We learned about the basics of typing and saving documents, and the “new basics” of Prezi, Animoto, Glogster, and others. We learned about ways to use cell phones as educational tools. We learned about staying safe on the internet. We learned about cyber bullying and bullying. We learned that the internet is a real place, and that there are cords under the ocean connecting us. We experienced a day without cell phones. (Or, for the truly attached, one period without cell phones). It was time to graduate.
Tamara and I started by giving students Technology License Production. They chose which group they wanted to be a part of and we held quick “interviews” to choose the best fit for each student. They took two days to work on everything. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but it actually went really well! The “Examiners” wrote tests that the students all had to pass in order to get their license. The “License Presenters” made sparkly invitations for the principal, vice-principal, and some of their other teachers. The “Work Force” got supplies for all other groups, and jumped in to help when a group member was missing. “Human Resources” made a performance report and assessed all the other students. The “License Designers” came up with really sleek-looking business cards:
Students wrote their names on their license, and then I laminated them (for added authenticity). At the Graduation Ceremony, Tamara and I sat back and watched as students on the “License Presenter” committee made their opening remarks and then called each student up to receive their license. For period two, our vice-principal handed out the licenses and posed for pictures with the students while we played the ‘graduation music.’
The students were beaming. Each and every one of them got up and received their license, and sat down with a smile on their faces. I think they felt like they had really accomplished something. In the reflections they wrote about the process, most of them expressed that they enjoyed having a real graduation ceremony.
While I was floating on the “they actually learned something” cloud, Monday came and ruined it all with two students using their phones to text. While I was teaching. That breaks rule #1. And #4. I know, you’re shocked. After all of that learning, and having a graduation ceremony, and receiving their official laminated license with the rules and responsibilities on it, and getting their picture taken with the vice-principal, and signing a contract, they broke a rule! So, here’s how we are handling that: any time students are caught abusing technology, we punch a hole in their license. Three holes punched, and they lose the privilege of using technology, which includes school computers and iPads. They will also have to relinquish their phone to the teacher at the start of class, or leave it in their locker. They have until Christmas break as their “probation period”, in which they can still have their license and/or technology taken away, but we won’t punch holes in their license. If students make it to the end of the year with no holes punched, they will get a prize! They asked what the prize is…..we told them it was a surprise, but the truth is that we don’t know yet! It depends how many students make it. If there are 30 of them, then we might have a movie day with treats or something. But if there’s only one or two, then I’d take them out for lunch. But I suppose they would see that as more of a punishment…..so perhaps a voucher will have to do.