ISTE seems like it was a million years ago, along with a summer of dreaming that is a distant memory. We have completed a little over a week of school with the kids and a week of preplanning before that. As with most beginnings, a lot of the dreaming melds with a good dose of reality, and a teacher is forced to make some choices. My year has started with an unexpected change in grade level(s) I support as a special education teacher, increased enrollment, and a handful of new students with IEP’s that need to be adopted from out of state already. I find myself at that new beginning I fantasized about this summer with some unexpected twists that were not a part of that fantasy. Do I take the easy, familiar road or do I stick with my mission? Do I make those small steps towards more innovative teaching or use these twists as reasons that it can’t happen right now?
My tiny, first step is official. I used Classdojo today with my second grade math group. The children were beside themselves with excitement when they saw their “monsters” and earned points. This is my first step towards gamification for this math group. There are children that struggle with behavior, children that struggle with math, and children that struggle with both. I am a firm believer in tackling the behavior first, so Classdojo seemed like a no brainer.
I introduced our behavior plan by having the kids walk into a room that was a mess! I acted shocked and surprised about the monster that had come to school today and messed up our room! They were eager to help clean and we read a short book about the monster’s first day of school. The kids loved reading about the monster and were quick to point out that he didn’t know the rules. We used that as a springboard to talk about our listening rules. The students colored in a printable monster and labeled the parts of his body for listening behaviors.
The next day we reviewed our listening rules and added in a video about personal space to help our monster. We role played being out of our space, in somebody else’s space, asking somebody to move out of our space, and apologizing for being in another’s space. These were all things that I had observed being an issue in my little group of friends the first few days we were together.
This all led up to the big reveal of Classdojo. The kids were so excited to see their own personal “monster” that would learn from all of their good choices. The first three behaviors monitored were; good listener, taking turns talking, and stays in space. I showed them how they were all doing all of those things and gave their monster awards. They were in awe! We used the timer to practice for 5 minutes and see if we could earn awards. They all did! We did it again because they begged. They got all their awards again!
I am excited to use Classdojo to communicate with parents, motivate students, and streamline necessary data needed for IEP’s. Small steps lead to the next step. Behavior first, math tool coming up next! I will continue this journey no matter what comes my way. I will not talk about it, I will BE about it! Some days it is hard, but the kids are worth it every day!