Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
Every year I have many students that struggle to complete their work, stay motivated, and work through difficult material. I am guessing you have the same situations in your classroom, right? This is what makes teaching unique is that there is a new challenge, and each day is never the same as before. We may have some students that start the year off great and now they are slipping behind because of absences, family issues, difficult content, etc. We try get the most out of our students each day to reach their potential as one of our main goals as teachers. Sometimes we have to pull out many different tools from our toolbox and get creative to keep students engaged in the learning process.
Over the years, I have learned many tips and tricks for helping students stay motivated. Only one so far has made such an immediate and powerful impact on my students. I only began this about a month ago in my classroom, but I can tell you I have seen tremendous results in my classroom and students are more eager to participate, complete their work, and leave with a higher self-esteem than I have ever seen before. Want to learn more and try this in your own classroom? Let’s get to it!
One of the most Important Tools in Your Teacher Toolbox- ClassDojo
ClassDojo has transformed my teaching this school year. This program (which by the way is free) allows teachers to give students real time feedback on how students are doing in class with their work, behavior, supporting and helping others, and much, much more. Although I am just starting out with this program, I am finding more benefits for my students every day. I find myself more of a facilitator in the classroom now, and the students are much more engaged each day because of the powerful features in this program. The students can see at any given moment how they are doing in your class based on how many points they have. They can redeem points at any time or you can reset the points if you see multiple classes in a day if you work in secondary schools. Let’s look at some of the cool features of this free program to support students and teachers at school.
Features of ClassDojo
There are so many great features of ClassDojo, but I just wanted to highlight a few that I have been using recently and have found them to be very valuable for my classroom:
- Ability to Give Timely Feedback– You can give feedback immediately if a student is on task, working hard, helping others. Also, you can give feedback if the student is not showing areas that need work such as blurting out, off task, etc. Each time you give a positive behavior reward there is a “ding” so everyone knows, and a different sound comes up when students are off task, etc.
- Choose Your Target Behaviors- You can add as many detailed target behaviors as you would like. If your students struggle in the hallway, you could create a “hallway” behavior to promote.
- Compatible with Your Devices– All you need is to download the app and it automatically syncs to your computer. I usually have my screen up on the board most of the day so students can see how many points they have. I walk around with either my iPad or phone to give points. I also give access to my teacher assistant and they can give out points, etc. when I am teaching class. This is also a great tool for remote learning. Check out their remote learning resources here
- Big Idea Videos– If you are looking to target a specific behavior, check out the Big Idea videos to get the conversation going. Some examples include showing kindness, positive thinking, mindfulness, empathy, and more that are added all the time.
- Redeeming Points- In my class resource room setting, I have different classes coming and going all of the time. I usually reset my points each class period, but I could see for an elementary classroom keeping the points going for a week or longer and having the students redeem points for a reward such as a classroom store item, extra recess, game time, etc. It is powerful for the students and their families to be able to see how their student is doing over the course of a day or week!
- Teacher Tools– There are cool features like a timer, grouping tool to put students into random groups of whatever size you would like, Think Pair Share questions, random name chooser, and much more all in one place. As a teacher I appreciate how many great features are in just one place. Check out their YouTube channel for more information!
- Connecting with Families– Teachers can invite parents to see how their student is doing each day. These are great opportunities for conversation around what the student did well that day and maybe some areas to focus on more.
The Power of Praise
The best part about ClassDojo to me is the fact that I am now more intentional about seeking out and recognizing the hard work that my students are putting into their work. I felt before that I was only talking to the students who were being disruptive or not getting their work done. Now I am engaging more with all of my students while encouraging them and letting them know how proud I am of their hard work each day.
A Change in Perspective
This program is a great vehicle for a mind shift change in teachers. ClassDojo has many features that a teacher would want on one screen with a simple click. My personal favorites are the quick grouping and the big idea videos to get students thinking on a deeper level. As I go into class each day, I now feel like I can add more value to each student because I am giving them tools, knowledge, and belief that they can succeed. I hope you find this tool as beneficial for you classroom as I have!