Author Archives: kennypieper

Thoughts on Class Dojo – Class Don’tJo

I’m cross-posting this from own Blog as I genuinely want to seek answers. I do want to make it clear that I am not criticising Class Dojo itself but my own use of it. I know there are people using it in better ways than me so please feel free to add your thoughts afterwards. Class Dojo looks good; teachers and students clearly love it. But is it a BETTER, more effective way of managing the classroom than other things? I want to be convinced but, thus far, can’t really say that I am. So, apologies if you read it first time round but let’s collect examples of ways to use Class Dojo more effectively than I have.

Cross-posted from Just Trying to Be Better Than Yesterday

After a promising start, I’ve become a bit disillusioned with Class Dojo. In case you are unaware, Class Dojo is a behaviour management system – their words – which promotes positive behaviour in the classroom. I won’t explain it in detail. Have a look here for more. Kids love it because they get points and create a wee avatar for themselves. Teachers love it because they can display progress on the projectors and whiteboards in their classroom. Win/ win? Well, I’m not so sure.

What started well – the younger kids were constantly asking about points and competitive to get to the top – it became exactly that. A competition. After a few weeks, inevitably perhaps, the ‘running order’ took on a familiar look. The boys who had previously been poorly behaved started to drift to the bottom of pile – it is not so easy for them to remain consistently on task, or always stay focused – and others began to pull ahead.

The system began to reaffirm the class stereotypes and reaching the bottom become a race and then, inevitably, an identity. I’m fully prepared to put my hand up and admit that it could have been my failure to implement the system properly but class dojo wasn’t working for me.

As Shirley Clarke says:

‘Children who are used to rewards tend in future not to choose activities when there are no rewards to be had, and also prefer less demanding tasks.’

It had become a system of rewards with an inevitable ending. I may as well have hung a string of mars bars at the front and promised them to the good kids. My reading and understanding of Mindsets didn’t seem to square the circle. Points didn’t add up for me. (sorry). Having had a similar experience with Accelerated Reader I have now, perhaps temporarily, stopped using Class Dojo.

However, the point of this post is not to be negative about a resource that others are using more constructively than me. The whole point of my blog is to reflect and discuss. What was I doing wrong? Or what was wrong with Class Dojo I could fix before giving up on it?

My biggest problem was/is with the original ‘reward’ list, both negative and positive. My 30 mixed ability S1 (year8?) kids had no problem with the good things. They could ‘do’ teamwork; they generally ‘helped others’, participated, often worked hard, were on task etc. Although I really believe that vague comments about hard work don’t help.

However some of these young kids come from chaotic backgrounds where disruption, disrespect and the absence of anywhere to even do homework is a real problem. Of course schooling should be about teaching them these qualities but making that very public is really bad, in every way. Sorry. I found that many were switched off when they started losing points for this and many were always going to do that.

I’ve stopped using it for the moment until I can come up with a set of ‘rewards’ that all can realistically achieve, consistently. Getting the comments right will be essential if this is to really work beyond a bit of fun. Otherwise it is merely a tech tool which is only skin deep and, potentially, very damaging.

The Pick of #PedagooFriday 28-9-12

You lot making this harder every week. Just some of the excellent PedagooFridays this week…

Workshop Number 8 – #tmslFringe 2012 Feedback

There was real feeling that before a change in practice must come a change in Mindsets of all involved. It was clear that this day showed that greater teacher collaboration is possible and the enthusiasm felt by all will be taken into school and we will try to share that excitement for learning.

On Monday we should go into our schools and email the pedagoo and pedagoofriday links to all of our colleagues to let them know that we are out there and great things are happening.

We wanted to try out edmodo and solo taxonomy and blogging and glogster and so  much more.  We should listen to people who want to share collaboratively and eventually trickle into schools by hook or by crook. Let us keep positive amidst a sea of naysayers by listening and learning from others who are engaged, positive and forward looking. We now know that this pedagoo community is there for that reason.

In a year’s time some of us are promising to return to next year’s event to share amazing ideas by presenting workshops.

We need to help raise the profile of Pedagoo by direct contact with directors of education, ILAs, Hts etc.

As teachers we must organize and support local Teachmeet/ pedagoo events.

Perhaps in a year’s time all of our CPD will be delivered by teachers for teachers. In a year’s time, our classrooms will be places where everyone – teachers and students –  leaves having learned something,

We need to remember that life long learning does not just happen. We should hold a mirror up to our own learning so that others can see the process. We should inject other teachers with positivity.

To finish, it was nice to hear the individual enthusiasm for Pedagoo and what we are trying to achieve. We need to bottle that enthusiasm and explode it, like champagne, when we get back to schools. Unfortunately, no, we can’t get into teacher training – might be a bit of a closed shop there – but we will continue to keep on keeping on.

This weekend was amazing but will count for nothing if we don’t go back to our schools and prepare for a better future.

Sign up to Organise a teachmeet or become a pedaguru.

Let’s make it happen, people!

The Pick of #PedagooFriday 21-9-12

In all the excitement of the weekend – something special took place on Saturday – we eventually get round to choosing some great pedagoofridays. Enjoy.

#pedagoofriday P1s took photos of parts of the school to share with P7 buddies. Then described route to location, and took buddies to see.

— George Gilchrist (@GilchristGeorge) September 21, 2012

#Pedagoofriday tried to bring Shakespeare to life by using three projectors to create the globe theatre in the classroom @pedagoo

— Nic Raphael (@nicnacraph) September 21, 2012

#PedagooFriday part 1 AH pupils chart the reign of the Scottish Guardians as a twitter stream…

— TJL (@laverminded) September 21, 2012

A very exciting afternoon #geocaching with my P6s in Scone Woods. Solved puzzle cache! Highly engaged learners and parents! #pedagoofriday

— fraserboyd (@fraserboyd) September 21, 2012

Highlight: an S5/Yr12 leaver returning to prizegiving, greeting me with a bear hug and news she’s still writing stories #pedagoofriday

— Lass in a Class (@LassinaClass) September 21, 2012

Watching my recordings of my class being news reporters, reporting on the farm robbery in the story ‘What the ladybird heard’ #pedagoofriday

— Danielle McNulty (@MrsDaniMcNulty) September 21, 2012

What a great week. See you Friday folks. Looking forward to hearing your great ideas.

Blogging and e-portfolios – My workshop at #tmslFringe2012

I first turned to Blogging about three years ago when the Writing Folio was introduced at NQ level in English. English teachers had been calling for a creative writing element to be returned to the final exam grade – it had  previously been an internal assessment at pass or fail – and, while a Folio was certainly not what we wanted that’s what we got. I wanted to avoid the usual pile of paper, written for an audience of one, so turned to Blogging. I wasn’t tech savvy at all. I used Glow blogs, not because they were the best option; they were the only option. Looking back now I’m glad I did. My senior classes were a bit unsure. They still felt that they were writing for an audience of one and when I opened the blog up for peer comments they initially reverted to insult and mockery. As teenagers tend to do as a default position. However, after we discussed ways to peer assess something started to happen. I began to see posts at 11pm, 2.30 am. 11.30am (when they were avoiding Maths in the library!- and the blog began to take shape.

Throughout that year I also had S1 blogging about their reading; S2 blogging about Inanimate Alice and S3 and S4 blogging reflectively about their learning. Some took to it more keenly than others; some still wanted to write on paper. No problem. What blogging did for me was to understand more the importance of audience. Writing for an audience of one is tedious and counterproductive.

What I had at the end of the year was the makings of what I thought could develop into e-portfolios. How can we achieve that?

So why blog in the classroom. It certainly helped my students to become more reflective learners. When we emphasise the word ‘Publish’ in class as an alternative to Write, they do see a bigger picture and take more care to ensure work is accurate. It allows students to showcase their writing – and more and provide instant connections between parents and school. It allows students to celebrate achievement through a collection of their work. And not just ‘Best Work’ . If done properly a blog can display improvements through early written drafts to final pieces.

If we are to seriously see a 3-18 curriculum as a viable and workable option then Blogs/ e-portfolios need to be our way forward. We can all trace the development of the child throughout their school career with out having to wait to be sent work from previous teacher, previous school. And maybe, just maybe, if we trust learners to use ICT responsibly in schools they may well be allowed to establish real online identities with our assistance rather than doing it themselves under a cloak of anonymity and hidden from adults. Our current policies are doing more damage than good. And arguably not protecting them at all.
Although I used Glow as it was all that was available to me there are other platforms available for this kind of work. Some swear by edmodo – @funky_penguin and @nwinton for a kick off – and that is the one thing I will try when I return to school this week. However I also use , and app which allows me collect evidence of assessment in photographic form as well as video and podcast. Think of the possibilities.

I am not doing anything new or particularly original in my class. This is not new technology. It may changing; it may be developing and improving; but is already out there. And generally for free.

We teachers have only one thing at our disposal and that is our ability to teach the best we can. It is up to us to develop the best lessons for our students to take our teaching foreword. E-portfolios seem to be a great way of celebrating the achievements of our classes as well as providing great assessment material. Let us return to our schools and develop great series of lessons, with blogs and edmodo and three ring or whatever you want to use – and go and knock on doors to get permission to get Blogging started. Knock those doors down if you have to. We have an opportunity here to set real change in motion. Let others say no if they want to. But don’t assume that they will.


Click here for some Blogging Links to get you started

A Landmark Moment – Be a Part of It

As we approach Teachmeet Scottish Learning Fringe 2012, perhaps the biggest day in Pedagoo’s reasonably short history, it is a good time to take stock and reflect on how far we’ve all come. More importantly, however, it is an even better time to consider the potential we have to grow and change. So this is not so much about what pedagoo is but what it could be.

Discussing the Scottish Curriculum with some teachers recently– and I call it that because I will not longer call it Curriculum for Excellence like it was some kind of other ‘thing’ – I am reminded of the old joke about the optimist and the pessimist. The pessimist says ‘Surely things can’t get any worse,’ and the optimist replies ‘Oh yes they can.’ You get the feeling that some people have made up their minds and will never be swayed.  It would be easy to shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Oh well. What can you do?’ Well, an awful lot in my opinion.

As classrooms teachers I always think that the only powerful thing we really have is the ability to teach as best we can. We model good learning for our students and we provide the best experiences possible for them every day we are in school. However, if we truly believe that change is possible, that a new way of doing things is possible then we must step up to the plate and walk the walk. It is no longer enough to dream of change and wish things weren’t like they are now.

I don’t think any of us at Pedagoo would describe ourselves as SuperTeachers. We are not special in that regard. What we do though is provide a platform to have the conversations which you may not be having, or are able to have, in your own staff rooms. We always wanted to provide a place for those voices which may not be heard otherwise. The blog extends that voice somewhat and we hope that it will continue to develop.

Dylan Wiliam states in his book, ‘Embedded Formative Assessment’:

‘Show me a teacher who doesn’t fail every day and I’ll show you a teacher with low expectations for his/her students.’

While there may be something about that which makes us uncomfortable, he’s right of course. Our job is to have a positive impact on the learning of our students.  Undoubtedly we do. But our expectations for their learning should always be just out of their reach. More importantly we all have to truly believe that. We have to believe that our students can always keep learning as much as we learn. We must speak up about the future we want and model good teaching and learning at every opportunity.

What are our expectations for, not of, ourselves? How much can we improve, develop, grow? How often do we, as educators, think of ourselves as learners too? Where I think Pedagoo is special is that it provides a place to have those debates. This Saturday is, I think, a landmark in Scottish education. Hyperbole you may say but I don’t think so. This is a group of educators who, off their own backs – or rather off the great Fearghal Kelly’s back mostly – are organising their own education event. Devoid of free pens and leaflets, corporate frippery, the big sell. We want teachers to talk about teaching and how we can make the new curriculum work for us.

If you’re there I can’t wait to say hello. If not, then please check in to Pedagoo over the next week or two for some Blog Posts which will fill you in on what happened. I’m generally ridiculously, irritatingly optimistic about what we can achieve in Scottish education if we begin to work together. And after next Saturday, I hope to be more so. Surely things can’t get any better. Oh yes they can.


The Best of #PedagooFriday 31-8-12

This week’s choices come form @Vonniemc

The Difficult Second Album

So, for many of us anyway, the summer is over. Back to school. Back to exam results and planning and marking and everything. Back to Pedagoo. Last year saw the first full school year for Pedagoo and it was a great one. The admin team expanded to a fantastic group of people determined to make it work. The blog opened up to many contributors from all educational sectors and beyond. Pedagoo began to receive some wider press publicity. So, where do we go from here?

It would probably be true to say that this time last year no-one really knew how it would pan out. Fearghal certainly had a vision and we all bought into that but there is always the concern that you become a lone voice in education, out of step with the rest of the profession. What did happen, however, was that we discovered that there very much was a place for us and others were looking for that channel to voice their opinions. Pedagoo is beginning to become an important voice in Scotland and this year will be a vital one.

My area of interest of course was Pedagoo Friday. What started as a fairly simple idea after a bad day, late one Thursday night, became an event which often tweets around the world, from Australia to America and many places in between. It changed the focus of our weeks to one of positivity and creativity. Its simplicity merely displays what can be done without much complicated thought. We are doing great things. Let’s share them.

Pedagoo is for all of us. We want to have the conversations which you may not necessarily be having in school. So, get involved, make a plan. Write a blog post about your classroom or something which has been on your mind.

Dylan Wiliam says that: ‘The quality of the teachers is the single most important factor in the education system.’
And, as it says in our ‘mission statement’:

‘If we stand for anything, it is making sure that those we teach are given the best preparation possible for the future. We are interested in ensuring that young people are given every opportunity, every support, and every helping hand as we guide them to master the skills they will need to thrive in an unknowable future.’

We hope you have a great year and your students learn well. Join us here at Pedagoo and tell us all about it.

The best of #pedagoofriday 22nd June 2012

With a certain amount of sadness, here is our selection of the best of PedagooFriday this week. Last big one for a while.

And, because for many of us this will be the last #pedagoofriday before the summer, a few nice ones to finish with:

Have a great summer everyone. PedagooFriday will be back, bigger and stronger and better, in August and we look forward to hearing from you. Thanks so much for your input this year. You are amazing!
Pedagoo admin.