Children in upper Key Stage Two may well be too cool for school at times, but points, certificates and rewarding of good behaviour is just as important to them as clear boundaries and good teaching. Staying on top of systems like this can really help your class to feel secure and help to build respect and class cohesion. I have found that a new free web service Class Dojo , can be very valuable as an intuitive and innovative tool for assisting me in behaviour management.
In a previous role I worked with a team of teachers to write a rewards and sanctions policy for our large primary school. It was a pivotal time as the school had just amalgamated and we needed to establish rules and boundaries. On the whole the system which involved children’s blu tacked names moving up or down behaviour steps seemed to work. They liked the visuals prompt and teachers liked knowing where they and the children stood.
Alongside this many of us also awarded table or group points for good behaviour or effort in academic work. My Year 4 class competed to get points and would make great efforts to prove why they needed a small red sticker against their name or table group.
Fast forward a few years and in my class of Year 6 children our school has an excellent and very effective behaviour and rewards policy. I have though, augmented this with a way of keeping track of points for each individual, or rather I have registered my class with Class dojo. It has surprised me just how much my class have craved and nagged about points on this system. For me as a busy teacher Dojo allows me to easily keep track of who has gained which points and why, as every time you award appoint you need to provide a reason. This is true if you deduct a point too. The suggested reasons are generic and you can always customise these for your class or school.
The interface for Dojo is very current with each child being represented by an avatar, which makes a change from just their name on a large piece of sugar paper. My class liked the avatars though they did ask if they could change or customise theirs.
The company behind Dojo do allow you to get more avatars, but you need to tell more people about the site via twitter or other network before you can gain access to these extra graphics. I also like the fact that I can view my class as a whole and see who has what. Often this can act as a prompt to see who I need to look out for and catch demonstrating great behaviour or effort.
It doesn’t stop there, not only can you record points with associated reasons for increases or deduction. You can also get a break down of each pupil and what their points actually mean. I imagine this would prove invaluable at parent’s evening , when you can bring up each child on-screen and discuss the behaviour breakdown. There is the facility to email report cards of behaviour but I think I’d prefer some sort of friendly export that I could use in our school report format and I am not sure many schools would hold the email addresses of each parent just yet anyway.
Currently we update points by from the class laptop, which also controls the whiteboard and just about everything else. But if you are moving around the class or out on a trip this could be tricky to say the least! Thankfully you can access the site from a mobile device, though I have yet to get this to work from an iPod touch, perhaps it is a school broadband issue.
For the busy teacher who wants to encourage and reward positive behaviour and keep track of his or her class, then I think this free site is a very valuable addition to existing policies and approaches.
As a final point you will notice that the behaviour for each child and each class can be displayed very nicely as a pie chart, which gives a great context for data handling.