In my class we use a behavior system called Class Dojo. It's a free app that is on my phone and a website on my computer that tracks student behaviors. Students get positive points for exhibiting good behaviors and modeling our character traits. They get negative points if they break rules. I really try to focus on the positive side of it because it has really caused us to focus on our character traits this year. The whole class can get points at the same time, too, so they really work together to get Dojo points.
Class Dojo is also awesome because it keeps me connected to parents. If parents choose to sign up, they are automatically connected to their child's Dojo "monster" and they can see the behaviors that their child is exhibiting. All but four sets of my parents signed up this year, and we communicate often through this app. We can send messages like texts or emails through the app. I also use it as a mini Facebook. I have a student who isn't allowed to be posted on Facebook, but she can be on Class Dojo so I post all of her pics there. All of our class pics that the entire Facebook world doesn't get to see, my Class Dojo families get to see. I post all individual pics on Class Dojo so the parents can see more of their kids' activities.
I also use Class Dojo as a way to send another copy of a calendar or a note that a student may have lost. I just attach a note and send it out to the families. Or I take a pic of the school calendar and everyone has a copy on their phone. It's really been very handy for the parents that have decided to use it. It's my first year using it, so next year I'm going to try for 100% participation of my parents.
As the school year is winding down, we have to be more creative in our ways to keep students engaged. Several teachers in my building are using an A-Z activity a day which I think is brilliant. When you get to Z, the school year is over. I started a little too late to try that one, so I'm doing a "Mrs. Musgrave's Surprise of the Day." Students can't lose Dojo points to receive this surprise of the day. The surprises range from a book out of the book order to Smarties to a lesson outside. Some days are better than others, but they don't care! A surprise is a surprise! What I'm amazed to watch is how they have decided to work together to receive their prizes.
One day was "Doughnut Day." Two of my students started arguing over who was going to be first in line. (That's a big deal in first grade. Don't ask me why. There is no special prize for that.) I walked up and said, "No doughnuts for you if you don't figure out your problem right now." They rock, paper, scissored and figured out their problem within seconds. No fighting. No tears. I like to think that Mrs. Musgrave's character lessons using Class Dojo are finally sinking in. The doughnuts didn't hurt.