The 22 third-grade students in Ms. Weaver’s Millstadt class are naturally well-behaved, but they sure like hearing the “ding!” of approval from her phone all the same.
Shannon Weaver uses a mobile app called ClassDojo to encourage students to behave. The app allows the teacher to instantly communicate any behavior issues with parents. The app is free to teachers and parents.
ClassDojo is used in 70,000 schools across the United States to “motivate kids to do better,” says company spokeswoman Nora Murray. The number of classrooms using the app in Illinois was not available.
22 number of students in Shannon Weaver’s class
15 total number of parents using the ClassDojo app
Most of the parents in Weaver’s class have signed up to see their little monster’s behavior for the day. Each third-grader chose his or her own monster icon at the beginning of the school year. Students acquire points throughout the day and week, and Weaver uses it to quantify a citizenship grade at the end of the week.
More than 15 parents have signed on, she says, and parents who have not get the same score by a weekly update that goes home in what the students call “the yellow folder.”
“You don’t want to exclude people who don’t have that access,” Weaver says.
Weaver also has students write down homework assignments, even though there are electronic ways for her to communicate that information to parents.
She says parents who do use the app often have it set to notifications, so they quickly know of changes to their child’s behavior and can message Weaver through the app.
Murray, of ClassDojo, said parents can use the app’s information as a “conversation starter” about the child’s school day.
Megan Groom, 8, isn’t sure if her parents have the app, but she knows how it works because her second-grade teacher at Millstadt also used it.
“We got bad points this morning,” she said of hearing a “buzz” from a student who did not turn in a homework assignment.
“I always have an ‘A’ on my yellow folder,” she says. Weaver staples letter grades on the folders for the week’s citizenship.
Weaver says she can assign or detract points from the whole class, a group or individual with just a quick swipe.
“I might make a point (of calling out one student’s extraordinary behavior). The other day I had a student who was volunteering all the time, I made a point of that,” she said to explain how she backs up the app’s “ding” with verbal praise.
A feature she says parents really enjoy is the photos that are instantly viewed through the app and secure to parents only.
“As soon as I put up pictures, I get a lot of responses,” she said. “They love seeing what the kids are doing.”