We have looked at OTFC’s top 10 resources, however in this modern age, mobile and tablet devices are such a used resource, it make sense to look at some great apps too! Given the vast quantity of apps out there, we thought an extended the list from the Top 10 to Top 20 was more realistic! We will aim to discuss a number of different apps, and how they can have a role in different settings (e.g. school, home, therapy).
The first app we are going to discuss is one that may be familiar with many teachers, parents and students!
The App: ClassDojo
Compatibility: Android and iOS (however can also be accessed on computers and Smart Boards)
Price: Free (with in app purchases available, if desired)
Class Dojo is essentially a modern day classroom management tool, which covers positive behaviour management, rewards for effort and encouragers increased positive feedback and reinforcement and parent communication. The app allows teachers to list all the students in the class, assign them a name, avatar and link their profile with their parent’s email – for updates on classroom success.
One of the particularly useful tools of this app is the instant communication that can be provided between teachers and parents. Particularly for parents who may be very busy and don’t always get the chance to discuss the classroom progress of their child with the teacher, the app can provide real time updates and ‘rewards’ for the way a child has engaged in class. While the app can provide whole class feedback, there is also the option to give specific feedback to an individual child. This also includes the option of leaving a specific comment (e.g “I really liked the way you let Matthew have a turn in that game”), which further encourages specific and individualised praise. The consistency it affords can allow parents and carers to continue similar positive behaviour approaches at home and in the community.
Another benefit is the highly visualised nature of the program. Even children with difficulties in reading and literacy can still follow the colours and symbols used to identify positive behaviour and rewards. The app is also linked to the Class Dojo website which supports customisation of positive behaviour symbols (8 in total) and negative behaviour symbols (4 in total). The text/description of these symbols can be edited to suit individual needs, and you can add your own behaviours, however, at the moment there is no option to add/modify your own symbols.
From an OT perspective, the App can be well aligned with encouraging and rewarding sensory regulation in the school. Children using sensory diets, regular movement breaks or other sensory regulation ideas in class, can also be rewarded for their ability to continuously adopt the strategies. Moreover, adoption of regulation strategies will further assist positive behaviour, due to the impact of movement on increasing attention and regulation. Teacher’s can also use ‘whole class’ movement breaks and reward participation and hard work during these, providing regulation and positive reinforcement at the same time.
One aspect of the app that is a little negative is the ‘Needs work’ section, which highlights the areas that a child has found more challenging during class time. This includes, being unprepared, talking out of turn and being off task. While it is important to discuss areas of difficulty in class, at OTFC, we often see children who may experience these difficulties in class, and often they are not ‘deliberate’ attempts to disrupt the class. From our perspective, it is always important to ensure all available supports and resources are in place for each child, so that they can have the best chance of experiencing success and positive reinforcement, through use of the app.
Another concern is the open nature of the reward system. There needs to be sensitivity for all children, so that those that may not be receiving as many positive rewards, are not feeling bad about this. An effective way to tackle this is to have ‘table groups’ as a collective reward system (i.e. rather than individual children receiving praise, the ‘table’ receives this). Therefore, individuals on that table will work together to receive points.
ClassDojo, despite some limitations, is one of the most effective apps available for providing an engaging and effective class reward/positive behaviour system. For many teachers behaviour modification can be a large area of difficulty, and the app gives consistency and novelty for rewarding positive behaviour and effort, and allows sharing with parents and customisation to suit students and teacher’s needs. The app is very easy to use and navigate and highly motivating for all children. From our experiences of what some parents and teachers have stated, there has been very good adoption by students and that the open communication is very effective.
If you have used the app in your class, or are a parent who as experienced the app being used in a classroom, please feel free to leave a comment below!
*Note: OTFC has not received any royalties for endorsing this app or product