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This app or that app? So many choices!

This post was written by Emily Dahm, a ClassDojo Thought Partner who tweets regularly at EDahmTeacher

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I’ve always been kind of a tech junkie. My M.O. used to be, “Try all the things!” This was fun at first, but quickly became a time suck. It was also stressful for my students, and not a great use of their time. I’m not saying it’s not okay to try new things, but for your students’ sake (and your own) try them purposefully, one at a time.

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Time to get up-to-speed with technology!

This post was written by Kelly Connolly-Hickey, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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When I started teaching at my high school twelve years ago, we had to fill in bubbles on forms to take attendance, complete progress reports, and complete report cards. Today, we have one integrated web-based system for such student records. Implementing technology previously meant incorporating a laser disk player or displaying a presentation on a small TV. Now, most classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards, or are even 1:1. Certainly technology has made teaching easier in some aspects.

Here are my favorite apps and sites that can enhance teaching:

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Get creative with formative assessments!

This post was written by Olivia S. Blazer, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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Formative assessment is a vigorous and engaging tradition that we as teachers should be committed to cultivating in every classroom. Why is it such an essential part of learning? It serves as an assessment tool for teachers, probing for understanding, and guiding decision-making about future instruction. Formative assessment creates a supportive environment in which the teachers and students learn and teach each other effectively, and instruction is tailor-made to fit each learner.  

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Send delightful voice notes to parents!

Teachers can now instantly send voice notes home to parents using ClassDojo Messenger! Voice notes keep parents in the loop even easier than before :) With just a tap (and hold) of a button, teachers send voice notes as a broadcast to all parents or as a private message to just one parent.

With Voice Notes, we’re excited that teachers can express empathy, passion, and excitement — all of which are difficult to do with text based messages. We believe that this will continue to help teachers save time while also building stronger teacher-parent relationships!

We are excited to have you try it out! Teachers can sign up to join the wait list here: http://www.classdojo.com/voicenotes

Learn more about ClassDojo Messenger here: http://www.classdojo.com/messenger

Students mirror teacher behavior — are you setting a good example?

This post was written by Melissa Myers, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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Years ago, I worked in a school where faculty members routinely brought laptops to meetings. Everyone would gather in desks facing the front of the room, screens up, fingers furiously typing, while the facilitator spoke.  At first, I was determined to sit near the front, maintain eye-contact with the facilitator, and participate meaningfully in discussion.  Eventually, though, I gave up. It became clear what my colleagues thought of our meetings: this time was better spent preparing lessons, checking email, or even comparing Fantasy Football stats.

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Can students control technology? Or does technology control students?

This post was written by Helena Li, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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I am from the generation when cell phones evolved from being primitively monochrome, with its most entertaining feature being an ever-elongating snake, to sudden touch screen brilliance, with a sassy voice-activated personal secretary. I have been an avid user at each of these stages, relishing every new invention, novel distraction, and complicated organization tool.

We have evolved at a rate that would frighten Darwin, growing an extra appendage that our thumbs are incessantly tapping on. If I have become so dependent on technology and the instant gratification of notifications and Likes, how addicted must our kids be, who were born into this world likely in the company of 4-inch lit screens?

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ADHD: friend or foe?

This post was written by Kelly Connolly-Hickey, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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One sentence sums up “John” perfectly: He’s a class all by himself.  

Possessing a great deal of energy, John is a bright, intense, young man with strong opinions, an off-beat humor, and obsessive interests. John can be polarizing, but he’s quick to stand up for others and what he believes is right. On a rare bad day, his silence puts a damper on the classroom atmosphere; usually, he is actively engaged and talkative. Though he frequently needs redirection, he usually leads class discussions. John is a powerful, positive presence in the class.

John is also one of the increasing number of students I have who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

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Get on the ball!

This post was written by Olivia S. Blazer, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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Gone are the days of lectures and students sitting silently and listening, completing assignments individually in a room so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Over the years, the culture of the classroom has changed dramatically. Students are interacting with technology and each other to enhance learning. There is less direct instruction and more small group instruction. Educators are less and less the “sage on the stage,” and have moved more into a facilitator’s role – the “guide on the side.” Teachers are using unorthodox tools and strategies to encourage and sharpen student focus.

One such tool is the stability ball. “Out-of-the-box” teachers are choosing to replace student chairs in their classrooms for stability balls in order to increase focus during lessons and aid retention through movement. Movement and learning are indelibly connected. Children learn best when they are moving, and what better way for them to be focused, learning, and moving than sitting on a stability ball?

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Go Team!

This post was written by Christine Flok, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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I use ClassDojo for both behavioral and academic monitoring. I have multiple teams of students within ClassDojo that I award points to. These teams include partnerships and table groups. Their partnerships originally stemmed from their reading partners, but quickly expanded to desk partners as well. If either partner was off-task, they would not earn the points. It became a way for the students to not only work in teams, but to work together to accomplish a common goal.

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Keeping the peace with restorative practices

This post was written by Christine Flok, a ClassDojo Thought Partner

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The first day of school always seems to sneak up on me. Students, parents and teachers alike are focused on getting new school supplies, getting themselves more organized, and planning other details for the school year. Most of these components are controllable. However, there seem to be a number of components that are completely out of our control… or are they?

When school starts, students experience a shift in environment, from home to the classroom. There is a strict schedule, new faces to get used to, academic work that needs to be done, and much more. It can come as a shock to students and they often act out in ways that are outside of their normal behaviors. We cannot control the strong feelings that students have, but we can control how they deal with those feelings.

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