A little over a week ago, I tweeted about witnessing fearless teaching and learning à la #transtech. I want to unpack that tweet. Lay bare the fearlessness. And, with new insights from Char Booth’s very readable Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning, figure out why it felt so right (2011). In the process, I’ve discovered I have quite a bit to say! So I’m going to take two whacks at it. Today’s post will be background.
Let’s call it: ORIENTATION DAY – The Big Re-Think
I saw fearless teaching and learning in action at our high school’s Orientation Day on August 23rd. To fathom why it captured my attention, it is important to understand that our student orientation is very different from what it was in the years before the launch of our 1:1 laptop program in 2011.
Before: Orientation Day in the Pre-Laptop Years
Orientation Day used to be the time to teach new students how to find, log in, and use various technologies. Booth’s “Curse of Knowledge” syndrome was rampant then (2011, p. 4). As many tasks as possible were crammed into a tight timeframe, resulting in a whirlwind of hurried and hectic large group and one-on-one interactions of the “Do this! Do that! Go here! Go there!” variety of direct instruction. Among the many casualties of this approach was meaningful discussion of the acceptable use of technology. Instead, students were given a written contract to sign about proper technology use and, with that, a tacit understanding was assumed by all parties — students, faculty and administration alike.
After: Orientation Day Post-Laptop Program Launch
Our adoption of a 1:1 laptop program over a year ago prompted a re-examination of Orientation Day. Two truths persisted:
- Students need to be ready to learn with all of the same navigational instruction and login set-ups we’d always done in the past, as well as uniform software and add-ons for their laptops.
- Students need an understanding of our Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement, also known as AUA. The move to one-to-one laptop program highlighted the opportunity and the responsibility inherent in personal computer use at school.
In the months before the launch of the laptop program, a group of students and faculty crafted a more detailed and up-to-date set of guiding principles about what ethical and responsible computer use should look like in our high school. That code of conduct is our AUA, or Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement.
The central question was how to satisfy these two truths in a meaningful way in the finite hours of Orientation Day.
Our Instructional Technology Coach, Glenda Baker, and our Information Technology Assistant, Ritu Java, set to work to totally redefine and refine Orientation Day, by streamlining the administrative tasks and truly engaging students around the overarching, and more complex, piece of our Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement.
Their first smart decision was to flip the many tasks that had formerly occupied the precious few hours of orientation day. Any task that could be moved to a screencast tutorial format was flipped to a self-directed online activity that students were to accomplish before Orientation Day. This shift “chunked” content into bits that students could bite off over a comfortable timeframe, more in line with their “working memory capacity” (Booth, 2011, p. 43-44, 56-57). It took advantage of every student’s intrinsic motivation to be ready for school (Booth, 2011, p. 45).
And, it liberated Orientation Day 2012 for a focus on our Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement.
In Part II of this blog entry, I’ll lay out the learning activity of Orientation Day 2012 and highlight the fearless teaching and learning that went on there. Read on!
Booth, C. (2011). Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.