By Teachers, For Teachers
Every teacher knows that students do better with positive reinforcement. As tempting as "Punishment" might sound when referring to that student who has scrambled your last nerve, using consequences of actions in positive terms goes much further toward student success not only in school but in the ongoing effort to build life-long learners. I’ve said, "Positive reinforcement, whether with family, when following laws, or with students, can best be defined as the logical consequences of doing what's right." As an education pedagogy, pursuing a system that revolves around positive reinforcement is called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support, or PBIS. The importance of using technology in the classroom tools that prevent disruptive behavior and support students is explained by NEA Past President Lily Eskelsen Garcia: “The most effective tool teachers have to handle problem behavior is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. PBIS programs help teachers recognize the significance of classroom management and preventive school discipline to maximize student success. PBIS strategies are critical to providing all young people with the best learning environment.” Committed teachers can accomplish this in a variety of ways including supportive words, technology in the classroom, prizes, special activities, certificates, badges, and modeling proper behavior. Here are four online options that support the goal of recognizing students in a positive way:
The free app Class Dojo encourages and rewards positive classroom behavior (like helping others, staying on task, participating in activities, exhibiting persistence, and engaging in teamwork) and discourages negative behavior (such as bullying, disrespect, missing homework, being off task, and talking out of turn). The app works on iOS, Android, desktops, and Kindle Fire and is easy to set up. Teachers create their account, add student names, and then track student behavior against a personalized list. Parents are automatically updated every time the teacher adds a behavior or an announcement. Teachers can share weekly or monthly reports curating class behavior by category or individual student.
90 percent of US K-8 classrooms use Class Dojo. Here are five ways that's happening:
The free initiative Empatico, from The KIND Foundation, has a goal of connecting 1 million students in 25 countries from disparate socioeconomic backgrounds. They believe that the more empathetic children become, the more in tune they are with the needs of their peers, the more they will collaborate and find creative solutions to global problems. Through the website, students broaden their worldview through meaningful interactions with peers across the globe. Teachers are provided everything necessary to make this happen, including lesson plans, materials lists, a video conferencing platform, and more. Activities range from 2-3 hours to 8-12 hours and may often be spread over multiple meetings.
The Empatico website offers four globally-responsive activities your students will enjoy:
Hero K12 is a cloud-based iOS and Android app that helps districts and schools manage student behavior in areas such as reduced classroom disruption, office referrals, and tardiness. Hero supports positive behavior reinforcement programs, allowing teachers and administrators to award points for positive student activity. By rewarding the good things students do every day, schools build not only better student behavior, but a more positive school culture. It helps to identify what's working and what's not, while developing new systems for addressing these. It supports building better student relationships with peers, educators, and parents. It minimizes negative behaviors by emphasizing positive behaviors, providing a tangible way for even fragile students to realize they are good people.
Four ways to use Hero in your classroom:
Sown To Grow is an online student-driven performance tracker that uses the metrics of goal-setting and reflection to assess progress. The expectation is that students learn how to learn by assessing their own educational experiences as a way to determine their best strategies to become lifelong learners. Students set their goals, track their progress, and ultimately see what worked and what didn’t. Because this is student-driven, students care more about their work and doing their best. For example, if notetaking worked well as a method of achieving goals in one instance, they can transfer that successful experience to other academic endeavors.
Here are great ways to use Sown to Grow in your classes:
These are four programs to measure, encourage, and provide opportunities for students to show their positive behaviors. What may surprise them is how much a forward-thinking attitude impacts success in all parts of their lives.
For more on PBIS, visit the Department of Educations PBIS website.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over 100 ed-tech resources, including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in ed-tech, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on ed-tech topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.