A new program in Kent City Elementary classes provides parents instant feedback on how their student is doing in class, while encouraging classmates to bring their A-game in a friendly competition to do their best.
The free program, Class Dojo, provides teachers an online medium to give points to their students in areas ranging from ‘helping others’ and ‘working hard’ to ‘homework not done’ or ‘off task’. Teachers can create their own segments, such as fourth-grade teacher Kim Fox’s favorite ‘just plain awesome’. The program allows the teacher to add an explanation for the points given.
Parents who have downloaded the app, get immediate feedback throughout the day on how their student is doing. The initiative allows them to respond to their students struggles or achievements in a timely manner, as opposed to waiting for a report card or parent-teacher conferences.
“Because there is a quick and easy message board, I’ll get messages from parents i may not have heard from otherwise,” said Fox, who implemented Class Dojo during her first year at Kent City Elementary, after having used it during her previous 13 years as a teacher at Godwin Heights Public Schools. Since then, several other teachers in the school have started using the app.
Although the Class Dojo concept remains the same, teachers are finding their own unique way to use it to motivate their students. Fox said she likes to encourage her students to “…celebrate each-other’s successes,” explaining that her students can give classmates ‘dojo points’ and offer their peers words of encouragement.
For fellow teacher Kara Alber, Class Dojo provides a sort of good behavior currency.
“My points convert to fake money,” explained Alber, who writes realistic checks to students and ties it into a lesson on balancing budgets. “School is your job right now,” Alber explains to students, “do a good job, and you’ll get paid.”
Periodically, students will bring in toys and snacks and have a ‘dojo bucks’ auction.
Both teachers said parents appreciate the constant feedback, citing that it has helped some students feel better about going to school. They also said that the ding sound the program makes when points are given “grabs student’s attention.”
“It’s a good positive motivator for students,” said Alber, adding “it gets parents more involved, and helps answer any questions they have.”