JustineLavoie

ESL Teacher

CLASSDOJO-Think Positive!

DOjo

ClassDojo is a tool that works with any classroom, any device, and is free for teachers.

What is ClassDojo?
ClassDojo is an online positive reinforcement classroom management system that:

  • encourages students by giving positive feedback on the skills that matter most to the classroom;
  • engages parents easily by a simple communication with ClassDojo Reports and instant messaging;
  • saves valuable class time for teachers.

How does it work?
First, the teacher simply has to create an online classroom and enter the students’ names which will be associated to funny avatars that can later be personalized. Then, the teacher has to create goals or tasks and identify the group strengths that will later be rewarded with a pointing system. The teacher has to give or take away points. However, as my Practicum mentor explained, the best way to use ClassDojo is through positive reinforcement; by giving attention to students with good behaviors; by pushing negative leaders of the classroom to behave properly. Finally, students register in the online classroom in order to see their progress. The same applies to the parents wishing to see their children’s progress as well as to communicate with the teacher.

For an ESL teacher,
ClassDojo is amazing. Mostly because of the link with the parents and students, but also because it allows you to recognize the class’s strengths and weaknesses to later improve classroom activities. If you become really great and familiar with ClassDojo, you can become a DojoMaster, just like my Practicum mentor. Being a master gives you the opportunity of representing a region, province or country, of giving classes, of participating into new applications test drives, and even the opportunity of being invited all around the world for extra formation.

As an ESL teacher in the becoming,
ClassDojo is simple yet so useful. In my Practicum I, it helped me remember the students’ names and reward them for being on task and responsive. Although my Practicum only lasted ten days, I have had enough time to discover this great digital classroom management tool. My Practicum mentor used it in her classroom routine throughout the day, but mostly in the morning, when the students arrived. It is interesting because the students act as working bees. This online platform is used as a positive reinforcement tool that gives away points to students who hand in their homework on time, who are thorough in the different tasks they are assigned, or to students who simply show great progress and motivation.

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The main perks of ClassDojo, according to Susan P., are definitely the students’ noticeable behavior improvement and the strong connection that gets establised between the teacher, the parents and the students. And why? Simply because ClassDojo allows parents to create an account which will follow their kids’ online classroom. It also allows teachers to send direct communications to parents (thereby making sure that the message comes across).

For students,
ClassDojo is great because of the pride it gives them when they get a point for something they have done great. It also gives them the desire to be recognized for their good actions. They can find on the online platform the assignments the teacher gave them, they can hand stuff in, and they can see their progress.

For parents,
it is also great because they get to be involved in their kids’ learning. It creates great moments between parents-children because of the time they can take together to go back on the students’ week according to what the teacher wrote and sent. It is also great because it gives them an extra connection with the teacher.

There is an mobile application available to you that gives you the chance, as a teacher, to have your class with you, everywhere. For students, it gives the chance to consult and do assignments on their electronic devices.

Pros & Cons:
As illustrated on the ClassDojo Website, ClassDojo presents a series of perks such as:

  • let students track their own progress;
  • send reports to parents with one click;
  • track points with any Android or iOS device;
  • behavior management finally made positive;
  • see full classroom engagement in minutes;
  • get beautiful, hassle-free behavior reports;
  • it is free;
  • it is possible to take attendances;
  • the teacher-students-parents communication is just great.

However, ClassDojo also presents areas in need of improvement such as:

  • is not ideal for highschool grades;
  • is currently mostly only available in English;
  • the pointing system may appear unfaire to some students.

Reviews:
From a tech tester’s point of view, ClassDojo can easily be rated a 8 out of 10 because of all its advantages.
From a teacher’s point of view, ClassDojo is simple to use and students and their parents respond well to it.
From a parent’s point of view, ClassDojo is valued because it encourages the social and emotional learning.
Although no actual reviews from students have been published, I can say, from my Practicum observations, that while some students find the point attribution inconsistent, others love ClassDojo.

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Why don’t you just give it a try?

Although I am not a Mojo Master YET, I think that this positive reinforcement in teaching/learning is modern and currently really effective. I believe that ClassDojo has great potential and future because of the way it reflects the students’ progress.

Justine Lavoie.

INTEGRATION OF AN EDUCATIONAL CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM INTO TEACHING PRACTICES-Why Not!

technology2

Is the integration of educational content management systems into teaching a good thing?

Nowadays, in the 21st century, technology, online tools, and electronic devices are a must have in pretty much anything. Indeed, for education, work or entertainment, we almost all have to admit that we use technology at least once a day. My generation, generation Y, was born with technology, we were raised with it, and we now deal and work with it. But the question remain, is this a good thing? Is it just a trend? I believe it isn’t. I believe we now need it.

But first, what are educational content management systems?
According to Margaret Rouse, educational content management systems (CMSs) are “software applications or web-based technologies used to plan, implement, and asses a specific learning process.” They often come in the form of a platform, and one of the best examples of these is the Laval University portal: the ENA (environnement numérique d’apprentissage), which welcomes more than 40,000 students a year.

Why do we need them?
W
ell, simply because of the actuality it brings. With the current 2015 beat, teachers need something to get students aboard their own learning journeys.

For an ESL teacher,
T
he integration of an educational content management system is something useful and actual. In fact, ESL teachers are currently teaching generation Y, the generation that grew up with technology, therefore, its use is practically mandatory in order to have their full interest. Moreover, this modern current is time and energy saving and is offered through a thousand of possibilities.

As an ESL teacher in the becoming,
I
think that the integration of an educational content management system is a great thing mostly because of the simplicity and time-saving aspects, but also because of the possibility of having busy parents follow up in an easy way (if the chosen educational CMS offers this possibility). Also, referring forward in my future career, I think that it would have students engaged in their own learning because, depending on the system chosen, they are able see their progress and assignments and they can communicate easily with their teacher.

For students,
T
he integration of an educational content management system is useful because they can do and submit various assignments online, thus, they are able to work from home easily and do not need to go to school to hand something in. Also, it is nice because of the progress reflection it gives, as well as the easy one-click-away communication with a ressource person.

Examples,
Various educational content management systems are currently available for teachers. Some of them are free, while some of them are not, but generally, if not free, they are not that expensive. In my personal opinion, here are the best educational CMSs:

Mobile apps,
G
enerally, the educational content management systems are available through mobile applications that can be ran on various electronic devices such as iOS devices and tablets. However, if they are not available on electronic devices as mobile apps, they can easily be used through their search engines or on a computer.

Reviews:
A
ccording to the University of Washington, the integration of an educational content management system and technology “can deepen student learning by supporting instructional objectives.”

Now, here is an educational content management system that I think is just great, clear, and simple.

Lore_logo_420px

Lore is a new venue for education that allows you to explore.

What is Lore?
L
ore is a free platform for learning where

  • one can freely teach and learn;
  • one can join a community of other passionate people;
  • one can push the future of education;
  • one can invent new educational ways;
  • one can refresh the best of the past;
  • one can manage courses and engage students.

How does it work?
First, one, an instructor, has to create an account. Then, the instructor needs to create a course. This second step takes approximately three minutes. After that, the instructor has to add up information to his course and syllabus, as well as to activate the discussion, the calendar and the library. Once this is done, the instructor is welcomed to invite his students, co-instructors and TAs to the course. Finally, the instructor may create and send assignments to his students and communicate with them through the discussion or emails.

For an ESL teacher,
think that Lore is amazing if used with higher school levels. Indeed, I think it requires more preparation and follow up if used with lower levels, and that, with them, it would be a waste of time and energy. For them, I would recommand ClassDojo (see my next article).

As an ESL teacher in the becoming,
I
find that Lore is a little too much for elementary and secondary levels. It would be a better tool to use with CEGEP or university levels where students need to be more engaged and have more assignments to submit, and where teachers have less “handholding” to do with their students. I like the whole idea, concept and design behind Lore, but wishing to pursue a career as an ESL teacher in the lower levels, I do not forsee myself using it.

For students,
L
ore is a significant tool for their learning. It is easy for them to use, and it contains all the information they need. It is great because they can communicate with their teacher, as well as to see the things they were assign, while having the possibility to submit them online. Lore makes a nice and actual link with the use of technology in teaching, and I believe that it has students involved because of its clarity and interactive whole interface.

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For parents,
L
ore is not really useful because they do not have (and to my opinion, should not have) the opportunity to log in their children’s platform. Although I think that it is good for parents to have a follow up on their child’s progression, I believe that such use of an educational content management system should be for students and their teacher, in order to have them maintain a connection together.

Pros & cons:
As illustrated on the Lore Website, Lore presents a series of perks such as:

  • having a clean and fast user interface;
  • being clear because of the Google+-like appearance;
  • having various useful features such as a calendar, a syllabus, a gradebook, and a resources section;
  • offering the possibility to post various types of content such as:
    -posts;
    -questions;
    -audios;
    -videos;
    -photos;
    -links.

However, Lore also presents areas in need of improvement such as:

  • it is sometimes hard to find the link to send to students in order to share a course with them;
  • it is confusing to invite students or other instructors because you cannot see the list you have invited so far;
  • it is a little “buggy”; sometimes instructions will be repeated twice even if they were already done.

Reviews:
A
ccording to two different reviews (The Daily Princetonian and the Broadside), Lore is the new Blackboard.
However, because Lore is pretty recent (it used to be Coursekit), not many reviews were issued.

lore1

Why don’t you just give it a try?

Although I overall like Lore, I cannot really see myself using it in my next Practicums or in my career as an ESL teacher. Times and ideas have yet to change but for now, I do not see the pertinence in relation to my actual way of teaching.

Justine Lavoie.