Wow. We're well into the new year and a dear colleague of mine reminded me I never finished blogging about ACTFL! So without further ado,...
Take-away #5: Class Dojo:
I attended a session from Mercedes & Ryan at https://linguatreats.weebly.com/. Their session was called Fifty Shades of Grades. One suggestion they made was to use the website/app Class Dojo. I've known and heard about this resource for a while now but always thought it was more gauged for elementary classrooms. Ryan & Mercedes suggested using Class Dojo in groups in secondary language classrooms. This was just the thing I was looking for to motivate my students to not only speak Spanish in class but also for the absence of English in class. I don't expect my level 2 students to say a lot, I want them focused and getting as much input as possible. By enforcing the 'lack of English' rule it helps the ENTIRE classroom environment: less side-talk, more focus, more input, more acquisition.
Here is how we used Class Dojo during our unit on Animals & Habitats of the World.
1. Getting started: Students sign-up for Class Dojo and joined my class. Class Dojo automatically creates Parent Invite codes for every student or if you go into your class settings you can select that you already have parent permission to use Class Dojo so that students can scan a QR code to join.
2. Form Groups: Once students were in my class they were assigned into groups. I took a lot of time to think about who I wanted to challenge, who would need more help and who wouldn't be comfortable with certain people. It's all about knowing your students, right?
We called these groups their "familias". Prior to using Class Dojo we hadn't been using assigned seats. This was a way for me to switch up seating without them feeling like I was telling them which exact desk they had to sit in. Whenever I walk into a meeting or a conference or even university classes...I am never told which seat I HAVE to sit in. Each "familia" could sit wherever they wanted but they had to sit together because they would be working together for the entire unit.
3. Incentives: I told my students that they would get a little "something, something" when their family got to 10 points AND that when every family got to 10 points the entire class would get a little "something, something". I DID NOT know ahead of time what I was going to give them nor do I recommend telling them exactly what they are going to get. They loved (mostly!) the competitive aspect and they mystery combined.
4. Awarding points: In Class Dojo you can award points (Positive) or remove them (Needs Work). You can define the skills you want your students to be demonstrating so I added "Spanish Only" in the Positive side and "Too much English" in the Needs Work side. Throughout each lesson I added or subtracted points to each group based on how each group was working together, who was participating or volunteering and how much English/Spanish was being spoken.
5. Keeping Track of It All: It's not always easy to remember when to add points and subtract. Since this was my first time using Class Dojo I decided to designate a team leader for each group and I wrote their team number and the leader's name on the whiteboard. Instead of adding the points right into Class Dojo on the spot I used the whiteboard to keep track and input the data at the end of the hour. (BUT SEE BELOW FOR A BETTER IDEA...) I often would end each lesson by showing the class where each "familia" was at as a way to encourage more/better/continuous effort on the next day. Also, if students are logged-in to Class Dojo they can see how their "familia" is doing but even with 1:1 devices several students didn't get into the habit of checking.
6. The Actual Incentive: As I said before, I didn't decide ahead of time what I wanted the incentives to be. When the first "familia" got to 10 points I was in the mood for cookies that day so I bought 2 packs of cookies ($4 total) which would be enough to feed each group eventually. Once they saw the other teams getting cookies it was a hot-race to earn more points.
Eventually we got every "familia" to 10 points...there is always one group that pulls down the rest (am I right?) and takes them a bit longer and a lot more encouraging (am I right or am I right?). I decided to ask the kids what they wanted and they voted for pizza/pot-luck and/or a movie.
What that turned into was an opportunity for me to show them the Netflix Original, Velvet. After showing episode one in class I have students going home and watching more on their own time! Hook them as much as you can! Better classroom management and compelling input at the same time. Win. Win.
7. MOBILE APP!!
I don't know how I didn't check this ahead of time but there is an app for Class Dojo, that is teacher-friendly. You can add and subtract points right from your phone! I didn't use Class Dojo in our most recent unit (it might lose the novelty if you use it all the time) but I'm excited to try out the app with a new semester and a new group of kids.
Hasta la próxima. Gracias por leer.