September 23, 2015

Teacher Stuff: Class Dojo

Let's talk about classroom behavior systems.

When a teacher tells me that they have a behavior system, whether it's a clip chart, card system, etc, and say that it works, I always side-eye them.  I don't believe that.  I tried a card system my first year and it was a disaster.  I remember my principal asking me So what do you do when they end up on black every day? Call parents? Send them to the office?  Every day?

Well, no.  I wasn't going to do that.  What a waste of time for everyone involved.  But as soon as you stop doing things to respond to behavior problems, the kids walk all over you.  And I refuse to I refuse to yell in the first place. I don't even like to yell for the dogs.  It's demeaning to me and to the object of the yelling. When it comes to kids, I usually ask "What is wrong with you you/why are you doing that?"....which might be the same thing I ask the dogs and I like to pretend they understand.

I'm not trying to brag and I could very well be eating my words soon because I have a chatty class this year, but a few principals have called my room the "neatest" and "calmest" in the entire school.  I think the number one reason for this is because I read aloud in the morning, but the more obvious reason is probably because I use Class Dojo.  I'm a Class Dojo mentor actually, and I have a shirt with a big green dojo on it.

You need a few necessary things in a good behavior system.
You need accountability.
You need the students to invest in it.
You need the parents to invest in it.
You need it to be a continuum.  Up and down, highs and lows, rewards and consequences. No dead ends.
You need data and numbers that have meaning.

Class Dojo has all of this.

When a teacher tells me they're not going to use Class Dojo because they "have something" that "works", I don't believe them.  I DO believe that they go home with a sore throat and physically exhausted at the end of the day. Student-behavior issues are not worth my sanity and my health so that's why I use Class Dojo.

Here's how it works:

You create your class (these are pictures of the demo class the website uses...can't show you my actual class because of names and all).

You give students and parents their codes to access the website and the app.

Students design their avatar.

Parents get push notifications on their phone with their child does something good or something not so good.

These are the behaviors I give point feedback on.

Persevering is a big one, so it's weighted to two points. 

I try to be pretty specific to the things I won't allow because that gives parents and kids clear expectations and helps me focus my own expectations. I'm not going to make a big deal about a kid doing xyz, but I will take a point away if they are wandering around while they're supposed to be working. 

You project the avatars onto your whiteboard or Smartboard and the kids see, in real time, who's getting points and losing points.

I use the app on my iPad at school to give and take points and, at the same time, what I'm doing pops up on the board (being projected from my laptop) and 27 students snap to attention.

At the end of the day, we look at our percentages and pie charts to see where we were successful and where our behavior could use some tweaking.

The student(s) with the highest percentage (i.e. beating the class average) gets a prize at the end of the day.

Depending on the class, I use this system more or less.  When I taught 2nd grade, we lived and died by the Class Dojo.  It was a BIG deal.  Last year, my class was really good, so I weaned them off of it and only checked percentages maybe once a week.

This year, I'm taking it pretty seriously because the parents are loving it.  I get messages constantly with questions, concerns, etc.

Truthfully, that's my favorite part of Class Dojo.  Parent communication, admittedly, is always what I try to work on the most because I don't like talking on the phone. This way, I can talk to parents in a format that is more convenient than the phone and way easier than email.  You can craft out a text-like message and send it off.  You get it on your phone as a notification and, really now, I don't think there could be a simpler way for me to communicate with parents.  I can send out a broadcast to all the parents who are connected and get information and reminders across very quickly. When parents contact me, the app makes a certain sound on the iPad and the kids all look up because they know it's one of their parents.

In addition, this feature was just added:

That's a sample picture, not one I took.

I can update parents on what's going on by sending pictures of their kids learning (or hopefully learning).


All in all, I do not consider myself a technology saavy person and sometimes, in the classroom, it just makes life more difficult.  However, I've been using this for 3 years now and I don't think I could not recommend it.  It would work with preschool through middle school or maybe even high school. If you want to know more, let me know!

You don't need an iPad. I've been known to use the app on my phone in class if my iPad isn't working right and I didn't have an iPad for the first few months I used it in 2013-2014. If that isn't an option, you can just use a computer.  As long as you have the internet, you can use Class Dojo.

This is a fun Youtube introduction I showed to the kids this year because they'd never seen Class Dojo before.

I was not asked or sponsored in any way to talk about Class Dojo.  I became a mentor just because I've been on board for awhile and they offer that opportunity to long-time users. However, Class Dojo, if you're hiring...


  1. My son's class used this last year. At first I thought it was just one more stupid app I'd have to download, but then I started to like it. I could ask him what happened when he got points taken away and they LOVED the Dojo parties.

  2. i'm not a teacher (duh) and i don't know if this would work for my husband but i'll send it to him anyway. it sounds super helpful!

  3. I've always heard of class dojo but I think you'r the first person to say they actually use it. Looks great!

  4. Fin literally came home talking about this Tuesday with a note telling me how to sign up for it!


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