poster to put in the classroom and add a checkmark next to a student’s name for good or bad behavior. Then, at the end of the class, write the daily information on a spreadsheet. In Dojo, everything is saved automatically for the teacher. It is user friendly for everyone; the teachers, students, and parents.
3- It makes sharing information very easy. All the information is one click of the mouse away. Moreoever, it gives precise indications to the parents as they know what their child does well and what he/she needs to work on. This facilitates greatly the interactions between the teacher and the parents.
The website is not perfect and betaclassroom gives a couple ideas that would improve Class Dojo:
1- Seating-plan: adding a seating-plan to the website would reduce the amount of time spent looking for a student in the list. This is especially relevant to substitute teachers who do not know your students.
2- Time Stamp: Dojo does not keep track of the time a point was awarded. Adding a time stamp would improve the analytic function of the Dojo and allow better trends.
3- A built-in print button. Some parents may not have a computer at home, or may not be interested in logging to watch their kid’s behavior. Adding a built-in print button would facilitate the printing of individual reports for the not so tech-savvy parents.
4- Hall-pass button. It would indeed be great to have a way of keeping track of the hall-passes given to the students. One less poster in the actual classroom!
Dojo is available on the Appstore and the Android Store so it can be accessed from an Ipad or any other types of tablets.