Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 28 - Class Dojo

Class Dojo will not apply to every participant in the 30 Day Challenge as it is specifically designed for the classroom teacher, but I encourage you to be open-minded about the possible applications for this classroom management tool, which was introduced in beta early this fall, caught the attention of  educators from the UK to the US, and garnered top prize in NBC News' Education Nation Innovation Challenge. Later in this post, I will share an invitation for you to start your own class(es) with Class Dojo. 

On the most rudimentary level, Class Dojo is a real-time, digital star chart for student behavior. Yet with some thought and planning, leaders can use it for much more. Based on game mechanics like leveling up, badges, unlocking achievements, avatars and leaderboards, Class Dojo's notifications, when projected on a whiteboard, can keep students aware of their achievement, recognize the correct choices they made, and reinforce their understanding of the behaviors, skills or activities necessary to succeed in class. Take a look at the main features:

1. Personalization  You can tailor the rewards to promote the learning environment you want, rewarding things like excellent questions, great insight, creativity and collaboration. Add and remove any number of positive or negative behaviors you want to track. You can also build out both groups but display your choice of both or just one when working with the class. All you have to do is adjust your class settings. There are optional award sounds too-- positive behaviors are associated with a bell and negative have a little buzz.

Don't like the little monsters? You can have students create their own avatar image or use photographs which they share with you so that you can upload them. There is a cost associated with personalizing, but you can get that waived by inviting a friend to register (even if they don’t accept, you get the bonus feature).

2. Mobility
You can be anywhere in your classroom and enter data using a netbook, iPhone, or iPad (will you be the lucky winner?).  No need to be tied down to your desk or to precord points on paper that will have to deciphered, entered and analyzed at the end of the day.

3. Analytics The site analyzes class or individual progress overall (such as earning more positive than negative) as well as each type of behavior (24% of positive points awarded for correctly answering questions) helping teachers and administrators understand what is actually happening inside their classrooms in a data-driven way.

Under “Report Cards” you have the option to add notes (not seen by students) at any point in time, which is particularly helpful when wanting to follow-up to a particular event. You can even opt to keep the note private or share the note with parents or other teachers.

4. Parent Communication
Circumstances often make it difficult for teachers to provide parents with as much feedback as we would like. With Class Dojo you can email each parent how their child did in class that day or at the end of a time period. You also have the option to print out the reports.

5. Rewards is one of the upcoming features, but in the meantime, many teachers have built in their own system. One simple idea is to start off the entire class with the same avatar monster image and then allow students to personalize or choose their favorite monster avatar once they've met a goal.

Here is your personal invitation to join Class Dojo.  If you want to learn more about this tool check out these blogs:

So, what if you decide it's worth your time to create an account?  Once you're logged in there are tutorials to walk you through setting up your classes. The developers include a demo class where you can try your hand at awarding points and even go in and change settings.

On the lower right corner of the screen there is a Help & feedback button. Not only can you get quick answers, but these guys listen to user suggestions! This is the cool thing about tools in beta, several changes have been made to Class Dojo in response to user feedback:
  • You can award the whole class or a small group an award in one step using the new Give Awards option. 
  • You can resize the avatars so that your students are all visible on one screen without scrolling up and down. 
  • You can control notification sounds and which notifications are visible 
  • You can enter student names in any order and the site will alphabetize them for you.  You can sort by either first or last name.
Your assignment: Think outside of the box. Clearly you could use this tool as a classroom management tool, but imagine a specific use for this gamified leaderboard to be used with learners/attendees. No credit for using it in the obvious ways spelled out in today's post; although, you can build on ideas shared in the linked blogs.


  1. For me the specific uses are that I have set up two of my music classes to try this with. We have a behavior system in place in our school where we give out reward tickets to those who we see doing a good job. For these classes, I am going to experiment and see if having the visualization on the screen is a motivation for them, and also to help me keep track of who is getting them the most, or not getting one, or being overlooked. I try to give one to each student every grading period, but sometimes they get overlooked if they are not particularly outgoing. I think this may help with that. Also to help them see how they are doing. But I also know they will spend a lot of time looking at the characters! Since I have several classes, I'm just going to start it with a couple and see how they do. I also thought of the "dojo" for the recorders that I teach and we use a karate level belt award system. This could be used with that to promote them to the next levels.

  2. I have my students in groups of four. I use Kagan structures in my classroom and encourage class and team building activities. I think this could be a way to encourage students to exhibit the desired team behavior. I sometimes even forget to implement some of the suggested Kagan strategies as they work in teams. This would be a visual reminder and would greatly enforce the idea of helping others learn, asking for help, praising one another's progress and achievement, etc. I can also see this as a way to record progress on mastering concepts for the semester or maybe just the concepts within a unit. Having the progress chart would make setting up differeniated instruction/assignments more manageable. I am not sure how the high school students will respond to the little monsters, but my guess is they will get a good laugh at first and then desire to see the points go on the board.

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  3. Looking at the DoJo, I see how the gaming culture of high school students would fit in. And in my inclusion room, this might help with some management issues.

    In an inclusion room, the challenge is how to push the high levels while nurturing the lower levels, keeping them all moving forward. This kind of reward system and instant feedback might be just the kind of motivation for all students.

    I can see this being really effective in a discussion setting, having it up on the board while we talk. I can also see this in situations where they are working on an assignment. Like the ESPN show Around the Horn, where guest speakers are awarded points while they speak, students would gain points for insightful comments, or helping someone else out with their work. And the negative is there too.

    With live points and a visual to go off of, I can see where could be a great way to keep students on task and motivated.

    Of course, the downfall here is that if you don't have an iPad or a smart phone, it might be a bit difficult to do, unless you are sitting right at your desk.

    Overall, this is kind of interesting to me and I would like to play more with this.

    Here is a link to Lil Wayne on Around the Horn as an example of what I am thinking about.

  4. This is a fantastic tool which could be combined with the STARS classroom management system we already have in place in many of our classrooms. The visual aspect in addtion to the use of the avatars would be very motivating for our students. On another note, with regards to our workshop model, we spend an entire month teaching the comprehension strategy of questioning. Our teachers spend a great deal of time encouraging their students to ask "thick" questions (higher-level thinking) rather than "thin" questions. This tool would be great for motivating the students to ask thick questions and then actually use the results as a type of formative assessment.

  5. I am using Class Dojo with my large chorus classes and it has been very successful! Being able to use my phone to enter data while I am at the piano is so useful. I especially like the random feature - one click and a random student gets positive feedback. In my large performance classes, it is easy for me to focus on the negative. Using this has forced me to give more positive feedback and has improved the overall behavior of the group. I have customized the behaviors and input rewards for content-specific skills like posture and diction. While my students are performing, I give 4 or 5 of them positive points. I can say, "yes, you are doing this right!" without having to stop the song.

    I have been using this for two weeks and have been brainstorming ways to take this further. I have already started to incorporate this into their weekly performance grade, and points add up to individual and class rewards. My students just get excited about seeing their name pop up with the +1, though. I love seeing them congratulate each other for good work.

    To take this a step further, I would like to start using it with my general music classes as well. I could use this to track their progress on the project-based tasks they are working on. They all work at a different pace, and I have been looking for a way to manage this more effectively. I could give students a list of tasks to complete during the course of a project, assign points on Class Dojo for each, and then assign grades for the project based on the points earned.

    @Jolie, I LOVE the idea of using this for recorder karate! Building on that idea, I could do something similar with sight reading exercises with my chorus by assigning points and levels for each exercise completed.

  6. Right now in my classroom, I have a "proud paws" wall where I post paw prints with student names on them when they get a 100% on a quiz or test. The students are so competitive and keep track of who has the most paw prints.
    Instead of having the board, I could see turning this into a virtual board. With the ease of the virtual points, I could give more points for a perfect score on a test when only one person receives a 100%. Right now, I give every person the same recognition. The Class Dojo would make the points much easier for students to see who is in the lead and foster the competitive edge.

    I like John's idea of the Around the Horn. Instead of giving points only for tests, really strong answers could get points as well or even really good questions that foster good class discussion.

    I second Kara. I love Jolie's idea of the karate belt system. Maybe for every 10 points a student gets, they go up a belt.

    I see that a new feature is giving small groups a point. This would make the scoring for class games so much easier. Rather than having to write down who is in each group and who earned how many points, I can see it being very easy to use Class Dojo to keep score. This way the pace of the game can stay fast rather than slowing it down to tally up the scores.

  7. I have used this tool for classroom management before with a lower level, inclusion class, but found that it was time consuming to constantly minimize what we were working on and pull up this site each time I wanted to reward or subtract points.

    I use dry erase boards quite often in my classroom to practice math. I could see keeping track of who is working each problem would be a nice way to use this tool and also have a documented score to enter into the gradebook as participation points later.

    Another way I can see myself using this tool is for data collection for myself. Many times, I will ask for a show of hands of "who understands" this concept, or "who completed #5 without any trouble" I count the show of hands, take note of who stills needs help, and move on. If I quickly clicked their monster I would have data, not only on the number of students (but also who they are) recorded.

  8. Andrea, I'm glad you brought up the issue about displaying the screen. The designers are actually working on a solution. The idea is that the program could run behind your other windows and a pop-up would appear then fade out with updates. You wouldn't necessarily manage the data from your computer attached to the board; rather you might use your netbook.

  9. To be honest, I haven't had time to sit down and read through the prior comments, so if I'm mirroring someone's thoughts, I'll come back and write some more.

    I don't like extra credit, because I think it puts regular credit on the sidelines and it teaches kids (inadvertently) to look for last-minute solutions to problems. Stick with me...

    One thing I have done in the past is offer Community Building points (or something along those lines). We're all in the building for 7 hours a day, we might as well offer incentives to help make it a better place. Community building can be anything...helping clean the room after class, helping carry someone's books, reviewing with a long as they positively influence the community, they are building a better school. I've offered minor incentives (homework passes, for example) to get the process started. I'm not trying to motivate them extrinsically the entire time, but something to get the ball rolling.

    So, what I'm getting to is that ClassDojo might be a good way to keep track of community building between classes. Start having some friendly competition that has a positive spin on it to encourage kids and get people working together again.
    I haven't done it this year, yet. But second semester I might come back to it and see what pans out.

  10. I have been using this for several weeks, since our e-learning coach brought it to our attention. I use it specifically for its positive points only. I do a class-wide point system that rewards the students once they accumulate enough points. I have it set up as one class and my "students" are my individual classes, not my individual students. The kids love to watch their points accumulate and the specific reason why.

    I am not sure about the negative comments though. My students take a dim view on negative versus constructive criticism. But, I can see myself using them in a different environment. Great tool!

  11. A few others have already mentioned this but I think this would be a great tool to use to promote collaboration and team building activities. Several lessons and projects I do in my class involve a group or team working together on a technology or math project. I think this program would be a great way to promote and track team-building skills. One of my biggest challenges and frustrations seems to be with getting students to work together toward a common goal.

    I always give individual grades as I don't believe in "group grades." Each students knows that they are responsible for certain work and that they cannot just coast through using other's work. Using this visual reminder in class might be a great way to reinforce what I've been teaching and preaching! This tool would allow individual students to see how they are progressing during a project. I have not yet had time to see if you can have groups or teams within a class but if so, that would be great to show not only team progress but also individual successes as well.

  12. I have used Class Dojo with 4 grade levels. My fifth grade students loved it and loved earning positive points, which I used to make positive phone calls and notes home. The 6-8th grade students weren't nearly as motivated by it. I also had the same issue as Andrea, with having to switch screens to award the points. It worked well for individual working time, but during class it was a hassle.
    I think this tool would be really useful for students with IEP's who need to set goals for themselves. They are also often visual learners. Being able to see their progress on the board, these students could modify their behaviors without verbal cues.
    I also run a "store" in my classroom. I have considered turning it into online banking, where each Dojo point is one dollar. This way, they don't lose them and it's easier for me to take away dollars for inappropriate behaviors. Then I run into the screen issue again. I think with a mobile Dojo device, I could appropriatley implement Dojo in my classroom.
    I'm sure there are many more ways to use it, but these are just a few of my ideas.

  13. Hi Kalen from ClassDojo here. We all just read through this blog post and all the comments. Loving the feedback! We're hard at work on a ton of new features (many of which you mentioned in the comments!) so we should have those out relatively soon!

    In the meantime, please keep letting us know how we can make ClassDojo a more effective tool for you (you can add/vote up new ideas here:!!

    Also, we love chatting with teachers via phone, Skype, or Google+ hangouts to hear their thoughts. In addition, we're looking for teachers to write guest-posts for our blog or make videos that show how they are using ClassDojo in the classroom! Great opportunity to showcase your methods to thousands of other teachers. Let me know if you want to set something up!:


    ps. Shout out to John for the Around the Horn and Weezy references :)

  14. Ok, I've worked most of the day to come up with a fresh idea on how to use ClassDojo. Since I teach Japanese and this is named after a Japanese item you'd think it would be easy! However, I thought of a few ways to use it that are outside of the management box.

    1. Keep track of points per class member on our Class vs. Class or team vs. team vocabulary game. My students seem to be motivated by competition. Right now I keep track manually on a sign posted on a bulletin board of how many points each class or teacm has. Also, it would be nice to award the top individuals in each class for knowing their vocab. This would easily monitor how many each student and class a whole completed.
    2. Keep track of the Sensei Yen I give out. Sensei Yen is my system of awarding students who complete their homework. Each completed homework is worth 1 yen. These can then be used for bonus points on a quiz or homework. I could use this as their bank since they sometimes lose the slips of paper.
    3. I could use this to keep track of points in any game we play in class. We play a ton of games and its not always handy to have a note paper and pen. Also, this saves trees!

    I'm going to introduce this to the students tomorrow!

  15. I can't decide if my teenager would think it is crazy. I do think for project based learning it would be a unique way to spice up keeping them on track and rewarding collaboration and creativity. I'm not sure what Dan Pink would say? Anyone have thoughts on that?

  16. I don't have thoughts on Daniel Pink Mrs. J, but I am thinking way left. What if you used the 'class' idea for the building? From my vantage point as an administrator, it could be a great way to have classrooms compete for a larger prize based on the elements the principal or faculty wanted to highlight to promote positive school culture. How many referrals have come out of Mrs. J's class (for instance!), or was Mr. So and So's homeroom respectful and responsible on the playground today? That type of stuff. If teachers were open to it, it may also be a way of building community among adults by getting points for being collaborative (and losing points for complaining or not being solution oriented in staff meetings)! As a way of reminding us about the way we interact with/talk to students, and keeping that always positive and respectful. The incentive could be a few extra minutes of plan time, or a few less minutes on bus duty, or even a nice card or something the principal or AP wants to do to reward teachers for modeling positive behavior with kids.

  17. I am intrigued with the data collection aspect of this tool. I think it could be used with an individual student to set persoal goals. When using it with an individual who needs help with staying on task, eliminating disruptive behaviors, or increasing participation the teacher and student could work together to pick a behavioral goal. Prior to the goal setting meeting with the student, the teacher could gather some baseline data by privately recording positve and negatives over several class periods on this student. Using those baseline percentages the teacher and student could set a goal for improvement. The pie chart diagram showing the data collected would make progress toward goals very apparent and could be very motivational. The parent communication function could help the teacher get important behavioral data to the parents quickly and easily. Having specific data to share with parents provides a much clearer picture of a child's behavior.

  18. I love the visual aspect of this tool. The students can visually see how they are doing. For me, I would allow the student with the most points or reached their goal first at some specified time to bring in a CD or digital copy of their favorite music (pre-listened to by me). Their music would be background music for the class during work time. It seems like most, if not all, of my students love music. This may be a good motivator to help them stay on track behaviorally.

  19. I think that this is a fun tool! My students really like it to. Like Mrs. Esparza,I can see using it to check for understanding a concept instead of asked for a show of hands or a verbal answer. I can also see it as a tool to help track for completion of assignments for the class day. I put my agenda on the board daily when the students come into the room. So, there are several items to get done. I can use it as a tracking tool for particpation. I also have my students use online tools like Khan Academy, Apangea, and Mangahigh. I give them points for getting on any one of these site. With this tool, I can have them track their time and paritcipation and give them points accordingly. Then they know exactly where they are and where they stand.

  20. I had to think long and hard and play around with the demo class before I developed a focus for today's new tool. As a professional development coach I see me setting this up with a classroom management group or other PD group and using the tool to mark responses and behavior of the adults. Then let them process the finings and how would they deal with those behaviors in their classrooms. Then repeat the process once they are aware of what I am charting and see if their responses and behaviors improve and let them discuss the results.

  21. I saw this tool mentioned in someone's comment a few days ago and began checking it out. I like that you can tailor the awards. Sometime's I play review games with the class, and I can see this is as a great way to keep score :) I also like the idea of being able to randomly award students for asking good questions, giving good answers, showing kindness to others from wherever I am standing in the classroom.

  22. I was introduced to this tool a few months ago and have been using it in my classes ever since. I use Class Dojo in a few different ways.

    I use it to track any behaviors that parents are worried about. If a parent is curious how many times a student does not raise their hand or if a student has trouble staying in their seat, I use the dojo to track that student on those specific behaviors for about a week and let them know how things are going.

    More frequently I use Class Dojo as a reward system. The students will receive points for a desired behavior and lose points if they are choosing not to act appropriately. At the end of the week, the remaining points are totalled and the student is given Lion Dollars to shop for school supplies/little trinkets. Trinkents include anything from homework passes to headphones from the dollar store. My students have responded really well to the tool. They like examining their point tallies and looking at the Report Cards. We dicuss the information contained on their report cards and try to find ways to help with those behaviors. Many of my students do not realize that they are doing some of the things that they were being marked for. It really helps make them more self aware and pay attention to their surroundings. Class Dojo has also helped promote goal setting and friendly in class competitions to see who can improve the most.

  23. Daniel Pink clearly does not advocate extrinsic motivations in Drive although there is a list of learning theorists who are exploring the gamification of curriculum. This is why you were asked to think out of the box (a creative or right-minded application for a lefty tool--pardon the play on Pink's first book).

    Great questions to discuss!

  24. I heard about this at ICE conference this year and love it. I use it for the obvious reasons of tracking behavior. After reading posts I had not thought of using it for other items and this post got me thinking. I do a lot of project based learning and this would help keep track of this giving points for turning in parts of the project on time or early. I like the idea of using for team play gaming to keep score. I am taking my masters class and the current class is on student engagement. I totally feel this would be another way I could alert the kids as to who is being on task and engaged. I do a ton of small grouping and would like this to help keep track of what each group is doing and then letting the kids who are doing independent work how they are doing. Of course all of this would be easier with a handheld device such as IPAD, hope I win it to implement some of this! LOL I do say that it is a little bit of a pain to keep pulling up and down but a great parent communication tool. Everything is always about data and I think this would be great to track how they are doing on acuity standards that they would be low in or for teaching records of who did what on which standard. I also use a lot of dry erase board and am constantly trying to come up with ways to make sure they answer and are not just drawing. I like the post that mentioned for using for this reason. I also do Power Teaching Techniques and they get points for doing a good job. Love the visual that this would add instead of my smile faces on the board. Thanks to Dr. Blue for ringing in on the administrative side. I think that is a great way to get the staff more involved.

  25. First, I'm very impressed that someone from dojo was reading our posts and commented. It sounds like they are really open to making it work and wanting to make improvements/changes to meet teachers needs! WooHoo! :)
    I'm using Whole Brain Teaching Methods in my room and this seems like it would go along perfectly with our procedures. It's all about making things fun, rewarding and most of all motivating for the students. Afterall, students are just littlier versions of adults. If we dont' find things fun, rewarding and motivating we are not going to be reinforced to do these. I'm also currently studying to get my Applied Behavior Analyst Board Certification. I could really see this being a motivating operant for several of the clients that I currently work with. Many times its harder to find what will motivate a child-being able to individualize these more, sounds like just the thing for some of them! :)

  26. I would use this in Science. Teaching with FOSS Kits, you need to give scores for collaboration, participation and being on-task. With Class Dojo, you can monitor all three of these and have it already in digital form. This will make assigning participation grades much easier and more accurate than trying to remember at the end of a period, or seeing a mark on a clipboard and trying to remember what it was for. It will also provide great explanation to parents and a justification for grades based on participation and collaboration.

  27. I have tried to create my own forms to help monitor classroom behavior in the past, but always failed to follow through. I am excited to try to implement this as a positive behavioral management tool. I think the students would be very excited about this tool and like the "gaming" like aspect of it.

    I would like to implement this in lab time for my class. It is often very difficult to manage a class of 30+ during lab time. This could be a way to incorporate an postive lab grade rather than just deducting points for doing something wrong in lab.

    I love that this tool can reinforce positive behavior rather than negative.

  28. Thanks to Kalen Gallagher for commenting on our blog. I played with Class Dojo for awhile this evening. I agree with the people posting that this would be a great tool for PBL. I am with Matt J on grading. We assign many group projects, but every student receives grades on their own individual work. This tool might be very beneficial for group projects.

    I am still looking for a tool that will visually track student progress on a project. When we visited a school in Seymore, they used laminated posters in their rooms. The kids moved their post-it notes from poster to poster as they reached another checkpoint. I have four classes and 115 kids. It is difficult to do this in my classroom with only one available wall.

    I am wondering if Class Dojo could be manipulated to track this information. I could not only track progress, but student participation, behavior, etc. I don't know if this will work or not, but I am going to play around with it again this weekend.

  29. I am going to have to try this out with one of my classes where they cannot see the positive in what they do. I would love to be able to pot this even while I am using the Promethean board, but for now I would have to flip back and forth.
    Students have issues in working together, I could use this to track how students are working together and to give points based on their participation and collaboration with group members.
    I think this could be useful even when you have school wide assemblies. keeping track of students attendance and where they are.

  30. I posted a comment, but didn't receive credit for it so I am assuming that I didn't use the dojo in a nontraditional way.
    One of the objectives we have at the high school level is trying to increase school spirit. Since we are moving to a new building we are trying to really work on pride and ownership in the buidling. One of the ways we could use the dojo would be for homeroom spirit competitions. We could create a dojo for every homeroom and reward for school spirit and school pride. The homeroom with the most points at the end of the week could get a prize or award. I know we used to compete for a spirit stick when I was in school.

  31. Hopefully this thought is outside the box enough!! I could use this throughout the day not only for management reasons such as behaviors and participation, homework completion, and the negative counterparts, but with customizable behaviors, I could use it for many other reward systems connected to schoolwork. I was thinking that in reading, it could be used to track increased reading levels, completed book reports, math fact races/tables such as multiplication fact tests, Rocket Math levels, and many other things that would require keeping track of. Our school operates under 5 Core Values and has coupons given for following these values; this would be an easy way to keep up with them. I love that it can be updated anytime and anywhere via an iPhone or iPad!
    I think it could also be used for problem solving sessions, giving points for different methods used correctly or following established procedures when problem solving.

  32. Although it may be time consuming initially, this tool could be used as a tracker for targeted behaviors in an EIT situation or if the student was on an ISP and there were certain interventions in place it could be tracked from this tool and used to show if the intervention is working.

    Many times parents ask teachers to complete forms that ask about ADHD behaviors so that information can be given to the students doctor to enhance the treatment. This tool could be easily modified to list those behaviors and how often they occure