PBIS and ClassDojo go together like PB and J :)

Does your school use PBIS to build positive behavior and school wide community? PBIS has made a meaningful impact on my classroom and school, and ClassDojo has been a major tool to that success! Whether you’re a PBIS newbie or a veteran implementor, integrating ClassDojo into your school-wide PBIS will be a management miracle that will make you smile. Read below and check out the helpdesk for information on best practices for marrying PBIS and ClassDojo in your school.

What are best practices for using ClassDojo as a teacher in a PBIS school?

  • ClassDojo is the perfect tool to supplement implementation of SWPBIS (School Wide PBIS). In most schools, PBIS expectations are boiled down to a small quantity (typically around 3) of foundational expectations and then applied to all areas of school and aspects of students’ daily routines. Since ClassDojo gives teachers the freedom to assign specific titles to both positive and negative behaviors for points given or taken away, you may customize your Dojo points to match the specifics of your school’s PBIS plan.
  • In my opinion, impactful best practices of using ClassDojo and PBIS in general include: explicit expectations, consistency, communication, and praise/reward (even if it’s just through Dojo points) to reinforce positive behavior.
  • Perhaps most importantly, one must monitor, evaluate, and respond to the incredibly useful and automatically generated DATA that Dojo provides for each student. Praise and prevention rewarded with a point system is great, but not truly effective if not student driven.  Utilize the data to help you make adjustments to your PBIS plan, implementation strategies, and classroom practices using ClassDojo as a tool.
  • The possibilities are endless!  My recommendation is to make it work for you by incorporating your PBIS expectations in a way that meets the needs of you, your students, their parents, and your school-wide plan.
  • A few examples of points/categories/classes information could be:
  • To keep things super simple, you could create only PBIS-specific categories for behavioral points titles. For example, if your school focuses on safety, respect, and responsibility as three primary behavior goals for all aspects of student life, then you could have only those three titles listed for your points.  You could leave the points system as simple as that, or if you wanted to, you could add notes to student reports if you feel the need to specify how/when/where they earned a point in that category.
  • Each teacher could create his/her own general behavior titles based loosely on the language and categories of your PBIS plan. For example, one could add be safe, respectful, and responsible to their points menu as three positive behaviors if those were the foundational categories of PBIS for their school.  Additionally, the teacher could then add other classroom-specific behavior titles of his/her choice to supplement the core PBIS points categories (i.e.- clean desks, genius thought, creativity, etc.).
  • If you want more expansive and specific data, you could create a “class” for each category of your PBIS plan.  For example, you could have one class for each setting (hallway, classroom, assemblies, specials classes, etc.) with specific behaviors mapped out in your PBIS plan listed as behavior titles within each of those settings categories (Hallway: Safe walking feet, quiet mouths, hands to self).  Another option is to have “classes” for each major category of behavior (i.e.- be safe, respectful, responsible), with specific behaviors for each setting listed within those categories (safety indicators for hallway, assemblies, classrooms, etc. all listed).

Convinced that ClassDojo will be your PBIS best friend?  If so, run on over to the ClassDojo resources page to spread the news to colleagues, print decorations, and download informative handouts, presentations and more. With these resources, kicking off ClassDojo use, sharing this great resource, and connecting with parents will be a snap that will ultimately benefit your PBIS!

See PBIS in action in my classroom!  Check out my class website page, Rules of the Road, to learn more about PBIS, see it implemented with my students, and read up on tools I use to achieve PBIS success.

ClassDojo High School: Getting Started

When I was in kindergarten, my parents went to meet with Ms. Shanebourn and brought home what I would later call a report-card. In reality, it was like the check-list you fill in at a sushi-bar: plays well with others, cleans up after snack, spicy-tuna rising sun firecracker roll.

In middle school, the list was shorter, and letter grades appeared, but there were also areas for additional remarks. That’s where I learned that I am “funny” and “a pleasure in class.”

In high school, my grade was a letter with a few electronic tics next to pre-fabbed comments. There, no news was good news.

In college, just letters. Most were good. A few bummed me out. (Darn you, Stats!)

In short, from this trend, we learn that the older you get, the less “the system” cares about helping you to learn through providing thoughtful mentoring on your growth areas, and the more you are required to guess, assess, or maybe ask why you got a B and what you can do next semester to raise it.

ClassDojo, at the High School Level, can help you provide thoughtful, meaningful assessment on both “academic” and “character skills” which can lead to meaningful conversation, feedback, and growth. (I put those words in quote because while it’s useful to employ those terms to describe the range, it may be counterproductive to think of those categories as discrete or mutually exclusive).

Below, I’ve compiled four areas for using ClassDojo to provide meaningful feedback and a few strategies for using the data in meaningful ways. Mix and match, experiment, and let us know how it works for you!

ClassDojo Category 1: Student Ethic Modifier

How do you give a grade – or reward – or penalize a student for:

1. Contributing to discussion or disrupting discussion?

2. Showing up late vs. showing up on time?

3. Surrepticiously checking facebook during group work time?

4. Showing up for an appointment on time vs. not showing up?

5. Responding to emails promptly vs. ignoring them?

6. Coming to see you for problem-solving after a D- on a test vs. allowing problems to go unaddressed.

7. Helping students struggling with their work – or their technology – or not?

8. Talking out of turn, falling out of chairs, throwing things, leaving messes… cheering up a sad classmate, asking permission to assist a sick student, cleaning up after others…

It goes on and on.

Do you give a “Class Participation Grade?” If so, do you punish negative behaviors but “neutral” behaviors get nothing? Are they rewarded? Is a 100% class participation grade exemplary or normal? How do you weigh the relative merit of a student who raises his hand before speaking when also, he is late for class. Does he earn a B+? A-? C?

The Student Ethic Modifier is, on the one hand, the place in your gradebook where you assess everything that isn’t a quiz, test, or project. Some teachers call this a “class participation grade,” but for me, it’s at once more broad (covering not only how the student contributes to discussion or labs, but also things like correct computer use) and also more specific, covering things like whether a student deals with crises as they arise or lets them slide by until you chase him down in the hallway: aka the Cafeteria Intervention.

The Student Ethic Modifier covers some of the most important learning and growth goals; unfortunately, without gathering actual data, we rely on spotty recollection and anecdotal evidence.

How do you record this data and share this data?


Step 1: At the beginning of the year, spend a class period talking about the Student Ethic Modifier. Cover how it:

1. Fosters a serious, constructive learning environment

2. Brings students’ attention to behavior patterns that can make them more or less effective in other classes, in jobs, and even in relationships.

3. Can ensure that the learning done in class sticks – and makes class worth their while.

Step 2: Present ClassDojo and the particular badges you will be assessing. In discussion or as homework, as students to review the list. What do they have questions or concerns about? What should be added?

Step 3: Present your ClassDojo Workflow.

  • Will you have the screen projected on the board for all to see?

My suggestion: at the high school level, and certainly in your first year, don’t project it. But offer that any student who wants to know what you’ve been recording about him/her can approach you after class or at your desk.

  • Will your tablet/smartphone ding or buzz when a student earns a badge, providing in-the-moment feedback?

My suggestion: for the first year, set all sounds to “off” while you get the hang of it. Then, experiment with it.

  • Will you hand out green chips for students in-the-moment which they bring to you after class to earn their badges, or will you commit to keeping on top of the badges on the spot?

My suggestion: keep ClassDojo on a smartphone for peripatetic feedback, and a tablet near your workstation for feedback during quiet worktime. If you can manage this, you may not need to hand out chips, especially at the high school level. That said, the extra visual, tactile feedback of a green chip may reinforce the behavior more effectively than a sound, and this technique might work well for certain students.

  • Will you provide them with the access code – and their families with the access code?

My suggestion: communicate with parents about the tool and your goals, field questions and concerns, but do not provide access in the first year, until you get the hang of it.

  • Will each red badge lower their grade and each green badge raise it?

My suggestion: reassure students that in almost every case, small mistakes that don’t reappear will have no effect on the Student Ethic Modifier. Trends (I usually call that three or more) will have an effect. Talk with students about what you expect of them if you inform them that they have been trending in a problematic way. For example, after 3 missed homeworks (yes, I count homework under Student Ethic), they are required to send an email to their advisor, apprising them of the situation. You and the advisor can then decide what the next course of action should be.

All this said, there is no “correct” or “incorrect” way to use ClassDojo. Make a decision you can live with and stick to it for a semester. Then reevaluate. This, by the way, is a great topic to discuss with your Mentor.

Step 4: At the end of the quarter and semester, when you sit down to grade and write progress reports or narratives, review the ClassDojo Student Ethic data, especially focusing on trends, shifts, and anecdotes noteworthy enough that, well, you took a note.

By the way, if you’re curious to learn more about the Student Ethic Modifier and would like to read more in depth about what adopting a Student Ethic Modifier can do for your class, check out the blog, here.

How to engage the disengaged! …with ClassDojo :)

I had a difficult class of 11 year olds who liked to make a lot of noise, start fights and avoid work. Plain vanilla praise was often a double-edged sword because of their behavioral issues and problems with authority. I turned to ClassDojo to help with classroom management. It turned out that the least engaged children in that class were also the ones most motivated by ClassDojo and it improved behavior during lessons to a dramatic degree.

Here are some top tips for integrating ClassDojo in a middle school classroom:

1) Put the class page up on the interactive whiteboard at the start of the lesson. Give feedback points to students who are ready to start!

2) While students are working, pull up the ClassDojo and give feedback to students who are displaying character traits you’re class is focusing on (This might mean you awarding feedback points to ALL students).

3) Use ClassDojo while changing from one activity to another, or “transitioning”. If students see that getting down to business quickly is appreciated, time wasting is cut dramatically.

4) Use the random feature to select students to answer questions. I like to ask the question first and then push the random button, this gives students time to think about their answer.

5) Customize behaviors based on which character strengths you are focusing on as a class. You’ll be surprised which of your students truly rise to the occasion!



ADHD: friend or foe?

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.

Many students with ADHD have accommodations with 504 or IEP plans; others, like John, do not. That’s why it’s so important that teachers not only comply with 504/IEPs but also be aware of how to help students with ADHD be successful in a classroom setting.

Here are some suggestions for supporting students with ADHD.

  1. Knowledge is Power: It’s important to educate ourselves about what ADHD is and how it affects each individual student. Understanding ADHD helps me remain patient when students exhibit some of the associated behaviors, such as blurting out comments, being distracted, forgetting important items, and being very defensive. I know that their behavior isn’t intentional (usually) and focus on helping them rather than correcting them. Some excellent resources for teachers who would like to learn more about ADHD include adhdaware, humansnotrobots, and Idonline.
  2. Emphasize organization: I always pick up plastic file folders when I see them in the dollar section at Target. Most of my students, with ADHD in particular, love these folders for organizing work. I invite my students to attend tutorials and I help them periodically organize their notebooks, folders, and determine what they can throw away and what they can file. I also them time in the beginning of class to write down the work due for the week.
  3. Redirect and channel that energy: Often students with ADHD have a great deal of energy, which we can help them channel into positive activities.  One student, who frequently finishes his work early, becomes an adept peer tutor, assisting others with their work. Another student is an excellent helper, distributing handouts and running small errands. A third student likes to lead group work. Here are some excellent tips for how to redirect and channel excessive energy from intervention central.
  4. Make accommodations: Though 504 and IEP plans dictate any modifications students are entitled to, there are many students who do not have these plans, but benefit from some simple accommodations. I encourage them to privately share with me any conditions they may have and what I can do to make them more comfortable and productive. For example, I provide copies of class notes to students with ADHD (as long as they are engaged and take their own notes as well). They appreciate having a printed copy, as many of them have poor handwriting and difficulty keeping up with taking notes. Also, I always seat students with ADHD in the front of the room so that it’s easier for them to stay on task. Here are some helpful suggestions regarding accommodations from attitude mag.
  5. Embrace differences: On the first day of school, I tell my students that I have ADHD and explain how it affects me as a teacher. I may talk too quickly or jump from topic to topic. I ask for them to let me know and help me stay on track. But I also explain that people with ADHD often have gifts or a “superpower”, from speed reading to acting ability.

Encourage students to discover and cultivate their gifts! It’s amazing to see how confident students with ADHD become when they learn to embrace who they are and emphasize their positive attributes. Here is a great article about the benefits of ADHD from healthline.

At a parent/teacher conference, I met John’s mom. She thanked me, saying that her son had told her that he had finally accepted his ADHD and liked himself. She had tears in her eyes, and so did I.

Motivation + monitoring + movement = Management miracle!

Isn’t it funny how some days you feel like your students are perfect angels and then all of the sudden everything seems to fall apart? A million factors contribute to the classroom atmosphere — from a full moon to spring break starting the following day. It is one of the most important elements of a successful learning environment.

I have found that combining motivation, constant monitoring, and time for movement breaks can result in a managed classroom that can stand up to pretty much anything… even the last week of school! ClassDojo has been my motivational and monitoring savior for the past several years. Several elements of ClassDojo worked wonders to motivate and monitor my students:

1. Motivation: Motivating students can be frustrating, but somehow ClassDojo found the perfect way to instantly encourage students with both impactful feedback and points. Engaging students with ClassDojo was largely due to these factors:

  • SOUND EFFECTS: My students squeal with excitement every time they hear the delightful “ding”, resulting when someone receives a positive behavior point. I love that something so simple has such an effect on my students.
  • AVATARS: Could the ClassDojo monsters get any cuter? Students love choosing their avatars. You can also create your own for a customized effect. My colleague sets point goals for her students (10, 20, 50, etc) and when they reach their goal they get to change their avatars. You should see the excitement over such a simple reward.
  • CLASSROOM ECONOMY: In our class, we use ClassDojo as a component of our larger classroom economy system. Students earn (or lose) Dojo points, which are equivalent to “dollars”. They receive paychecks for total points/dollars monthly or bimonthly. Students can cash them in and use them to purchase items at our classroom store.  

2. Manage and monitor: When I began teaching, tracking and communicating student behavior was laborious, time consuming, and often far from accurate. Then came ClassDojo! ClassDojo has such an amazing, built-in data management and monitoring system. In my opinion, this is perhaps the best aspect of ClassDojo.

  • PARENT PORTAL: With easy parent sign-up, ClassDojo becomes an automatic and effortless parent portal into student behavior within the classroom. Parents can see in real-time how their students are doing, so that nothing is a surprise at parent-teacher night! Also, teachers can instantly message them exciting moments from school or to just clarify a Dojo point that was given.
  • TEACHER TRACKING: Best of all, I have instant and accurate access to student behavior data for any period of time I wish to choose. Thanks to ClassDojo this extremely important portion of our job is made so simple!
  • STUDENT SUCCESS: It is quite powerful to see students check their points and view their reports. The ownership they feel over monitoring their own personal progress and achieving personal behavior goals is empowering, impressive, and effective.

3. Make Time for Movement: No matter how great your classroom management system is, students need time to give their brains a break and get in some movement. Try some yoga or dance moves in your classroom!

I hope these tips come in handy for you this school year!

Inside, outside, anywhere: ClassDojo works throughout the day!

One of the best parts about having a mobile tool to encourage positive behaviors (or a behavioral management system as many teachers call it!) is that I don’t have to carry post-it notes around 24/7. I can use my phone or iPad to use ClassDojo at recess or in the hallways on the way to PE or in the library. To track behavior during these different activities I have created a variety of “classes”, which include reading, writing, math, science, PE, library, music, recess, and hallway.

Each of these classes have a unique set of behaviors. For example, positive PE behaviors include working hard, helping a teammate, playing safely, listening to directions, and trying your best. Positive music behaviors include trying your best, following along in the song, listening to instructions, and working together. Hallway behaviors include keeping your hands to yourself, walking quietly, and staying in line. Behaviors vary for each class, however, behavioral norms stay consistent.

Students will quickly learn what is expected of them during each activity. Although you will need to take time to go over the different expectations for each activity at the beginning of the year, you will save so much time in the long run. Time spent typically correcting behaviors is now spent learning curriculum! The better your students understand what is expected of them during each activity, the more likely they are to develop positive behaviors.

Grit? Risk taking? What behaviors should you encourage in your classroom?

If you use ClassDojo with your students, you’ve probably noticed that most of the behaviors you want to encourage or discourage are already embedded in the program, but did you know you can add your own? How do you decide which behaviors to add? It helps to think about what kind of classroom culture you want to foster. I felt really strongly about encouraging risk-taking in my class, so I added “taking a risk” to the positive behavior options. If you decide to do something like this, make sure you have a discussion with your students about what each of these behaviors looks like and why they are important.

It’s easy to say you want students to exhibit grit and perseverance, but what exactly do those look like? The first criteria for adding a behavior to ClassDojo is measurability. When I decided to add “risk taking” to my list, we had several discussions about what this would look like with my class. The general consensus was that students should receive a point for risk taking if they stuck their neck out, and stepped out of their comfort zone for the sake of learning. This means if someone was called on and was unsure of what to say, if they said something in an attempt to participate rather than exercising their right to pass, they earned a point. This approach opened up a larger dialogue about the importance of taking a risk and not being afraid to fail. It became a part of our classroom culture and we talked about it every day. These are the types of things you should add to your behaviors list to help develop these traits in your students.

You may be tempted to add every desirable human quality imaginable, but I recommend starting slow. Keep it simple. Add one at a time and use it consistently. If you notice you are never using a particular behavior, remove it. The great thing about this feature is that you can adapt it to each individual class. Last year I had a particularly disruptive class, so I put interrupting on my negative point list. In general, I like to use positive encouragement whenever possible, but in moderation, correctional type of feedback is also very useful.



Introducing: ClassDojo Messenger

We’re delighted to share a new, free iOS and Android app that is the easiest way to instant message with parents: ClassDojo Messenger.

With the new ClassDojo Messenger app, you can:

  • Easily engage parents by instantly sending updates home
  • Privately message 1-on-1 with a parent, or Broadcast to an entire class of parents at once!
  • Share photos of wonderful moments from the classroom 🙂
  • Know who’s read your messages with ‘Read receipts’

What’s more, it’s private for everyone: you never share personal contact details.

Learn more about this great app and get it today for the new school year!

We hope you love ClassDojo Messenger 🙂

The power of positive reinforcement

It was report card time and I wanted to share with my families how grades were determined in the behavior section. My behavior grades were based on ClassDojo. One parent mentioned that I seemed to use the negative behavior feature far more than the positive. I went back to my reports and noticed this parent was correct. I had far more negative activity than positive. My focus was off and I needed to find a way to use ClassDojo in a more positive manner.

After a long dialogue with my class, we came to the idea of “First to…”. We turned ClassDojo into a reward game. We would clear all points and then set a goal for how long it would take for all students to earn 10 points. If it took 10 days to earn ten points, we would clear points and set a new goal: 8 days to earn 10 points!

This system allowed students the opportunity to reflect on their behavior. They could ask questions like, “How was my day? What might be some things I did today to earn a Dojo point? What might be some things I can do today to earn a Dojo point?”

We also acknowledged students that made it to a certain number in a given amount of time. For example, students competed to be the first to make it to twenty-five points in a month. When student’s reached 25 points, we celebrated as a class and acknowledged students at the end of the month.

While it was still necessary to give negative points at times, the positive points began to outweigh the negative. The shifted use of ClassDojo motivated my students and instilled reflection within their learning day. Moreover, parents were much more excited about their child’s progress and ultimately more supportive of me as a teacher!

Communicating with parents in the digital world

Gone are the days when you only had access to parents via one-way monthly newsletters or twice-a-year parent teacher conferences. Thanks to technology you can easily keep in touch with your students’ parents all year-round.

Here are some tips to get your communicating with parents in the digital world:

Keep a Class Blog

Rather than sending home a monthly or weekly newsletter to parents that might never make it out of the bottom of your students’ backpacks, try starting a class blog. Set a schedule for posting and share that schedule with parents. Allow moderated comments on the posts to get parents involved with the classroom.

Have your students do most of the blogging. Assign one student a week to be the class chronicler. Have that student take photos, record interviews with other students, and summarize what the class learned. Weebly is an easy platform for students of all ages to use.

Get your class blog linked to your school’s homepage to show all the exciting work your class is doing!

Use a Messaging Service

Sending individual texts or emails to parents is time consuming and not very private. Let a messaging service, such as ClassDojo Messaging, do all the work for you. Once students and parents opt into the system, it allows you to easily send text message blasts to update all parents at once, or you can privately message them to keep them up-to-date on their child’s progress. You don’t see their phone numbers and they don’t see yours. This is a great option for families who may not have home Internet but do have smartphones.

Set Up a Class Social Media Account

If parents don’t want to have their phones buzzing all the time, consider starting a class Twitter account or Facebook page. You can use the page to share updates, photos, and links to student work. If your students are under 13, be sure to set the account to private. To view the page, all parents will need to have Twitter or Facebook accounts (many of them probably already do). Before setting up any class social media accounts, review your school’s Privacy Policy and check with administrators.

Make Parents Feel Welcome

Let parents know that your classroom is a welcome space for them. Consider inviting parents to your classroom on days when students are giving presentations or sharing projects. Working parents can use Skype or Google Hangouts to visit virtually.