May 27, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Free Web Tools Make Classroom Management Fun

ClassDojo

When I decided to become a teacher, the first course I took was on classroom management. It involved all sorts of rubrics and checklists for documenting student behavior—certainly not the most fun aspect of the job, but a necessary one. The records that I learned to keep have come in handy over the years, especially for sharing with students’ parents when we meet to discuss their children’s work. Thankfully, taking attendance and other record keeping no longer require paper, nor do parents and students have to wait until conference time to review this information.

Web tools are a boon to classroom management and make this work more transparent and even fun.

ClassDojo is always a big hit whenever I introduce it to new teachers. The free app can be used for recording attendance and student behavior. Both kids and their parents receive access codes to sign into ClassDojo, which they can do at any time to view their records. Once added to your ClassDojo roster, each student receives an appealing cartoon avatar, which appears each time he or she signs into the tool.

To record behavior in ClassDojo, simply sign into your account and select the appropriate class roster. By default, ClassDojo gives you six positive and six negative behaviors to record. On the positive side are teamwork, helping others, participation, hard work, on task, and persistence. The negative behaviors include disruption, disrespect, no homework, off task, unprepared, and talking out of turn. You can also add custom behaviors for each class. To recognize a student for a particular behavior, select his or her name from the roster and then choose and assign an award.

When I first examined ClassDojo last winter, I thought it was a good fit for elementary school kids, given its cartoonish look. But I discovered that it was being used in middle and high school classrooms, too. High school teachers, it seems, are using ClassDojo to award points during classroom discussions, creating custom awards for students who demonstrate related skills, such as “uses evidence in argument.”

A new service (available by beta invitation only at press time), Class Badges, lets you create custom badges to award to students for completing assigned tasks and projects. The application is best used, I’ve found, on a weekly basis. Rather than bestow awards each day, you might, for example, distribute badges to students for participating in a week- or month-long series of discussions. I created a badge in my classroom to reward perfect attendance for a week and another to honor students for meeting research deadlines.

Class Realm is another new Web tool in beta, this one applying a gaming element to classroom management. When the service is fully launched, Class Realm will assign avatars to students, and only the teacher and the student will know whose avatar is whose. Class Realm can be used to track attendance and class participation, but teachers can also use it to devise “edventures,” which will award points to students for completing a progressive series of activities.

If you’re looking for a new way to encourage positive behavior in your classroom, while also increasing the transparency of reporting, give these Web tools a try.

Richard Byrne About Richard Byrne

Richard Byrne (richardbyrne@freetech4teachers.com) writes the award-winning blog “Free Technology for Teachers.”

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