Welcome to the Dojo

Last week, one of my colleagues sent us all out a link to http://www.classdojo.com/ and said that he was using it in his classroom and enjoyed it. I had heard about it during one of my technology PD’s but hadn’t tried it out because when it was pitched to us it sounded like it would be more useful in a situation where students had their own laptops or netbooks or some other form of technology. It was something that sounded like “Well, you could use it in a classroom with only one laptop if that’s all you’ve got, but it won’t be as effective.

But since my co-worker was using it and he doesn’t have any more technology than I do, I thought I’d give it a second look. It’s basically a behaviour management tracking system but it comes with cute avatars and an easy way to share that information with parents. I signed up my class and decided to try it out. Quite a few of us did actually. 

To start it off, I wanted my class to choose the positives and negatives themselves. I had them write down a list of 5 positive things that people should get points for and 5 negatives that they should get points taken away for. We wrote them down on a big list and then debated which ones to keep so that we could get it down to just 5 for each category. They had some great suggestions and it sparked an excellent conversation about what were positive and negative behaviours. 

We’ve been doing it for a week so far and it seems to be working pretty well. I’m noticing students taking a little more care with keeping our classroom clean and it’s a good reminder when they hear a bing that I’m giving points for something. At the end of the day we look at the totals for the class and students can check their own totals. Parents can sign up to get a record at the end of each week as well. 

I have to admit, it’s a bit of a carrot and stick system and while I would prefer them to be more intrinsically motivated to follow expectations, I also see a big benefit. Far too often I feel that students who are always following expectations, are polite, respectful, on-task, they get forgotten or feel like they’re forgotten. We give more attention, both negative and positive to the off-task students because, quite frankly, they need more attention and care. But I appreciate my on-task, expectation following students so much because they give me that time and freedom to take care of my more needy students. I feel like this system gives me a quick and consistent way to show those kids that I am noticing they’re on-task. I am noticing they’re being respectful and helpful and that I appreciate that because I was that kid.

Does anyone else use this program or one like it?

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Preparing them for Middle School

It’s hard to believe, but there are only 2 and a half months left of school for this school year. Already we are getting ready for transition meetings, for people from the middle school to come and talk to our grade 5 classes and for our tour of the middle school. One of the joys and the difficulties of teaching grade 5 is that it is such a big transition year. For some students, this will be their first experience changing schools. Some of my students have been in the same school right from Kindergarten all the way up to now. They’re so used to how things work here. It will be a big change for them in some ways.

I’m hopeful that I’ve helped them to learn some of the skills they will need for next year. I’ve put a big push on them for independence and taking responsibility for their own class work. Some of them have taken to that independence better than others, but I believe that they have all grown in these areas this year.

We just had parent teacher interviews and a few parents mentioned how worried they are about their child starting middle school. They all have different reasons of course but I think that mostly it’s the change that worries them and worries my students and worries me to some extent. I know that they’ll be fine and they’ll cope and they’ll make new friends and keep in touch with the important friends.

With only two and a half months left to go it’s easy to get wrapped up in the pressure of getting everything done as quickly as possible without pause for breath or reflection. Now that report cards and interviews are done, I feel the need to slow down again, do more review, make sure my students are where they need to be and look to where they need to go next.

How do you find your teaching changes at this time of the year?

Have a great weekend everyone!