Class Dojo

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.

Christophe

 

 

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Facebook in the classroom

With more than a billion users, Facebook is a force to reckon with as far as the internet is concerned. Ever since it was created in 2004, it became one of the most primed means of connecting and communicating. Since one of the main goals of ESL is to get the students to communicate, one might wonder of to use the biggest social networking website in a classroom setting.

Facebook allows you to create groups in which added users can share thoughts, opinions, ideas. Having such a group open for an ESL classroom can prove to be an excellent way of sharing the homework assignements, ask questions, share on the topics discussed in class, etc. Why would students partake in the excercise? When asked by emerginedtech.com, a student listed the reasons why she liked using Facebook as an educational tool:

1. We were socially motivated to complete the reading and  contribute to the online discussion.

2. We didn’t spend class time going over that which we already understood.

3. We were able to benefit from insights from peers who generally don’t participate in class discussion.

4. We all learned to focus the vast amount of reading required for such a course to the specific course aims of our professor.

5. Through contributions from our classmates, we understood how each distinct text related to the others and to the class focus, and so on.

Students felt motivated by the idea of using Facebook as it allowed them to go at their own rythm, share thoughts, and… well it’s Facebook… Everyone loves Facebook.

Onlinecollege.org listed more than 100 ways to use Facebook in the classroom. Amongst them we find following neews feed of relevance, creating your own news source and many more. The also made sure to list a couple of applications relevant to the educational world.

As discussed in Classroom Applications, week 2; one should be very careful when using Facebook in a classroom. Make sure you it is not linked to your personal account, make sure the group is closed, friend your students at your own risk, be mindful of what you write on your wall.

A teacher is accountable at all time and Facebook does not forget nor does it forgive, yet it is a great tool and a great alternative to platform soch as blackboard.

 

Christophe

 

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