Software Review Part I: Kickboard
Guest Post by Andrew from Match Next
Here’s an antidote to a dull dinner party: ask a teacher how their behavior management system works. Specifically, ask them how they record all of the consequences for each student.
Actually, this might only get interesting for people who work in schools like ours that issue school-wide ‘merits’ and ‘demerits.’ Here’s what many of my friends have said (with some less-than-savory adjectives removed): One described an Excel doc that only one person at a time could add things to. Another talked about individual kids carrying around their own pieces of paper. Another talked about a front-desk employee who spent 3-4 hours each day logging items. Another talked about an Excel sheet so complicated, they had to hire an outside firm to make it. And another talked about an Excel sheet they built themselves, but was irreparably destroyed when someone accidentally messed up some of the formulas. I’d love to see a study of the percent of rewards and consequences issued that never actually get logged. I’ll bet it’d be scary-high.
Here’s our solution for streamlining this and getting everyone the info they need to do their jobs better:
What is Kickboard?
It’s a website used by teachers for two different things:
a) tracking behavior (by streamlining merit/demerit/points/school bucks/etc logging)
b) recording grades
We use this across all our schools, Pre-K to 12th grade. We’re also using it here at Match Next, our blended learning pilot. We’ve chosen to use both the academic and behavioral features, but schools can choose whether they want to use both pieces of the program or just stick to one - it’s totally up to the teacher/school.
Today, I’ll just review the classroom management piece of the program. Next time, I’ll explain how Kickboard’s ‘gradebook’ works.
So how do we rate the ‘classroom management’ feature?
I’d give it an 8 out of 10. If you’re a school that has a crazy consequence/behavior tracking system, you should consider using this.
It’s super easy to use. Plus, it’s flexible to the various little quirks of our behavior management system. With a little tinkering, we were able to customize the program for our school’s rules. Most importantly, Kickboard simplifies communication between staff by letting teachers see what behaviors (positive or negative) students have been given, and which adults assigned those behaviors as well.
Overall, Kickboard is great and doesn’t have any fundamental problems. But there’re lots of small issues that can make it a little cumbersome:
1. It needs a quick ‘undo’ button, like the feature Gmail has to ‘Unsend’ e-mails.
2. The ‘analysis’ page where you supposedly go to analyze school or grade-wide trends could be a little more helpful.
3. There needs to be an ‘attendance’ feature so I can hide kids who aren’t here.
How it works
Logging is easy. Here’s what the ‘Daily Activity’ page looks like (where you input behaviors):
(btw, the Daily Activity page doesn’t usually look like this. I blurred out all the students’ names)
1. First, select the student you want to log a behavior for. You can select a single student, or multiple students if you want to assign the same behavior to several at once. You can even select the entire class if you want.
2. Choose the behavior you want to give the student(s). Once you select the student, then the behavior, the behavior will automatically get logged for the student(s).
3. You can choose the behavior either from the ‘dropdown menu,’ or using one of the ‘Quick Buttons.’ The dropdown menu is a list of all the possible behaviors you can assign. The ‘Quick Buttons’ are the buttons that are off to the side, and are the most common behaviors you use. It’s up to you whether you want to make a particular behavior a quick button.
Here’s an example of a school-wide analysis you might do:
This page lets you look at behavior trends. On the specific picture above, I’m looking at the ‘School’ view, and it’s showing me the number of behaviors logged for all 4th graders each month, by all the staff. It doesn’t show anything more specific than that (more on this in the ‘Problems’ section below).
You can also view the behavior information by group, by teacher, and by student. Kickboard explains these really well here.
The analysis can be helpful for seeing which kids are receiving which behaviors, and how many of those behaviors are good or bad. If I notice that Johnny hasn’t gotten a merit in a few days, I can tell his teacher or tutor, who’ll then go back and be on the lookout for something positive he does in class or tutorial. On the flipside, I can see if Timmy gets a ton of demerits in one particular class or part of the day, then I can gameplan around seeing how to make those classes or parts of the day better for him.
Kickboard also lets you show students and parents their behavior information. There’s a student and parent portal (which we haven’t used yet), but you can print sheets called ‘Character Reports’ that’re basically a printout of how many points the kid has, and the specific behaviors that resulted in those points. Here’s an example of a Character Report:
We show students their reports every day. In some extreme cases, we’ll go through a student’s report with them and work with them to figure out the times of the day that’re the toughest for them.
Creating your culture system
Kickboard is very customizable. It’s able to take into account many of the small quirks in a school’s behavior system. Here’s the page where schools can add ‘behaviors’ and ‘behavior categories’:
In this section, you can create ‘categories’ of behaviors and ‘behaviors.’ When I say ‘category’ of behavior, I mean something like, ‘Professionalism,’ and a behavior under this category could be something like, ‘Chewing gum.’ Schools can add as many of these categories and behaviors as they want.
You can also assign a point value to each behavior. These values can either be positive, negative, or 0, depending on what you’re creating. Positive points for stars, negative points for checks, etc. You can instantly see the number of points a student has on a given day by looking next to their name on the Daily Activity page. If you want to see the total number of points over the course of a month, week, or year, you can go to the ‘Leaderboard’ page and adjust for the date range you care about. Here’s what the Leaderboard looks like for the 4th grade for the entire school year:
Problems with the program
Overall, the program is great. It does most of the things we want it to do. But it has a bunch of little issues, in each of the different pieces of the program.
1. There needs to be an ‘undo’ button. If someone assigns the wrong behavior to a student, or a bunch of students, they should be able to just ‘undo’ it with one click. This has been the #1 request from all our teachers and tutors.
Assigning one or a couple wrong behaviors isn’t a huge deal, though, because you can delete these by clicking the ‘X’ next to behavior that was assigned. Here’s what that looks like:
If you accidentally assign a ton of wrong behaviors, then you need to go to the ‘Analysis’ page and do it from there. You can select all the behaviors you want to delete (en masse), then trash ‘em. Here’s what that page looks like:
2. There needs to be an attendance feature that lets you avoid accidentally logging a behavior for an absent student. We generally have at least one student absent from school or tardy to a class, and we don’t want to log any behaviors for that kid. If you decide to ‘Select All,’ though, you then have to deselect the absent kid. This is just another little annoying step to remember.
These have been super helpful for us this year. The one annoyance, though, is that if you’ve got too many behaviors logged for one kid, it doesn’t print on just one sheet. This makes it impossible to print on both sides, so you have to print the character reports single-sided. I’ve seen other competitor programs that can do this better.
The Analysis page gives us some good basic information we want, but to really analyze it in the most helpful ways, we end up having to export the data into an Excel sheet and crunch the numbers ourselves.
For example, one thing I wish I could do was see, on one screen, the specific behaviors a teacher logged for a specific student. If I want to see all the behaviors Ray has logged just for Jimmy, I can’t. I can see how many checks and stars Jimmy’s earned, but can’t parse out details of what types of checks, who assigned them, etc. I’d love to select the teacher (Ray), the kid (Jimmy), then exactly which behaviors were assigned to Jimmy by Ray.
*You can sort of see these things from the student’s character report, but all the behaviors from other staff gets mixed in as well.
Next time: I’ll describe Kickboard’s academic analytics.
if you want to talk shop: firstname.lastname@example.org