TeacherKit

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TeachersKit is a free classroom management application available on the Apple Store, Windows store and newly on the Play Store.  It exists in several languages, including English and French.  It is possible for teachers to add all their different classes that they have and all the students in those groups. Information about students and parents that can be entered is the same: name, email and Skype. The difference for students is that it is possible to upload a picture. You can send emails quickly to either students or parents: you only have to click on the name/image of the student and choose the little envelop sign. To create a new lesson it is very simple, you can either go directly in the calendar or find the date, or simply click on ”Start a new lesson” where you can pick the date, name the lesson and add a description. A seating plan, when all the students are entered, is also available. There is, if ever necessary an upgradable version for 2.99$.

When you click on the name/image of the student, all the different information on the student appear: email, Skype, attendance records, behaviors and grades. There are different types of behavior: good and bad. In the good, that gives one point each to students are for example: good progress, homework done on time, general attitude. For the bad, there is: chatty, fighting and also general attitude. In both categories, it is possible to custom them and invent new ones. It is possible to have the seating plan opened on the Ipad and see who is absent and who is there.

A useful option available on this App is the calendar, where the teacher can schedule all the activities, quizzes and have alerts. It is simple to change the events on the calendar. It is fast to collect information on students related to homework and attendance, such as stated on Profsabroad: ”it’s by far the most useful free app available for teachers” . Another useful option is that there is a place to take notes, to write different things that you don’t want to forget for the next classes, same as a cellphone note application. An advantage is that you can link your Drop Box account to the App, so you can upload documents that were done before or new ones. Another positive aspect is that if the teacher has a child at home who is allowed to play with the cell phone, it is possible to create a password when opening the App. The fact that it is available on tablets, the teacher can carry it around, like they would normally do with a sheet, and fill out who did and who didn’t do their homework. There is also an online blog on the website that presents this tool, where people can comment and ask questions, the company seems to answer rapidly.

If we compare it to Class Dojo, which is also a class management program, it is useful only for teachers. Students do not get to interact, see their points and results. The teacher cannot use this to motivate students to do their homework or have a positive engagement towards the class. Both parents and teachers cannot see progress in class. Since this application is only available for Smartphone’s and Windows 8, which not all school computers have, not everybody can use this class management tool. I myself uploaded that application first on a friend’s phone because it wasn’t on the Play Store, but since know it is available on the Play Store, I downloaded it. But, when logging in with the account that I had created on the Iphone, none of my information was kept, which is not very useful. If the teacher changes cell phone in the middle of the year and changes from Android to Iphone, the teacher loses all the grades and information. This might change later; we can give them a chance to modify this since it has just been created for Androids. Because of this, I would be afraid to lose data, as journalistina agrees: ”Another fear maybe losing all the data through app crashes etc”

Personally, at first I liked the simple interface, but I played with it a couple of times, and I do not think I would use this application as a classroom management tool. It has a very simple interface, but doesn’t seem to be as fun as using something like Class Dojo, where students can interact with the application. I thought I would have been more impressed by this application. Having to use technologies in class with students, I would prefer getting them to interact with it.

Class Dojo

Class Dojo is a free class management website for teachers. It is available in different languages, including English, making it a very useful tool for ESL teachers.You can add all your students; take the attendance take note of who made their homework and those who didn’t. The teacher enters all the students’ name that automatically gives them a little avatar. Considering the fact that most teachers have more than one class to teach to, the website allows you to create more than one ”classroom” linked to your account. Parents and students can also create an account on the website and be linked with the classroom with the use of an access code given by the teacher. Not everybody can join a specific classroom; the teacher must invite them via email.

The teacher can easily keep the website open during the whole class with the use of a projector or Smart Board©. There is also an application available both for phones and tablets, on either the Android or Apple software. The app allows the teacher to control the tool from anywhere in the class. By doing so, there is a timer option that can be used in order to time the students during an activity and they can also see how much time they have left. It is possible to give or take off points depending on what students do. For example, if they have a good attitude, if they help each other, if they participate, etc.

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I created myself an account as a teacher. It was fast, simple and efficient. I was able to add students by simply entering their names. I was able to create a fictive classroom with a few students in it. I was able to award or deduct points to either one or to a group of students. It was possible to add our own categories of behaviours, whether positive or negative.

The disadvantages are that it can probably work with students in elementary but not secondary school. The little avatars being in the shape of monsters make the tool look a little childish for high school students. The fact that it can be displayed on the board at all time can be both a source of advantages and of disadvantages. On the positive side, it can motivate students to do their homework because everyone can see who is losing points if they did not do their homework or have misbehaved. On the other side, some students may feel uncomfortable with this situation. Another slight inconvenient of the website is that you can only display your students’ avatar in alphabetical order. It could be interesting if we could play around and place them the same way as they are seated in the classroom. As stated on It’s About Learning ”Class Dojo is a way of manipulating behaviour and all of the research,” it is true that it is seen negative to manipulate behaviour.”

The website has many advantages. It is very easy to take attendance with the website. For elementary students, the website is motivating and amusing. They can all have a different and colourful avatar for themselves without having their face shown on the board. Instead of using a different email account, the website gives an easy mean of communication by allowing the teacher to write messages to the parents and/or to the students directly from the website. Another advantage is that the parents can follow their child’s progress through the website. The teacher does not have to send paper messages to the parents on grades or activities. It is a very good website in order to contact teachers, as sais on A Parent’s Review of ClassDojo ”Ideally, ClassDojo can tighten the feedback loop between teacher, student, and parent.”

I would personally use this website in my ESL courses because it is very simple to use and very useful. I think that it can save papers, meaning that it is possible to take the attendance on it and take note of when the students’ homework is done. I also like the fact that it is possible to put the website in any languages and permit students to see how they are doing in the class.