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Friday, August 29, 2014

TUIT: Brandon Clark, SSE

As I've said in a previous post, Southside Elementary is in a brand new building, and inside is a host of sparkling new technology.  The installation process of intelligent classrooms is finally complete, and as district personnel go through room by room to make sure everything works as advertised, teachers are just now beginning to let the edtech rip.

While on that upswing, today I observed Brandon Clark, a second grade teacher here at Southside.  There are great edtech educators here, but the totality of the way Brandon integrates tech into learning (and in particular, uses the tool I will describe below) warrants him a #ShelbyTUITshoutout!

When I entered his room, I first noticed a learning objective projected on his SMARTboard, which made the focus of the lesson clear.  His students were doing station work.  Some were "analog": reading print books silently, reading a print book aloud to a partner, writing a response in their composition notebooks.  But others worked digitally.  A group sat on the floor around the teacher's MacBook Air, watching a story video play while listening through wireless headphones.  And then, the wow moment happened.

I noticed the room's second projector had the class's ClassDojo site up.  (More about ClassDojo in a moment.)  Clearly a computer was AirPlaying to the projector's AppleTV, but I couldn't figure out where.  So I asked Brandon.

"Oh, it's from an iPad," he said, motioning me to a table.  An iPad sat in front of a second-grader.  She was reading a print book in her hand, and occasionally looking around, then down, touching the screen. "She's our Dojo Accountant for the week and helps us keep track and assigns points."

What?  I was admittedly dumbfounded.  What a wonderful leadership opportunity for a student!  What a way to make technology (literally) be on all sides of a classroom! And did I already mention this was a class of second graders??

To top it off, Brandon and I talked about the newly installed 3D document camera that he's already used in class.

Mr. Clark, you deserve your #ShelbyTUITshoutout!  Keep pushing the envelope of integrated edtech.

What is ClassDojo?  Basically, it's a digital way to track behaviors, actions and attitudes of students.  Besides a site, it's also available as an app.  Students are given colorful, cartoony avatars and the teacher (or a Dojo Accountant!) gives or takes points away.  Areas of assessment include Curiosity, Taking a Risk, or Teamwork.  Point distribution is saved, progress can be tracked individually or as a whole class, and results can easily be shared with parents.  The reward for students is cashing in their points for upgrades determined by the teacher, such as changing their avatar or a real-world gift such as having lunch with the teacher.  I can't say I've personally seen its use in high school, but it's a favorite among elementary and middle school teachers.

ClassDojo has been around for years, but you haven't checked it out recently, give it a look.  A recent upgrade is a separate iOS app that works parallel with it: ClassDojo Messenger.  You can communicate in real-time, even sending pictures or a voice message.  (Through the site, you can also send parents attachments of other files.) You can also broadcast a note to all parents.  You cannot send a message to a student, or teacher to teacher. A nifty extra is the ability to see when parents read the message. In fact, the ClassDojo Messenger App can work by itself without setting up a class on the site.

TeacherCast recently interviewed ClassDojo to talk about their app, and the last three minutes of the clip covers other new changes with their site.  The video is embedded below.

Do you use ClassDojo and/or their message app?  What age level?  What do you think of the site?  Be sure to leave your comments below.

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