Tuesday, 18 June 2013

This is how we roll (out)

Happy Girls photo by @klbeasley
This is the third rotation of handing out laptops to our families. Our process has evolved quite a bit from it's inception in August 2011. Here are is an outline of what we do, why we do it, and how it's working.

Context: We are an independent international school with around 4,000 students across two campuses. Our students in grades 6-12 use a school-provided MacBook for the purpose of enhancing their learning.

Collaboration: This process is a true collaboration in every sense of the word and we're not claiming to have invented anything brand new. We'd specifically like to acknowledge the collaboration with our friends at Singapore American School and with Robyn Treyvaud. 

Overview: (Grade 5 moving to Grade 6)
- families attend "Growing up Digital" session together
- students participate in the "Eggcellent Adventure"
- families attend and "Out of the Box" session where they get their laptops
-student mentored by Grade 8 students
-support and learning in Mentor classes
-tools/techniques taught in academic classes
-parent sessions 

All in the Family: though some of our students already have access to their own technology, for some this is the first time the child has had a laptop of their own. We take care to help families establish a positive environment for digital media and laptop use in the home. 
We begin the process before the tool is even in the hands of the family by requiring parents and students to attend a "Growing up Digital" session where we scaffold a discussion between the parents and student around our Family Media Agreement. The understanding is that this document will be living and evolving as needed starting with a few agreements based on "pressure points" like time limits, where the laptop will be used, and expectations around completing homework.
It's important to note that this is a family agreement. There are considerations for all members of the family because modeling attentive behavior is really important.

Eggcellently Dressed
Proper care and feeding of the laptop is reinforced by students completing the "Eggcellent Adventure" where they carry a blown-out egg shell around for a week. Through this process they learn to be responsible for a fragile object and, should it break, they need to see a number of people like Heads of Grade, IT Support, Vice Principals, and the Digital Literacy Coach for a short chat and their signature on an "Insurance Claim report."
Read my daughter's account of the process and learning from the experience.

Next, we bring the family back in to collect their signed technology agreement forms, hand over their new laptop, and walk them through a presentation on points related to caring for and use of the laptop including common causes of damage, healthy use tips, warranty and insurance coverage, initial set-up of accounts, and some apps to help avoid distraction.

We round out the week with a mentoring session where Grade 8 students talk with the Grade 5s about peaks, pitfalls, and protips related to learning with the laptop. These tips were created by the students when challenged with the task of explaining the important points students with new laptops might need to know.

Ongoing support is given to students both during their mentor sessions when the new school year begins and in their other academic classes. Students are guided through the process of organizing their files and calendars, collaborating, communicating, setting up a reflective portfolio, and practicing our core values both online and in person. 

Again, we were fortunate to have so much support from a broad community of educators when setting up our process. We hope you find this useful and share with us any feedback if you've been through this process as a student or parent to make it even better.

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