Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Class Dojo: Student Engagement and PB4L

This post has been a long time coming.

Over the last year I've used Class Dojo more and more in my classes. The avatars, the point systems and the easy ability to contact parents has been incredibly big pulls for me in terms of use in class and student interest in the app and browser programme.

As a high school teacher - who has been finding different strategies to not only engage my students and create strong relationships with them - it's been imperative to find the right tool to develop those areas but also to maintain positivity in the classroom.

I feel a lot of the tools out there are great - but with Dojo there is the instant gratification of the gamified aspects as well as the cool little avatars that are changeable per student. This buy-in is invaluable for high school students.

Last year when I used it with my Year 12 English class as well as the Year 9 class - it showed that even the seniors were into it - and despite my thinking that they might have thought it was stupid or too babyish for them - they bought into to kaupapa and encouraged others to get more points by displaying appropriate behaviours.

This year, I've tutu'd with it a bit more - developing more focussed behaviours in each class as well as generic behaviours that I want us to look out for. I've asked my students about goals they'd like to achieve as a class and the next step is individual goals.

My Social Studies class is very ambitious - they're trying to get 450 points by the end of this term. My Y11 English class have just started using it yesterday and are already buying into the process and probably just need a bit more focus in terms of the areas we're going to be concentrating on with them, like Growth Mindset and Delving Deeper, using SOLO and Essay Structures appropriately.

What I'd like to do is somehow use Dojo as part of my Gamification in my Social Studies class where points are collated to gain badges along the way as well as build class reward systems that are both intrinsic and extrinsic.

As this year has progressed I've been using it more and more frequently, finding alternative methods to me just adding points. Our Y10 English TA Ria was rewarding points today to students who were working really well, completing work on time and having generally fantastic attitudes. Having used Dojo with some of these students previously - they have a mini-buy in. The issue last year was that I hardly ever had it up on the projector. Even if it's up there just so that they can see the banner come up - it really helps to encourage more students to create more positive attitudes.

I was observed by one of my mentors today using Dojo and in that Social Studies class we have begun going down the class list alphabetically, where each student gets a turn to reward points. My Y10 SS class have bought into the programme so well that they are using the language and developing more appropriate behaviours more consistently.

With my Year 11 class today, we were working on Events and plotting them on the exposition, rising action, climax etc line to show their understanding. Some students were fine and others needed more growth mindset to push them forward. Giving out the invites is always slightly time-consuming because they eventually realise (after I say it about five or six times) that they can change their avatars once they log in on their own at home.

One student took the last few moments of class to jump on my computer to do his and showed the rest of the class how to do it. Very impressed. Showed our TA Marie how to reward the points as well as it will help to integrate the ideals into our class when it's coming from both of us - and plus it's just really cool noticing awesome behaviours.

Of course, we already have a PB4L system - where we give positive pinkies for the students who do well. It was previously done online but has now gone back to a paper system - because the Heads of Houses just don't have enough time to do it online... though if I were a Head of House - I'd more likely lose the bits of paper and would have my phone or laptop on me at all times.. I'd probably invest in a tablet actually...

Anyway... I think that eventually when there are students who are being consistently awesome - then not only will they get their class badge - but they will get positive recognition in their assemblies as well.

What I just found out tonight was that you can add student's pictures up instead of monster avatars!

Over the past few weeks getting the tote bags, stickers and my Dojo Shirt from Jenna and the CD team for when I present on Class Dojo at conferences, I've slowly but surely begun to make more of an impact in school. My new drink bottle was AWESOME. Love love love presents and especially ones from Class Dojo because by having them - they become talking points and I can share my knowledge and experience with the app and ensure that others are using it to help improve their classes as well. Sharing the taonga helps as well because they become talking points for my colleagues as well.

Best comment yet though was when I walked into class with my marking in one of the tote bags - one of my students said, "Oh - so Class Dojo is actually a real thing then..." Love it.

I think using Class Dojo without having previously made a connection with the students would have been harder because - for me there needs to be a lot of moulding of parameters and ensuring students are safe, and focussed. But mostly having students in a healthy headspace that they can functionally be there in class - not just physically. Also - developing strong bonds comes with time - and while Dojo definitely has the potential to maintain and build on those bonds in future -  I just think that there needs to be a bond prior to beginning the CD journey with your class.

Looking forward to the next few days with using Class Dojo and seeing how it progresses with my Year 11 and Year 10 English class.