It seems hardly possible that we're in the middle of October already - my new job is starting to feel a little less new and I've finally stopped feeling as though I'm in a whirlwind and feel a little bit more steady on my feet.
There's so much to catch up on here, from lessons and books read to recaping how my first real foray into library centers has gone, but for now, I want to talk about ClassDojo.
I stumbled across ClassDojo last weekend when catching up on my school library blogs and was immediately intrigued. You see, while I haven't (touch wood) had to deal with any major discipline issues, the usual routine of hushing and asking kids to be quiet and stay on task gets wearying. So, this past week, I experimented with it during my lessons, and I'm quite pleased with the results.
Billed as a "free for early adopters like you" web-based service, ClassDojo allows you to track individual student behavior and award or subtract points for customized behaviors. Instead of using it for students, I'm using it for the whole class, so at the moment, I've got "entering the library," "making smart choices," "listening and paying attention," "respecting others" and "participation" as my "students." I then customized the positive and negative behaviors to match. Each time a positive point is awarded, the computer makes a satisfying "ding!" and when a point is taken away, it makes a sad noise. The kids responded really well to the instant feedback, and it even kicked the power of positive peer pressure into effect ("John, be quiet! We're going to lose a point!")
If you're a classroom teacher, you can also share the detailed breakdowns of student behavior with students and parents alike, which I can see being really useful. I have yet to test out the Android app and how well it works with the web version, but I am hoping that this will help reign in the distractingly disruptive behaviors that have been slowly creeping into library.
Yes, it was novel this past week, but I'm optimistic it'll help with overall behavior, especially with my younger students, because it allows me to accurately report to their teachers how they did and whether they deserve sticks/marbles/blocks/whatever incentive the homeroom teacher is using. Plus, the monsters are adorable!
Although I had two days of work last week with my new colleagues, today marked the official first day of school. It's a weird week, what with Monday being a holiday for Labor Day, and I'll be out Thursday because Rosh Hashanah is early this year, but I think I'm off to a great start. The kids are adorable, polite, and curious. I'm sure teaching kindergarten tomorrow morning may cause everything to fly out the window (not only is tomorrow their first day of school, for many of them, it's their first day at THIS school, so I have my work cut out for me), but today was a promising start.
I started by welcoming students and introducing myself, then I asked them to introduce themselves and tell me something about themselves. Given that these were first and second graders, we had some lovely tangents where everyone wanted to offer their favorite color or chime in that they had also been to that amusement part, but that's part of the fun. Then I gave the students a chance to ask me some questions - I think my favorite was "why are you wearing pink nail polish today if pink isn't your favorite color?"
Then we did a little bit of routine setting when I demonstrated the wind chime I bought from Amazon. I had an instructor in grad school who used the chime to get our attention, and I found it an effective method, so I decided to deploy it from the get-go. I explained to the kids that when they heard the chime, they needed to stop what they were doing and fall silent, then I had them practice talking gobbeldy-gook to their neighbor and falling silent. They aced it.
We closed by reading the lovely Sky Color by Peter Reynolds (who is local! He may be on my list now for an author study/visit), which I found out about on a blog talking about a "no rules" first day. I read the kids the story, then asked them to think about why I had chosen it. They gave their guesses, then I told them that I hope that library will be a place where they can be creative, use their imaginations, make things, and feel safe to experiment and take risks. That's my hope for this year.
My name is Ms. Bery. I am a PK-8 library media specialist in the Boston area. In addition to being a certified school librarian, I am also certified in instructional technology, and have a strong interest in exploring and integrating technology in new and exciting ways in the classroom.
I am also a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator, and a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's President's Award.
Check out the Sandbox for apps and websites I've found useful in supporting student learning and creativity. I also review children's, middle grade, and young adult books on Instagram.
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