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PTHS ‘enters’ Class Dojo

App gives teachers, students easier way to monitor behavior

Posted: November 4, 2014 5:27 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2014 1:00 a.m.
Simone T. Owens/C-I

Pine Tree Hill Elementary School (PTHS) teacher Laci Tobens uses Class Dojo to track students behavior in her class. PTHS faculty began using the app this year after technology teacher and site administrator Sarah Beltz introduced it following her move from another school district.

 

Pine Tree Hill Elementary School (PTHS) incorporated a new technology tool school-wide this year providing teachers with what teachers said is an easier way to track student behavior, as well as allow students to monitor their own behavior. The application, or app, is called Class Dojo.

PTHS technology teacher and site administrator Sarah Beltz helped the faculty incorporate the app into their classrooms after PTHS Principal Melissa Royalty advised her to do so.

Beltz began using Class Dojo four years ago when she taught at Richland School District 2 after being assigned to teach a grade and class type in which she had little experience. While in search of an innovative way to keep her students on track, Beltz was introduced to Class Dojo.

“I saw a huge improvement not only in behavior, but also in academics,” Beltz said.

Beltz said she found it so effective, she continued using it after moving to Kershaw County.

During the summer, Beltz conducted a workshop to show Kershaw County teachers how the program works. All PTHS teachers were using the app by the fourth week of school. A few teachers at other schools in the district are using the program as well.

The app allows teachers to track each student’s behavior by awarding points for positive behavior if they act according to designated behaviors and points for misbehaving. Teachers can individualize the app by creating specific behavior labels, which include a photo to represent the behavior and a brief description. Such behaviors may include being on task, being on time and participating in class. If a teacher wants to elaborate or explain why a student received or lost a point, he or she can type a note underneath the behavior.

Teachers can also use Class Dojo to make students responsible for their own actions by allowing them to approach the app displayed on the board and award themselves a point for completing a task such as homework.

“Little kids don’t always know how to monitor their behavior, and they need to learn how,” Beltz said. “It helps them learn consequences.”

The app also allows students to create their own monster avatars to include in their profiles.

Although students can obtain a username to log on and check their progress, they cannot see the progress of their peers. However, they can view the overall progress of their entire class, and when a teacher has the app open on his or her board, and decides to award negative or positive points, the action produces a different sound that let’s students know if someone was awarded a positive point or a negative one.

Beltz said the app is also a good tool to easily and quickly alert parents about how their child is behaving in the classroom. Each point a student gets is applied to a chart that shows the percentage of negative and positive points he or she has accumulated.

“Most parents have really enjoyed that they can see real-time progress,” Beltz said.

The app saves teachers time, too. Parents can gain access to Class Dojo and check the points and comments given to their child. Teachers do not have to take the time to manually track students’ behavior for parents. Parents can also sign up to receive text or email messages with a report of their child’s behavior.

Teachers award students for their positive behavior at the end of each week, every day or after they have received a certain amount of points. Lower grades have their behavior points reset every day or every week, while higher grades have a behavior report where points are added to the points from previous weeks.

Beltz said she has come to realize the app not only encourages students to behave properly in school, but also in life.

“It’s kind of our job to teach them to be community members and how to exist in their culture,” Beltz said.

Beltz said she wants to encourage all teachers who are not currently using the program to try it out.

 

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