The poem never brought home. The science experiment that must get cleaned up at school. So much of what a student creates never leaves the classroom; parents aren’t able to share in the discovery, the work or the success.
ClassDojo announced today it hopes to change all that by adding Student Stories to its app, a new way for students to upload photos and videos of classwork to their digital portfolio that parents can then view.
“Parents don't get to see all the great work a kid is doing,” Liam Don, co-founder and chief product officer at ClassDojo, tells The 74. “Kids get to share homework, but not the exciting stuff. The science project or the poem, that is the exciting part.”
Don hopes by sharing more classroom work with the out-of-class parents, the dinner table conversations and interactions surrounding student learning will increase.
Stephanie Smith, a fourth grade teacher at Roy Waldron School in Tennessee, tells The 74 that Student Stories will also allow students to catalog and take pride in their work throughout the year. “I’m a big believer in reflection,” she says, “so for them to be able to see the evolution of their work is exciting. I’m hoping by them having the ability to reflect, they will develop a strong growth mindset that will continue with them in the future.”
Currently ClassDojo offers School Story and Class Story, ways for school administrators and teachers to send information and visuals to parents. “The majority of our parents work multiple jobs and cannot always come to parent nights or conferences,” Smith says. “Having the ability to share what we do within our walls helps us bridge that gap and build a stronger sense of community.”
The quick communication can share where the class is — whether on a field trip or locked in a difficult math problem in the classroom. While Don says they’ve already enjoyed great success since launching in 2011, expanding to two-thirds of all U.S. schools and 90 percent of all U.S. school districts, with a focus on K-8 classrooms, the interactions with StudentStory can take the conversations to a more intimate level.
“Teachers were already able to share things, but most of the stuff they were sharing was general class stuff,” he says. “That was nice, but parents wanted to know about my kid and what exactly did my kid do. This is the latest step in building upon the experience.”
“The door to my classroom will be open as usual, but with a twist because now my students will be able to communicate with their parents as well,” says Cindy Price, a first grade teacher in Delaware. She says that already she uses ClassDojo to reinforce social skills and communicate with parents, but the new aspect will “increase and heighten my students’ self-confidence and will give them a sense of pride in their work.”
In the classroom, teachers can use individual or class-wide devices, such as an iPad, to allow students to take photos or videos of work. Using a QR code, students can then access ClassDojo without a password to submit a post. At the end of a lesson—or the end of the class day—teachers can scroll through the posts to approve them and send them through to parents, who are able to see only their own student’s work, but still access all that was available through School Story and Class Story.
“Toward the end of a phase, teachers can pass around an iPad and say ‘let’s all take a photo,’” Dom says. Students can add notes to it, creating an additional time of reflection.
“In one of the very first classrooms we were testing in, we took a video and we were able to see how excited the kids got to share and it got us thinking we are onto something here,” he says. “We then posted the idea online with our teacher test group and they were excited about more of a student-centric experience.”
“I like getting my own story to add my own photos to because then my mom and my dad see it and we can talk about it at home,” says Galen, a second grader in Audrey So’s class in San Francisco.
“ClassDojo has already made me feel more connected to my daughter’s education than ever before,” says Clarissa Miles, whose daughter, Caraline, is a fifth grader in Tennessee. “Now, seeing her ‘Story’ helps us have amazing conversations at home about what she did at school. Those conversations are the best part of my day, and they’ve brought me, Caraline and her teacher closer together. For the first time, I feel like we’re part of the same team.”
Smith says parents will welcome the heightened interaction when it fully rolls out this autumn. “I, personally, have yet to encounter a parent that did not love it,” she says. “They enjoy the quick communication between parent, teacher and student, being able to see what we're doing in class and the behaviors we are striving to achieve.”
From poems to science projects, ClassDojo wants to let a student tell their classroom story. And now they plan to let them do it digitally.