I ended up with two new friends. They are Class Dojo and the "No Yell" bell. Seriously, if you don't have these, get them.
I absolutely love Class Dojo. I am using it two ways. I use it to monitor student individual behavior but I also have each class set up as table behavior. I have two classes on Class DoJo for each of my classes. I did this because I wanted to create a reward system that was fun for my students and would force the ones that don't like to clean up to clean up. When my students come into my classroom they know that they must be seated when the bell rings in order to get a point. I have very few tardies anymore. There is less wasted time getting students to settle down because they know I am giving them points if they are quiet. Class Dojo is so easy to set up but what is really nice is I can constantly change the positive and negative behaviors. I have added things like "turning in quality artwork" to "volunteering". Students know that I am looking at them and thinking about their behavior and it keeps them on their toes. Luckily, my sixth grade students already knew about Class Dojo because a couple of their exploratory teachers had been using it last year. My seventh and eighth grade students were unfamiliar with it but loved the cute little avatars.
My reward system is interesting. I told students they could negotiate what their reward would be with me. I have a giant bucket of Dum Dum suckers, Little Debbie type cookies bought at the Dollar store, trinkets from Smile Makers, and any combination of those. Students can also bring their music for a week or go make a movie together and replace one of their projects. Students can replace a project with a different type of art project. I am open to negotiate with them and make them feel like they really got something great!
Some 6th and 7th grade students decided it would be fun to learn about pixelation. They got to create a stop motion animation of people. I also let them work with Sam Animation and One True Media. So, while they were having fun, they were still learning! Here are two videos made this week from students who chose this as their reward:
This first one was made by sixth grade students.
This one was made by seventh grade students.
When a table of students win an award for getting points on Class DoJo, I allow them to have these trophies on their table for a week if they want to kind of "show off" that they are special.
The NO Yell bell is digital. It has 7 sounds on it. I use two of the sounds. Number 4 sounds like some alien ship. I use it to alert students to the fact that I need to say something. It is highly effective. Often times students don't pay attention to their teachers which causes teachers to escalate their voice. I am no stranger to that one. The No Yell bell stops that behavior. The students settle right down because they know I need to talk with them. I use number 6 as our clean up bell. It is like a clicking sound and then a buzzer like you are running out of time. When that bell goes off my students get right to work on their clean up jobs. I have color coded the tables and I have a chart on my white board that I rotate the colors on so that each week students have different jobs.
I have even more things to share about how I set up my room this year but I will save that for the coming weeks. I hope this helps anyone out there reading my blog. Your two best friends could be Class Dojo and the No Yell bell. I know they are mine!