Fifth graders win global contest

Tomlin students are tops in ClassDojo's Ultimate Dream School Competition

Courtesy of Christine Trampe
J. Mason Tomlin fifth grade teacher Ed Pietrzak stands with his students, who beat competitors in 16,000 schools.

Students from Ed Pietrzak’s fifth grade class at J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School have won ClassDojo’s Ultimate Dream School Competition, a contest that involved about 16,000 schools, according to Superintendent Christine Trampe.

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ClassDojo is a website that enables students and parents to better connect with teachers through communication features. The Ultimate Dream School Competition challenged students to brainstorm, collaborate and problem solve in order to design and construct their own dream school in the website’s Dojo Islands, a digital space where students can interact and help build their very own island together. Only verified students can access the space.

“The winning class wins the honor of working with the ClassDojo team to help build the next evolution of the Dojo Islands world,” Pietrzak explained. “ClassDojo sent out an email to all schools offering the challenge for anyone to enter. I spoke to my homeroom about the challenge and every single one of my students wanted to enter. This was the first ever global challenge that ClassDojo has created to my knowledge.

“I started the whole process by using my STEM lessons with the engineering design process on brainstorming and collaboration,” he added. “I reviewed strategies and techniques for them to communicate their ideas to each other effectively. After weeks of revising, I recorded my reaction seeing the final product and submitted the video by posting on X (formerly Twitter) with their hashtag.”

When news came that the class had won the competition, the students, according to Pietrzak, were surprised at besting so many other classrooms.

“I recorded them when I made the announcement,” he noted. “The majority of them were in shock. I think it is still sinking in for many of them. I turned the announcement into a math lesson, because the numbers were so impressive; 16,000 classrooms entered, which means they beat close to 400,000 students if each of those classes had 25 students.”

Pietrzak’s students were scheduled to meet this week with the ClassDojo team to discuss the ideas they have for the Dojo Islands. Whatever they discuss, it will become a permanent addition to the experience.

The school board plans to honor the Tomlin class at its Monday, Dec. 18 meeting. Pietrzak, the students and their families are invited to attend.

Pietrzak stated that when ClassDojo runs another competition, his students will be game.

” … My students can’t wait for these new challenges,” he said. “I was beyond impressed with the students’ innovative ideas, and their teamwork was amazing.”

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