WILLIAMSVILLE, NY - Teachers across Western New York are finding new ways to integrate technology into the classroom to not only help students learn, but also help parents stay involved. Of course, there's an app for that.
Almost every kid has a cell phone these days. So instead of fighting it, teachers are learning to work with it, and using technology to get kids excited to learn.
The 8th graders in Heather Hornung's class at Casey Middle School in Williamsville are now using something called the Class Dojo App to manage class behavior and increase class participation. It's all based on points that the teacher can reward or deduct during class.
"The categories that we have that we're looking at are teamwork, asking a good question, if they're prepared, having a positive attitude, and providing an insightful answer. For the other behaviors we have if they're off task, not using time wisely, being disrespectful, talking out of turn, or being distracted," said Mrs. Hornung.
The points the students earn determine their class participation grade at the end of the semester. Students and their parents can download the free app and check their grade daily.
"You don't get punished. You don't get in trouble. You just learn from your mistakes and always get better," said 8th grade student Matthew Welch.
Class Dojo creates healthy competition among students. They even get to create their own avatars, making it seem more like a video game than a teaching tool.
"It's fun. It's a new and inviting way to see how well you do in class," said 8th grader Megan Doner.
And with this app, parents no longer need to wait for a report card or parent-teacher conference day to stay involved.
"This is another excellent communication tool for the parents and it's instant feedback right away to have good conversations with the students and also the parents can contact me with any questions."
The app is also being used by 2nd graders at Herbert Hoover Elementary in Ken-Ton, and 3rd graders in Allegany-Limestone school district, just to name a few.