Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tech Thursday:!

Technology Thursday is a weekly linky dedicated to all things technology related. Share reviews of websites or apps you've tried, tech tips that make your {teaching or personal} life easier, and helpful tutorials. Our hope is that this linky provides a place for teachers to share and learn new ways to use technology and engage students!

Be a rule follower!
Rule #1: You must include the image above and a link to our linky somewhere in your blog post.
Rule #2: Follow the Rule of Three...visit the two blogs who link up before you and the one immediately after you and leave some love on their pages!
Rule #3: This linky is not intended for product promotion. You may include products you've created in your posts, but they should not be the sole focus of the post. {Exception...freebies...because everybody loves a good freebie!}

Today I get to talk to you about one of my favorite websites: ClassDojo!  I started using ClassDojo a couple of years ago and am now a mentor for my school. I use it every day and absolutely love it. The best part of the website is that they keep improving it based on teacher suggestions!

Brief Introduction

ClassDojo is a FREE classroom management and parent communication system that is web based and has mobile capabilities. Dojo aims to greatly reduce the time that teachers spend managing behaviors so that they can spend more time teaching.

How I Use ClassDojo

I have ClassDojo on before the students enter the classroom.  Student then "tap in" on my SMARTboard with the attendance part of the website.  I leave ClassDojo running all day on my front computer.  Throughout the day I try to stay consistent in giving points to my students.  When students achieve a certain number of points, they can go to the treasure box.  At that point, I reset their points back to 0 and they start earning points again.

Special Features

Timer- The time is automatically set to 5 minutes but you can change it to anytime that you need.  Here's the biggest tip: Don't forget to press START when you have selected your time.  I can't tell you how many times I did that this last year. Ha!

Attendance- Teachers can set the attendance to "mark all absent" which turns all avatars red.  Students then check in by tapping or clicking on their avatar when they arrive.  The teacher then saves the attendance.

Random Selector- The teacher can click on the random selector and it will, you guessed it, "randomly" select a student.  I use this for a number of things in the classroom. You can use this for when you need a volunteer or when you just what to do a spot check on a behavior.

Reports- This is a great communication tool with parents and a wonderful documentation tool. You can run reports for the whole class or a particular student.  You can also choose the time frame for the reports; that day, yesterday, a week, a month, or all time. These reports tell every specific behavior that has been recorded for that student.  It also shows a cool circle graph so students and parents can easily understand what they are seeing.  Parents can log in and see this information whenever they want!  Of course it can be printed as well.

Customizing Positive and Needs Work Behaviors- Teachers can click on Display Settings.  Then click on "edit students and behaviors".  Click on "customize behaviors" and edit the behaviors to fit the needs of your classroom and your students.

Display Settings- In this area of ClassDojo you can edit students and behaviors, change the avatar size, change the student order, change how the point bubbles are displayed, edit sound preferences, and select new avatars for the students.

New ClassDojo Features

Sharing students across the school-  Each teacher in your school receives a class code.  If you share that code with another teacher, you can connect and share students.  For example, if students switch teachers for math, the math teacher can continue to use those students' particular ClassDojo accounts. The students can continue to build on the progress that they have made and parents can receive a more complete picture of their student's behavior. Student behavior reports can also be shared across the school such as with administrators or counselors.

 ClassDojo Messenger- Messenger helps teachers connect with parents by the ability to send messages via their phone or other mobile device.  Say I go home and have forgotten to send a reminder about an important assignment.  I get out my phone, pull up my Dojo app, type in my message, and send to either all or some of my students.  The message goes to the parents' email addresses.  The fabulous part is that Dojo lets me know which parents have viewed my message!

Allowing teachers to assign multiple points values to behaviors- I love this feature. There are just times when 1 point is not enough!  I love that I can give +2 for "helping others".  How motivating is that!  I also like that "hurting others" can be a -2

Ability to change display bubbles- Before teachers could only show cumulative point totals- positive points minus negative points.  Now teachers can show positive and negative point totals separately or show no point totals at all.

Top 10 Tips for Using ClassDojo

  1. Teach the students your behavior management plan.  Explain it to them.  Demonstrate how it will work.  Students need to know what will happen if they behave a certain way and what to expect.
  2. Be positive more than negative. Students respond better to positive rewards.
  3. Be consistent.  If you don't use the site in a consistent way, it definitely won't work for you!
  4. Keep the sound effects on.  Sometimes it just takes a positive "note" for the other students to sit up and take notice.
  5. Change the behaviors, positive and negative, to match your age group and classroom.  I even change them as the year goes along.  
  6. Take advantage of the parent communication parts of ClassDojo!  Messenger, parents having the ClassDojo app on their phone to check up on their student, and student reports are fabulous! 
  7. Allow tech savvy students to help enter student points and reset points.  They love doing this!  Eventually students can be responsible for giving themselves their own points or taking them away.
  8. Some kiddos will always need tangible rewards!  Keep in mind that one system will never work for every student.  You can still use Dojo for those students but in a different way.  Use if for homework, reading test, word work, or completed work.
  9. Play with Dojo for a while before you give up.  It make take awhile for you to figure out how to fit it into your classroom and how it will work best for you.
  10. Connect with others that are using ClassDojo.  See how they are using it and what they are doing. Your teacher next door is usually your best resource!

Hope you check out ClassDojo!  Let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Back to School

Wordless Wednesday with Sugar and Spice!

It happens to be a very special day; the Teaching Trio is going back to school!  I figured we could use some back to school humor today since we have to answer the call of our alarm clocks this morning!

When do you all go back to school?

Monday, July 28, 2014

What Are You Reading? 7/28/1

 Today I am linking up with Jen from Teach Mentor Texts for her linky, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

On Wednesday of this week, I go back to work! I can't believe I just typed that...Seriously, where, oh, where did the summer go? In preparation for the new school year, I am currently reading some picture books to go along with a unit on mentor sentences that I will be using in ELA. (The unit can be found on TPT here. Amazing!) 
Here are some of the books that I am currently reading: 

First Day Jitters written by Julie Danneberg
Very cute book. Great for the beginning of the year!

Enemy Pie written by Derek Munson
I love this book! Very entertaining and teaches valuable lessons! I also really like the illustrations in this one! 

Countdown 'Til Daddy Comes Home written by Kristin Ayyar
This is a book that my son and I have been reading together a lot lately. Great book for younger children whose family members are in the service and will experience separation at some point. My son loves it. His daddy should be home in about a month though! 

So, now I ask, what are you reading? Please share, I would love to know!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Teach?

Check out my discussion article on!  I hope it gives you a little boost as you begin to begin to begin to think about the beginning of the school year.  Of course I only have 2 "free" days left!  Make sure to leave a comment on the post!  Click on the picture above or HERE.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Freebie: Spelling Chain

What could be better than a FREEBIE on FRIDAY?  Today we are linking up with Teaching Blog Addict for their fabulous Freebie Fridays!

Spelling is sometimes horribly monotonous.  We tend to do the same activities each week.  On Monday, we take a pretest.  On Tuesday, we write the words in a sentence.  On Wednesday, we.....gee, just typing this stuff is making me yawn.  

The FREEBIE that I am sharing today is a little bit different.  Students still practice their spelling words.  They even can write the words 3 times each.  Sound familiar?  Here's the twist...students write the words on bands of paper.  They then decorate the paper with patterns and colors.  Some of my students love this part of the spelling project.  After their paper bands are decorated, students cut the bands out and then glue them together to make a spelling chain.  

My students love making the chain.  I have done this with first graders and third graders alike. I usually find the chains hanging in our student lockers for decoration.  The kiddos think it looks marvelous and eventually want to connect different week's words together!  Get rid of that old tired spelling routine and add in some this cool freebie!  It has spelling chain sheets for 10, 12, 15, and 20 words.

Click on the picture to go to my TPT store to download or click here!

Enjoy your FREEBIE and your Friday!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tech Thursday: Google Safe Search

Technology Thursday is a weekly linky dedicated to all things technology related. Share reviews of websites or apps you've tried, tech tips that make your {teaching or personal} life easier, and helpful tutorials. Our hope is that this linky provides a place for teachers to share and learn new ways to use technology and engage students!
Be a rule follower!
Rule #1: You must include the image above and a link to our linky somewhere in your blog post.
Rule #2: Follow the Rule of Three...visit the two blogs who link up before you and the one immediately after you and leave some love on their pages!
Rule #3: This linky is not intended for product promotion. You may include products you've created in your posts, but they should not be the sole focus of the post. {Exception...freebies...because everybody loves a good freebie!}

Throwback Thursday: Great Tech Tip You May Have Overlooked!

This week's tech tip: how to set up Google SafeSearch.

Our school has a pretty good internet filter, but sometimes things still show up on my students' Google searches that I would rather not be there. (Especially true of 5th grade boys!) There are a ton of student friendly SafeSearch sites out there, but my big kids want to just "Google it" so they usually don't go to those sites unless I am hovering over them.

Enter Google SafeSearch. If you have a Google account, you can even lock SafeSearch so that you have to be the one to turn it off! The downside is that you'll have to do this on every computer, but if it will clean up the search results (and I'm hoping also the Google ads), it's worth it!

Here's how to get it done:

1. Go to
2. At the top of the first screen you'll see this:

3. Turn on SafeSearch by checking the "filter explicit results" box.
4. If you have a Google account, you can lock this setting. Just click the "lock safe search button".
5. After you enter your password, you will be taken to this screen, and you'll need to click "lock safe search" again.

6. It will work for a few seconds, and when it's ready you'll see this:

As my students would say, easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Hope this helps clean up your students' Google searches!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday-7/23/14

I am linking up with Christina over at Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday!

If you give your students a beginning of the year gift, what do you give? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two for Tuesday! Morphology & Birthday Cupcakes

It's know what that means! Two for Tuesday at The Teaching Tribune!

This week, I am putting two of my newer products on sale for half price all day today!

First up, my brand new, hot off the presses vocabulary unit... Growing Vocabulary Roots (Unit 1)! I have worked SO hard this summer to get this unit done, and I can't wait to use it in my classroom this year. After a lot of experimentation and trial and error last year, I have finally found a way to teach vocabulary that really works for me, and this unit is it!

Rather than teaching random lists of words that go along with a story we are reading, I focus on a group of morphemes (root wods, prefixes, or suffixes) and several words that use those morphemes. Students learn important foundational skills for decoding unfamiliar words as they come across them in their reading. I saw such an improvement in my students' vocabulary skills last year after implementing these techniques, and I can't wait to see the difference it makes when I actually start the year with a comprehensive vocabulary program!

Includes everything you need for the first 9 weeks of instruction...
  • Three morphemes per week
  • Word lists that use those morphemes
  • Word sorts and weekly practice activities
  • Assessments & answer keys
  • Personal Root Word Dictionary for students
  • Teacher instructions, schedule, summary of research, and CCSS alignment

Second... I am so excited about my new Perfect Patterns classroom theme, and I think my favorite element so far is my Birthday Cupcakes bulletin board display! 

These cupcakes are adorable, if I do say so myself, and they are a perfect birthday display for your bulletin board, wall, or door. Cut out the cupcakes, and write student birthdays on the bottom half of each cupcake. Laminate them first, and you can reuse year after year by wiping off the names with acetone! Get yours today for $1.50!

Head over to The Teaching Tribune to see what else is on sale today!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday-July 18, 2014

 It's FRIDAY! Woo Hoo! Today I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for her awesome weekly linky party!
I have been sort of absent from all things blogging/teacher related this week. It has been a crazy, week for me. So here are some random things from this week to fill you in! 

I am still in Iowa visiting family, because my husband's deployment was extended. My sister and I decided to have some fun and go to World's of Fun in Kansas City. It was just the two of us and we had an amazing time. I am a big fan of roller coasters, so we made sure we hit up the biggest ones! 
Waiting to get on our first roller coaster of the day!

One of the scariest moments of my life happened this week. I have a very mobile, curious 14 month old. She gets into EVERYTHING. She doesn't sit still, she gets into places she shouldn't, she climbs, and climbs. Well, somehow she got a hold of a bottle of Unisom (it is a sleep aid). It obviously has a child-safe cap, but being the little girl she is, she managed to get it open and swallowed some (still not sure of the amount). This all happened in the span of about one minute when I was getting her brother's lunch set out for him. Terrifying. We rushed her to the Children's Hospital and she was admitted. I won't go into details of what I experienced with her, but I don't wish that on anyone. It was so scary. Please be mindful of where your (or anyone's) medication is, because little ones are like magicians when they want something. I am happy to report that she is back to her happy, inquisitive, busy little self. Thank God. 

Elle in the hospital. 

Back to her happy self! Precious girl!

I started reading The Book Whisperer this week. I have heard wonderful things about it. I will be sure to report my findings when I finish. 

On Sunday, my kids and I will be leaving Iowa after a month and a half. It will be back to reality for me. Sad to be leaving my family, but I am very excited to really start preparing for the upcoming school year. I have SO MUCH to do!

I am pretty sure that I will be moving to fourth grade this year. I haven't heard anything definite, but considering the numbers in fourth and fifth grade, it is looking likely that I will be moving. I will be so sad to leave my team; they are the best. On a positive note, I get to stay in my room and it really won't be a drastic change.