Goodbye card system, hello Dojo!

To start my tenth year of teaching, I wanted to utilize something different for my behavior management. Previously I had been using the 4 colored card system. This involved a student “pulling a card” for not making a good choice, i.e. talking, not following directions, whatever their choice was that wasn’t follow our classroom rules. For 2nd graders,  I would write their behavior on the card, along with the date, but for third graders I had them write what they did. Viola! I had a record of a child’s behavior.  Points were then given for whatever color of card the child was on at the end of the day. At the end of the month, children could use their points to attend the monthly reward. 80% of the points possible had to be earned to participate.

This worked well for 9 years.

But there were some downsides to it, as there are with anything.

There were times, when I was the one responsible for writing on the card, when I would forget what the child had done. This lead to me asking the child at the end of the day, “What did you do?”

Another downside, was when a child would be asked to go pull a card they would have to stop what they were doing, walk over the the bulletin board, pull a card, write what they did, and the sit back down. All while, I continue to teach. They were missing instruction and course some classmates were occupied with the friend who had to pull a card.

And the last downside, stems from my lack of organization. At the end of the day, I needed to record the points earned by each student. In the beginning I used a pencil and paper chart. That upgraded to an Excel document. Both of these took no more than 10 minutes, but at the end of the day I didn’t want to mess with it.

I knew there had to be something else out there besides the clips that I could use that would work well. I set out on Pinterest during one of my summer coffee drinking mornings. I stumbled upon Class Dojo. Eureka!!! This will work!

  
 If you’re not familiar with Class Dojo, please check it out! The focus of this is rewarding kids for positive behaviors. You can set which behaviors you want to reward and the point level. In my classroom behaviors such as helping others, using manner, being polite, and doing without being asked are positive behaviors that earn points. 

  
Behaviors such as using unkind words, talking with others are talking, or being off task are behaviors that will lose points.

  
On Mondays I have a store open for kids to use the Dojo points they’ve earned to buy items such as candy, erasers, pencils, bookmarks, lunch in the classroom with a friend, and stinky feet pass (no shoes). Many of these items I pick up at the $1 Spot at Target or I use my bonus points when I place a Scholastic book order.

My kids have really taken off with positive behaviors. They do things without even thinking about earning points.

My kids have also liked being able to change their avatar.

  
There is even a Dojo app to download. I have it on my iPhone and iPad. I use both to give and take points. Also, another great feature is the parent messaging. Personal cell phone numbers are never exchanged. Parents can text me and vice versa. Group messaging is also possible. I rarely email my parents. All but 3 of my parents have downloaded the app and use it frequently.

I have also received many positive comments from parents. They love being able to see how their child is doing everyday. Plus it saves me times with keeping them informed.

If you’re looking for a different way to manage classroom behavior, I receommend Class Dojo.

 

Handout for Building a Better Reader

As teachers we often have parents asking us for advice and ideas for helping their child to become a better reader. While searching Pinterest, which is my way of relaxing after a school day, I found this handout on Primary Junction.

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This would be helpful to handout to give parents at conferences since that’s when the conversation of what can be done at home comes up. I’m sending this home with my newsletter this week.

Student Gift Bags for Open House

My summer teacher brain is really starting to swirl around ideas for the next school year, which by the way is 43 days away according to the count down on my school’s website. I haven’t started the laying in bed awake at night with random ideas for reading and math quite yet, but I have of course been on Pinterest scoping out new things to do in my classroom.

Today I came across a blog post on Sunny Days in Second Grade with a classroom tour. This teacher provided lots of classroom pictures of how her room is set up. She also included a nifty idea for student gift bags for Meet the Teacher. Inside she included a tri-fold brochure for parents to take home with classroom information, a supply list, and a guide book her previous year student created to let each new student know what they can expect in her classroom.(I attempted something similar to these guide books with my kids only we called it the ABC’s of how to survive in this classroom, complete with what to do to be on my good side and what to do to be on my bad side. Let me just say these were entertaining.)

Gift bag from Sunny Days in Second Grade blog.

Gift bag from Sunny Days in Second Grade blog.

I love the idea of these gift bags for the simple fact that they give the parents something to carry all the papers or “reading material” as I call they receive on Open House night, which at my school is a stack of papers. In the past I have placed the papers at each student’s desk for the parents to grab. This helps me keep track of what parents and students came by looking around to see whose desk still how the mound of papers. The gift bag will help with keeping everything together and hopefully making it to the house with the parents and not all over the car, that’s what happens to papers in my car. 🙂

In addition to the trifold brochure and various other paperwork, I think I would add in a small welcome gift that I always see on Pinterest for the student. Hmm, a refrigerator magnet with my phone number, email, and class website for the home would be neat too. Maybe I could get that going during these last 43 days.