Guest Tech PD Post ~ Using Class Dojo with Middle Schoolers

(Last Updated On: April 21, 2017)

By: Jennifer Lindner

I have been researching a variety of technology tools to help enhance my parent/teacher communication. I service children who may be a bit discouraged with academics, lack motivation, and need to focus/reflect on the behavioral choices they make. In my research, it seems Dojo will be a great tool to promote positive behavior and help motivate the students to progress and, in addition, enhance parent communication with the daily report.

I work with students in grades K-8 and wanted to find a tool that I could use for all grade levels. This is why I think Dojo would be a great option. Dojo is free and it allowed me to easily set up my classes and personalize the categories I would like to focus on. I created my account using my school email, which was quick and painless. Once I was on Dojo I chose icons for each of my classes and simply entered the student names. It assigns avatars for each student that you can change or allow the students to change. Next, I chose which positive and negative behaviors I wanted for each class. They have pre-set options or you can personalize it to your class needs. To set up my 9 classes literally took me 15 minutes max!

I also set up a “mock” class so that I could experiment with this tool. I took attendance for my mock class and then was able to assign points to an individual or to the whole class. Dojo does recommend focusing on the positive behaviors over the negative ones. I like this focus since sometimes my students feel a little defeated.

Another positive with Dojo is that parents can have insight into their child’s behavior during the day. I set up a parent account by entering the parent emails. Once their emails were entered it gives you an access code that you can print out for the parents. The parent would then use this code to have the ability to see all of their children’s information. Very easily, I was also able to send an individual message to one of the student’s parents or, if I wanted, you can send a group message. I set up a parent account so I could see that end of it. The message I sent was in my mailbox by the time I opened up my email. As a parent, I was able to respond back to the teacher. That message also came to me (as a teacher) immediately. What a great up-to-date way to keep your parents informed.

In addition, there is an app for Dojo that I downloaded on my phone. I used this with my mock class as well and it was very easy to use. I am excited to be able to utilize this app so that I am not tied down to a computer and instead can circulate around the room while awarding points.

I am excited to use Dojo in my classroom this year and plan on using Dojo to award incentives and possibly even utilize it into my mandatory grading. My only concern is that Dojo may be perceived as being too “elementary” by the parents and middle school students. I spoke with other middle school teachers from other districts who use Dojo and they said the students love Dojo. I also wanted to read what people were specifically saying about using Dojo at the middle school level and was pleased with all of the positive articles and blogs. Here is one quote from a middle school teacher who has been teaching for eleven years:
“I have been using Dojo in my classroom for two years and absolutely adore it! Dojo is a free (!) online tool that allows teachers to set up classes and keep track of positive and negative behaviors in class. When I first learned about Dojo, I was not sure if it my students would find it too babyish or silly. I had nothing to worry about- middle school students LOVE Dojo!!”

After hearing the positive reviews, I was more confident that I could implement Dojo into the middle school. I went ahead and set up my 7th and 8th grade classes and made the behavior options more personalized for the middle school. For example, at our middle school, the students have their own laptops that we work on daily. I was able to add “is logged in” as a category to encourage the students to get their computers set up immediately. I also added “on time” so students will be held accountable for their attendance/arrival during transition time.

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