I resisted Class Dojo for a while. I wasn't really looking for any behaviour management help and I was a little wary of how public it is to the rest of the class. What made me try it? To be honest, pure curiosity. Everyone was talking about it and I couldn't really form an opinion without trying it. Now, I love it! There are different ways to use the features and to implement it into your classroom, so here's my guide to how I use it. It really works for me!
This is very important to me, I NEVER TAKE OFF POINTS. Ever. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement. I've worked at schools with very challenging children filling classes of 33 and still wouldn't take off points. There are a few reasons for this, the main one being that the positive action is not negated by a negative action. They still did the positive thing. The second reason is that it is public. Positives should be public, negative should be private. I've tried and tested this and overall, behaviour improves every time.
What do I give points for?
On Dojo, you can choose the reasons for the points. Our school has 7 Cs the children work towards (collaboration, communication, commitment, confidence etc). They're a little like the 8 Personal Goals in the IPC. Mine are tied to those. Each time they demonstrate a skill, they get a point. I also have one for demonstrating Growth Mindset and sometimes add them for specific goals, eg. reading.
How do I manage the practicalities of giving the points?
I have the Dojo website up on the IWB most of the time. Either I give the points then, or let the children go up and put on their own. They love that!
What is the 'point' of the points?
I've heard lots of ideas on this one, the most popular seeming to be some kind of Dojo shop in school where children spend points. I don't believe in 'prizes' in the classroom. The reward in my class is very simple and very highly sought after: each week I post the 'winner' on the class story page. That's it! The parents all get to see who has earned the most points and I give a little insight into what they earned them for. They love it! Each week, I reset the points.
Team / Group Points
You can organise the children into teams or groups and award points to the whole team. Any given like this give each child a point and one for the team. Each week, we see which team has the most points and they are 'team of the week' the following week. Again, this has quite minimal benefit, but that doesn't seem to matter, which is kind of nice really. Team of the week might get to sit on the table when we read stories, customise their monster on Dojo, line up for lunch first, sit on a cushion... it really varies from class to class. I usually discuss it with them at the start of the year. Again, I reset the points each week.
Whole Class Points
There is a 'whole class' tally on the main page, which keeps track of the points accumulated overall. However, I don't use this. I have a 'student' (fake) whose name is Class. When the children do something well as a class, that fake student gets a point. This one I don't reset each week (you can 'select all' to reset them, then just untick this one). When they have 50, the children get to choose a treat. We've had lots of things, from pyjama parties to 'crafternoons'. At the moment, they're about 8 points away from their treat, which will be Muggle Quidditch! (I think I'm more excited than they are!!).
I asked parents for permission to post photographs of their children on the class story. All but one agreed and the one who didn't was happy for her child's work, hands, voice, back of head etc. to go on there. For group photos or those where she is in the background, I can easily pixelate her using an app. It is such a lovely way to keep parents in the loop. Parents can like and comment on pictures. I'm sure that some people will not be able to use this feature without it causing issues, but you can turn comments off if you like. I've never had an issue with it so far. There is also a School Story, on which you can post things of interest to all parents. What's nice is that you can also post to just a single child's story. I don't use this that often because I like to share with the class, but sometimes the children do presentations and you can put a short video of it on their story. The may not want this sharing with the whole class full of parents, but it's nice for theirs to see. Note: at the moment, you can only post one picture per post, so I use collage apps like Layout sometimes to post multiple pics at once.
Notices and requests
It's handy to be able to post reminders about non-uniform days, swimming kits etc. You can also post notices about homework, show auditions and anything else useful. Last week, I had a mini brainwave and it worked really well!! I realised that I can post requests and the parents can all see what the other responses are. For example, if you're having a class party and you don't want 30 bags of Doritos, you can post what you'd like and ask the parents to comment with what they are bringing to avoid duplicates. I used it for Science experiment bits last week and it worked a treat! (See pic).
Surprising Extra Features
When I signed up, I hadn't realised that Class Dojo has lots of other features too! There are some really useful tools, like a random student selector, a group maker and a noise metre (although the latter always suggests my class are screaming, even if the room is empty!). There is also music for focus or activity, which is great for when you just need something immediately without faffing around. I also love the still-developing Big Ideas section. This has some lovely videos and guided activities on Growth Mindset, Mindfulness, Perseverance, Empathy and Gratitude. My class LOVE the mindfulness section. We use the meditation and movement really often and it's a great start or end to our day.
I completely surprised myself. I love it! I am moving schools (and countries) in August and was delighted to find that my new school use it as a whole school. They've already added me to their account and it's great to be able to really get a flavour of the place already. I am looking forward to continuing to use it next year and would be very disappointed if I worked somewhere where they didn't want us to.
I'd love to hear your experiences of Class Dojo and any tips you have for making a success of it. Comment below or on Facebook.
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!