Archive for March, 2013

Class Dojo for ninja teachers

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

class dojo main

Every teacher wants the answer to classroom managmen and the answer is different for each person.  I have met some teachers who use Class Dojo.  Class Dojo is a real time behavior management application for classrooms.  Teachers can set up their class or classes on Class Dojo with icons, or avatars, representing each student.  Then the teacher can set up behavior criteria and award points to each student for showing these behaviors.  For example:  Team work, on task, prepared for class,  persistence etc.  You could have the Class Dojo screen showing on the IWB for students to see throughout the day or, as one of my colleauges does, you can have it on your Ipod strapped to your arm.  Some teachers have the application on their ipad and they keep it close to them in the classroom.

dojo classClass Dojo supports a classroom or school wide Positive Behavior System (PBS) by allowing students to accumulate points individually.  The teacher can also have a tally for the entire class and give class rewards.  Dojo has a fun interface with little monsters that can be customized, so kids might engage more and respond to the criteria.

I made myself a class with my students:  Simple Pie Man, Humpty Dumpty and Carol Burnett.  I then took attendance and awarded them points for good behaviors.  I invites parents (in this case i emailed myself) to create accounts and see their child’s report.  When I entered as Simple’s mother, I could see that today, Simple received points for being on task and working well in a team. (I was relieved because Simple has a hard time focusing in class!).  Simple’s teacher can send a report with 2 clicks in Class Dojo.  This is huge improvement over personal emails everyday.

Some comments on Rachel Owen’s blog Go Forth with Mrs Owens question the points and resetting them.  Basically you can reset the points to zero at the end of each class (secondary) or day (primary).  There does not seem to be a way of keeping track of points longer than that – but I am sure teachers can keep track of this if they want.  But maybe it is OK if kids can start anew each day!


Students role?

Nothing is hidden from the students either.  They can each create an account on the student Class Dojo site.  They can see their points for each day or class and change their avatar.  For the kids that like a laugh, they can surprise their classmates each day with a funny new avatar.

WHY Dojo?

In an article in the Huffington Post (UK) the Class Dojofounders L iam Don and Sam Chaudray state that “Four out of 10 teachers say they spend more of their time in class managing behaviour than teaching, time which they want to dedicate to the classroom.” They were looking for a way to make this part of teaching easier to manage.  The comments on this article were interesting as well.  One reader stated “I have noticed that it has helped my students identify WHAT they were doing incorrectly (out of seat/talking/etc) without me having to do the old, “Stop it, Johnny” routine.”

How are teachers using it?

I found a tonne of blogs by teachers talking about Class Dojo.  The general feeling is that Class Dojo offers a fun, easy way to give feedback to students and parents about classroom behaviors.  Most people love the application and are using it in the most basic way.  One blogger, Bianca Hewes, was super intense and has modified the behavior criteria to fit with her philoposhies related to “16 habits of the mind”.

Audrey Nay, a librarian blogger, uses Class Dojo for each class that comes to visit the library.  She tracks borrowing and overdues for each child in addition to her loan system for the books.

Richard Byrne writes a blog called Free Technologies for Teachers. (Did I mention Class Dojo is free?).  He keeps a treasure box where students can redeem their points earned for positive behaviors.  The rewards often include privileges that students enjoy like free time, use of the Ipad etc.  He chooses not to use subtract points options because  “[he] prefer[s] the students to focus more on meeting my expectations rather than on how they can disappoint [him].”

All in all, Class Dojo offers a fun, easy and visually intriguing behavior managment system.

Class-dojo avatars


Prezi Perfect

Posted: March 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

While searching for inspiration, I came across a presentation about mythical creatures made by someone .prezi logo It caught my attention because it zoomed in and out as I clicked through the topic. I immediately wanted to know more. So as soon as I completed the assignement I was working on (9 hours later?) I googled Prezi..

It was super easy to make a free account. This gives you about 10 prezentations for free but they have to be public and prezi essentially owns them. I then chose a theme from about 40 different options. The working page is familiar with a navigation column on the left and overall mangement choices on the top right. All I needed to do was click on the text boxes and insert my text. The text styles, graphics and placements were already there.
prezi screen 2

For my first presentation I fiddled for about 15 min to complete a basic 6 step format with no extras. I then lost the entire thing by viewing the presentation and clicking “back”. Great! However, the re-creation of my 6 step presentation only took me about 5 min. The only downside was that when I went back to try and imbed it in this blog, Prezi said I have not Prezis!!! But it still exists online, just not on my account. Wierd… more to learn!
Click here to check out my Prezi!

Here is a demo Prezi I build to show my Secondary 4 Practicum class the application. I am hoping they will try and use Prezi for their upcomming project presentation.

If you already have content in Powerpoint format, you can import it into Prezi and it will place each slide in a topic box.  Kevin Claveria writes a blog about marketing and he recommends to his followers to use Prezi for more impact. He even has a Prezi online resume to market himself and his services.

For a teacher, there are Prezis that are already there… and are really well done. There is no need to create content that you can just click on and use as added inserts for your class. Check out this one about social media.
Social Media 101 –

The movement of the ideas keeps the audience engaged and wondering what is coming next. Prezi also has creative audio options for presentations. You can have audio connected to each slide that moves in, or for the entire Prezi. Prezi allow you to insert videos, images and symbols to enhance the topic.

prezi logo

A teacher could use prezi as a tool but even better… introduce it to the students and they can easily transform their own ideas into fun, zooming shows. We have finally moved beyond the text effects as the only what to make a presentation interesting! Students can tell stories, present ideas, share information and explore their creativity. Paul hill thinks that Prezi is the way to go for presentations to students, however he cautions about over-using the rotate functions beause your students will get wise to the gimick or just get seasick!

There are a few critics who think Prezi is  a gimick.. but hey, prezi makes it fun.  Itsn’t that the meaning of it all? You really have to see it to understand how excited I am about Prezis!

And I am not the only one who is prezi crazy in this class….  Marianne writes a more humorous account of prezi than I ever could.  Sebastien has a very clean and business like take on prezi.  I am always amazed that we are writing about the same topics, but have completely different links and references… but essentially the same opinions!

Kinect to Education

Posted: March 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Gesture-based computing is here to stay – according to Kinect creators. Sci-fi has been preparing us for this for years and now we are finally making the body-brain connection for real.

Tom Cruise is doing it…. why aren’t you?
Image source:

Kinect is an add-on for the XBox 360, created by Microsoft, that allows you to control your TV, Computer, Game console with your body.  Its applications are broad, from surgery, rehabilitation and special needs adaptation to education and of course, gaming.

The classroom applications are endless. Kin-Educate is a program created for Kinect that allows students to manipulate on-screen objects (preferable on an IWB) in spelling, math and science. Kin-educate also has a voice recognition feature than allows the user to stop, pause or ask for help. I was not able to actually try the program, but after watching several videos of classrooms using it, I can see how useful it would be in differientiation. A student that has fine motor challenges fatigues quickly in a language arts lesson, but if that student can manipulate letters with large arm movements he/she will stay engaged in the lesson.

Kinectmath is the use of Xbox 360 for math learning. Brilliant! Professor Robin Angotil has worked with Microsoft to create a mathematical application that uses student’s movements, tracked, to create graphs in real-time. This means that the student is actually experiencing mathematical equations physically. From an educational standpoint Gesture-based computing is the true connect for kinesthetic learners. The visual learners also engage because the entire class can engage in queuing the student that is interacting with the program by moving.

This means that math classes can move into the 21 century! What a concept! students are so tech savvy that it is like walking back in time to them to take out a textbook, copy book and write down equations. Graphing calculators, that were like Star Trek devices in my time, are outdated, oversized and clumsy to today’s students.

Avatar – Amazing!Avatar Kinect is a game that allows the user to create an avatar that will mimic their movements.


The avatar Kinect offers a virtual classroom opportunity. There are several stages that the avatar can enter and engage in discussions with others, whether they are in the classroom or in another country. These discussions happen in real-time with the avatars mimicking the real student’s gestures right down the eyebrows. These discussions can be recorded and submitted for evaluation. Kids can also record their avatar presenting a project, tearing down the “shyness” barrier.

All this being said – what are teachers saying? What are students saying? There is an independent (from Microsoft) resource called Kinecteducation. This is a place where educators as well as students share experience and resources from the real classroom. The blog is full of amazing ideas and links.I found  stories about students who are creating Kinect content.

If gesture-based computing has you moving – you can also check out The Leap Motion Controller. Not even on the market, The Leap is promising to change the way you interact with your onscreen items.

This really should have been 3 posts….Oh well.