Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Classroom Management Plan + a special announcement from Class Dojo!

Ok guys, it's been a while since I've blogged. I went on (a very needed and wonderful) vacation in Maine. We had a great time, saw and visited with lots of family members we don't get to see often, ate delicious food, and played at the beach! Ah! Then...on our way back home, my transmission died and we were delayed an extra four days while our car was being fixed. Ugh. Anyway, we made it back home and I just couldn't muster up the strength to blog. I've been getting my class lists for each subject I will teach, and there have been a lot of changes. But more on that later!

Today, I wanted to share with you what I plan to do with Class Dojo this year. I teach eleven different technology classes each week with first through eighth graders. This year, our school is adding on 9th grade, so I will be teaching (sped) high school technology as well. Whew! I'm a little nervous, considering I don't have a technology degree, and I was just chosen to teach technology a few years ago because "I was the person in our school who knew the most about technology". Funny. I mean, I'm comfortable navigating computers, the internet, social media, etc. for myself, but teaching others...not my best area. However, I try to make the classes useful, engaging, and fun for my kiddos.

I used to struggle with getting my students to follow technology lab routines each day. I would have at least four different classes each day with 10-12 students in each class coming in to the same 12 computers in an already tight space. So, I created something called a "Correct Exit" (so fancy, right?) because I wanted them to leave the computers ready for the next class to come in and start.

We talk about them a lot and practice the routines at the beginning of the year, and I award a Class Dojo point for "correct exits". The steps are
1. log off computer (blue screen)
2. headphones returned to CPU
3. push chair under all the way (again, the space is tight in between my two computer tables)
4. stand behind your chair and wait to be dismissed

Last year, I started using Class Dojo in my technology classes, and what I would do is after students would reach 5 points, they could get a prize from the prize box or candy. I'm not crazy about giving out prizes and candy, but when you only have a class for 30 minutes twice a week, or for an hour only once a week, it's difficult to have authentic classroom rewards.

I decided to change it up a bit this year. I checked out a few blogs today as well as TPT for some ideas with Class Dojo. I found this blog post by Nasreen at Upper Grades are Awesome! It gave me just the inspiration I needed: BRAG TAGS! Then I found this FREE brag tag (Class Dojo) product from A Trendy Teacher on TPT. You don't get much better than free! :)
 I decided to go with the 10-point system. After my students reach 10 points, they will get a small prize (maybe a pencil or sticker) and a brag tag (10 point winner!). At 20 points, they will get the 20-point brag tag and a small token or prize (bouncy ball or candy). At 30 points, they will get the 30-point brag tag and a little "nicer" prize. I got a bunch of the little finger lights that my kids LOVED last year. I got mine at Oriental Trading, but you can find them here much cheaper. (I originally started using them with Flashlight Friday, which I think was an idea from Diane at Fifth in the Middle - I could be wrong about that - please leave me a message if you know who started Flashlight Friday.)

I printed out enough for each student to get to all levels (I'm positive and hopeful!), and then I laminated all of them. My husband helped me cut them out, what a sweetie!

I'm actually VERY excited to start using this positive reward system in my tech classes! My kids will love showing off their awesome behavior and rewards throughout the school!

Now, I mentioned in my title that there is a special announcement from Class Dojo today....are you ready? Class Dojo now has "group points"! So many of us put students in pairs or groups to collaborate (and listen:) It only makes sense that groups can earn points just like individuals can!

I love how Class Dojo keeps things simple. The purpose of CD is to manage a class by encouraging positive behavior and keeping negative behavior in check. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how easy it is to share how a student is doing with their parents, and even more so, I love how easy it is to message parents on CD. I keep my phone with me all the time, even at home, so if a parent messages me or asks me a question, it pops up on my phone and I don't have to worry about missing a school email and the information is relayed quickly and easily!

This is how it works, according the Class Dojo:
ClassDojo Groups enables teachers to group students any way they like: table groups, reading
groups, house teams, project groups and more. Teachers can easily encourage a team for any
skill important to their classroom with just a single tap. Each group will keep its own running
total, which students love to maintain a sense of accomplishment and a desire to keep going!

Group points will still show up on student profiles alongside their individually award points, so
that students can see their progress from home and so can parents without any extra work.

So basically, Class Dojo just added a feature that has been requested by teachers for a while, and they complied! If you have reading groups, or if your students are grouped by tables, then this will make your life easier! That's what Class Dojo is all about!

If you haven't started using Class Dojo, put down those punch cards (save yourself from getting carpal tunnel syndrome), and put away those clip charts (somebody is always going to be moving below the others :( ). Try it out today. You will love it. Your students will love it. Your parents will love it. I call that a win-win-win! :)