Kindergarten Teacher

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Using Class Dojo for Work Management

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Many teachers have been using Class Dojo as a behavior management system. If you are familiar with me you know that I avoid using these systems or any kind of reward in my classroom (read here.) However, I have been trying to find a system to allow my students to keep track of their completed work each week that would also give parents access to this information. Teaching management skills as well as time management are very important to me, even in Kindergarten. Until this week my class used a paper printout of all the jobs and colored in a box each time they filed away a job (yes, we use files)  This system has worked really well except we are wasting paper each week and there is no easy way for parents to see how much work they are completing. Enter Class Dojo. What I did was take all the behaviors they have built into the system and changed them to the names of all of our literacy centers. As the kids finished work they would pick the correct center and give themselves a point for that job. Since this was our first week I kept the iPad at my teacher table and assisted as they added their points each time. My hope is that after two weeks of working with them I can set up a computer or an iPad in the room specifically for Class Dojo and let the kids do this independently. I will update this post if that does not work out for some reason but I think it will after watching the kids use the system this week. I have pictures below to show some of the process of using the app this way.

One surprise benefit I realized is this app will give me important data about my centers. I can easily see what stations are being visited most frequently or first in the week (meaning favorite.) I can also look at each student and see what centers they are doing most often, or the ones they are avoiding each week. Since I give my class complete control over what centers they want to work on this data could really benefit me in planning stations.

Positives: Free!, easy to use as teacher, easy for kids to use, parent sign up is simple, web and app based, data for centers

Negatives: Cant add kids pictures instead of avatars (update below), can’t customize behavior icons (job icons), kids can see how many stations other kids have finished (wish there was an option to not display total) *please note these are negatives mainly because I am using the app for a different way than it was intended.

*Update: They have added a new feature this week  to allow you to customize the avatars with your own images (explained here)

This is what is displayed on the iPad for the kids to enter their points. When they tap on their avatar a menu pops up with all the center choices for my room. As noted above I don’t like that they can see the points for their friends.

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The image below is a sample image of an individual child’s progress during the week. This is what parents can see. The app shows what jobs they finish each day as well as the time those jobs are entered. The time stamp isn’t crucial to me at this point but I can see where it could be helpful given individual kids. Are they working better in the morning vs afternoon, etc. I should also note there is a pie chart above this info that shows how many of their points are positive/negative. I told the parents to ignore that part of the app and focus only on the completed centers.

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The image below is from the Dojo account on the web. I am able to see what parents have connected their account and even enter a parents email to encourage them to join. My understanding is the app will send parents a weekly update which is nice in case they forget to check. Parents can login online or use the free app to keep up with the progress in real-time.

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So how do parents sign up? Once you enter the students names into Class Dojo you can then download a pdf with the access codes for the parents. For my kindergarten class I did not worry about the student account. I just asked parents to join.

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Overall I was very impressed with the simplicity of getting my class setup and the design of the app and website. Hopefully they will consider others that might want to use the app this way and give more options that would make it more successful for that use.

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Dramatic Play: Bakery and Ice Cream Shop

Check out the amazing dramatic play center the parents at my school created! I can not claim any part of this but wanted to share the great idea. photo

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The image below shows the space. It is located in the hallway. We have four of these “pods” in our hallway that we use for our social centers (science, art, home living and blocks.) All the classes take turns rotating through these centers each day.

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Presentation: Sharing Learning with Tech

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The video below is from a webinar with Region 10 where I discuss sharing learning with technology. This is one topic in a series of hangouts I will be doing with Region 10. You can see the full schedule here and register for FREE (required for CPE credit.) I hope you enjoy the presentation and will check out the topics on the schedule.
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Presentation slides here and links mentioned in the presentation below…

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9 Fun Activities for Spring Break

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(repost from last year)

My 17 things to do during winter break post was fairly popular so I decided to make a list for spring break also. The kids stay home for nine days (including the weekends) so here is a list of 9 things to do during the break…

1. Take pictures all week and create a spring break book to share with the class. You can print the pictures and make a paper book or use a computer or iPad to make the story. Here are great apps for storytelling if you want to make a digital copy.

2. Make a picture graph of food sorted by color. Look through magazines, find pictures online or color your own. After you finish the graph try one new food from each color group. (challenge: make a pie graph also)

3. Create a new animal. Use your imagination or combine features of your favorite animals. Draw this new animal in its habitat and write three interesting facts about the new animal. This website might help!

4. Have a picnic with your family. If possible find a fun park to visit but even a picnic in the backyard will work.

5. Research about another country. It can be a country important to your family or even a place you want to visit. Learn about their clothes, shelter, food, symbols, flag, and animals that live there.

6. Go fishing… or at least feed the fish and explore a pond, creek or lake.

7. Learn something new like… ride a bike, tie shoes, fold laundry, cook a meal, how to sew, how to draw or build something. Dont give up!

8. Plant something! Start a garden or even just a small pot of flowers and estimate how long until they start growing.

9. Record the temperature every hour for one day. You can look online or use a thermometer. How will you record the data? How did the temperature change during the day? Why did it change? This app is great for recording the weather.

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Start Believing In Parents Like You Believe In Their Kids

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I am challenging everyone to stop saying that parents don’t value education or that parents don’t care. Stop saying it for any reason! I expect a few people will try to provide examples of situations that prove a certain set of parents don’t care but I won’t listen. Yes, there are bad people out there and situations that make it very difficult to “believe” but what I am asking is for all teachers to ignore that and carry on as if all parents do care. Because I think 99.9999% of parents do value education, they just might not show it in ways that are typical or be able to show it in ways you are accustomed to. Maybe they had a bad experience in school, maybe they feel embarrassed, maybe it is cultural, maybe they work three jobs, just maybe. I believe that all of my kids can be successful and I believe that each one of them can achieve in my classroom. I think all teachers can yell that from the rooftops. It is important that we have the same blind faith in parents because when we start doubting them we are undermining a crucial aspect of student success. Parents matter, they are an important part of the success of our students. What can we do to support the parents that need us most? We ask that question about the kids in our classroom but I wonder if we ask it about the parents.

That old man in the picture above is my Dad (with my oldest son.) He never went to conferences, never signed papers, never read with me or helped me with homework or science projects. Mainly because he couldn’t or he felt like he couldn’t. My Dad migrated from Mexico picking cotton as a kid and his schooling was not extensive. He can fix or repair just about anything but struggles with spelling and writing to this day. There are reasons he wasn’t involved but I know he valued my education despite never showing that to my teachers.

You might never know the experiences, situations or backgrounds of the families coming to you so give them the benefit of the doubt every time.

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Class Blog: Student Faces Are Not Necessary to be Successful

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I recently posted examples from my Kindergarten class blog and there were two questions that I got asked several times that I wanted to discuss in a separate post.

Question #1– “Do you have permission to show the kids faces on the blog” or “how do you get permission”. 

When I first started my blog I did not have permission to show the kids faces on the blog. Please don’t let that keep your from starting a blog. As long as your administration approves you having a blog you CAN have a very successful space without ever showing a kids face (I rhyme all the time.) You only need to be creative with how you take pictures. At the bottom of this post I have examples of images from our blog without faces. The key is taking a picture that will promote discussion at home. Another option is blurring faces (see below.) To get permission for my class blog I had every parent sign a permission slip at meet the teacher. It was required for them to fill out. I gave them three choices: 1) I give permission for my child’s images to be on the blog 2) I give permission but I want my child’s face to be obscured 3) I do not want my child on the blog at all. You can download the permission slip here and the blog parent info letter I use here.

Question #2- How do you blur the kids faces in the photos

I use skitch to blur the kids faces. Skitch is a web tool and also an app. You can see how to do this with Skitch by looking here. I mainly use the app on my phone to quickly blur out things I don’t want showing before posting on the blog. Even though I can post the kids faces I make sure to blur out names on the wall or anything that will connect us to a specific location. This tool is free, easy to use, and a fast way to blur a part of an image.

These are actual images from my class blog when I could not post the kids faces…

Learning about seeds

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Labeling the sprouts (done with Skitch)

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Observing pumpkins

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Making applesauce

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Science experiment ingredients

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Q-tip painting

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Building Poems

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Math story problems with Educreations app/website

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Literacy lesson using Popplet app/website

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Voting for the president

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Listening Center

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Library time

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