New discipline program in use at Purdy schools

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Purdy Elementary Principal Julie Dalton shows school board members the online presentation for ClassDojo, each teacher having a unique icon, and each student in the class listed under that, providing a location to tally rewards for good behavior. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

ClassDojo offers instant gratification, tracking

Administrators in the Purdy school district report successes in their new emphasis on positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), where staff focuses on positive achievements rather than consistently doling out punishment for misbehavior.

Julie Dalton, elementary principal, described the new use of ClassDojo, a computer-based program where teachers can reward students throughout the day.

“Kids need instant gratification,” Dalton said.

The system allows Dalton to track each student from a computer screen, each child identified by teacher and an icon. If any teacher sees a child acting exceptionally, such as being courteous in a hallway or a lunch, reward points may be offered. If Dalton sees a problem, she can add a note on how the student can improve.

A new voice matrix has been established, giving students a measure for voice from zero (silence) to a four for an outdoor voice. Within a few weeks, use of the volume measure has become universally understood. Children can respond if asked what level they are using and adjust accordingly.

“Use of the language has taken off,” Superintendent Stephen Chancellor reported.

“Kids are taking ownership,” Dalton said. “Using the same language throughout the school is key, so you don’t have different teachers giving different instructions. At the elementary school, it’s more basic. They will understand better by the time students hit high school.

“[The program] can show positives and negatives, so we can give real time responses. If it’s a negative, it has a time stamp and has an explanation. We can look at the data and ask, why was there a problem then? In those circumstances, we can discuss what to do instead with the teacher.”

Students can see their progress on their own devices. In the classroom, each of the 36 teachers can give points for class work, or behaviors individually or in groups. Parents can also log in and see their child’s progress.

The effort culminates each quarter in a “Big Event,” where students with notations that are 85 percent positive are enable to attend a reward function, such as a trip to the Monett Area YMCA planned for Oct. 13. Students who fall short can receive special instruction that day re-teaching specific lessons.

At the high school, Principal Derek Banwart said the strategy sticks more to traditional points, rewarding behavior at school events and outdoors. Rather than using emojis for each student online, the high school system is still under development, he said.

Banwart said the strategy would offer Black and Gold Days toward the end of the month in lieu of intervention time, usually on the last Friday of the month. During four hours of meeting times, students may move into groups or club sessions. Those needing help will go to classes for re-teaching time. Each semester will have a reward.

Banwart is offering students instruction on specific topics, such as digital citizenship, three times during the year, two stations each month. Expectations are spelled out, rather than assumed. Students are instructed to walk on the right side of the hall, for example, or reminded not to use cell phones. He noted when students receive detentions, they know what they have done.

Banwart expects to see major changes in statistics for discipline. So far this year, he has had eight students earning detentions, culminating in five in-school suspensions and one out-of-school suspension.

“I wish we had thought of this before,” Chancellor said. “No one is standing around in riot gear forcing students to do things. You don’t see students yelling and screaming and hitting ceiling tiles. We’re not running a prison. We communicated up front what we want to see. We know everything has a consequence. It takes a choice. You are in control of you. It’s been a good program.”

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: