Year 9 DER Day

Four weeks ago Year 9 at our school received their lenovo netbooks. There was much excitement from the students and – remarkably – little anxiety and resistance from the teachers. A culture shift has occurred – teachers are beginning to accept the presence of technology in their classrooms – and they are even starting to embrace it a little.

Before the netbooks were issued all Year 9 students and parents attended a meeting in the evening to discuss the care and responsibility that must be taken with the machines. Parents were informed of the possible costs due to breakages and the situations in which the netbooks may be taken from the students. It was a nice quick meeting – less than an hour and at the end all students and parents signed the contract ensuring they understood their rights/responsibilities etc.

Following these formalities the students were commissioned their netbooks the very next day. A great bunch of teachers and the school’s TSO facilitated this time-consuming process. The commissioning ran so smoothly – barely a complaint from a teacher, student or parent!

And then I stepped in for a little bit. My role (remember my made-up one?) is DER T&L co-ordinator. I get to do the fun stuff with the teachers and students. I get to show off the cool stuff that digital technologies can do and watch them learn to play fearlessly with new things. A big issue with the use of the netbooks is organisation. As adults who have used computers for a number of years (regardless of ability level) we all know that being organised with the naming and saving of files can be critical to reducing stress. But we also know that being organised doesn’t come naturally – we need to be shown how to do it. OK, most of us need to be shown. There’s always those few that have perfectly folded clothes in their drawers and know where to find the latest update to the staff contacts list in a split second – but admit it, you’re few and far between!

Teenagers are like sloppy adults. They need to taught how to organise themselves – otherwise their desktop can look like it’s snowed word documents and their documents folder (what’s a folder?) look like a tsunami of ideas has raged through and dumped document debris recklessly in its wake. Yep – this is what Year 10 netbooks looked like 4 months after they got them. It frustrated me so much that I organised and ran small group DER workshops to straighten them out – or at the very least give them the skills to be able to keep things organised.

Year 9 were lucky – I was prepared, I knew in advance what would become of those nice and clean little machines. So I held the Year 9 DER Day one week after the netbooks were commissioned. I ran the workshops  for a whole day. Each period a new class of students would arrive in the library – sat at tables and chairs in front of an IWB. The session ran like this:

* kids log on to netbooks.

* kids log on to edmodo (they had already established groups with at least two of their teachers, edmodo has been going viral at Davo – teachers and students love it! I had a year 8 student say to me yesterday, ‘When are we getting an edmodo group?’ – cool, huh?)

* kids join the ‘Year 9 DER Day’ edmodo group (I’d already stocked it with resources needed for the session)

* I introduce them to the different features of edmodo relevant to them (adding notes, links, files, responding to assignments, polls etc)

* we watched a youtube clip ‘Digital World: Kids Today’ and briefly spoke about the changing nature of education. (I told them that I am 30 and when I was at school I had no mobile – got one when I was 17, sms was enabled when I was 19 – no ipods and the internet only came out – dial up – when I was 15. They found this amazing – cos they thought I was one of them, the fabled ‘digital native‘. We chatted about their experiences with school and how ‘central’ their teacher has been to their learning and how this might change a little in the future, hopefully they will become ‘central’ to their own learning. They thought that would be pretty cool.)

* we then spoke about files and folders and why it’s important to be organised. We focused on naming conventions to help them find their saved work

* I got them to go into the K drive and create two folders ‘Subject Folders’ and ‘OneNote Binders’. Inside the ‘Subject Folders’ they created a series of folders called ‘Maths 2010’, ‘English 2010’ and so on. This is where they are to save all of their school work – being sure to use appropriate naming conventions.

* I then got them to open up OneNote and I demonstrated how to create a OneNote notebook. They were shown how to use naming conventions to keep organised – this is especially important because they will have the netbook for 4 years. This means 4 years of files called ‘English Homework’ – not a great idea and they could appreciate why. Each notebook was named ‘English Binder 2010’, ‘Maths Binder 2010’ and so on. These were saved to the K Drive in the folder ‘OneNote Binders’. I explained to them that the K Drive is the safe place – they need to back it up once a day by clicking the ‘My Locker’ icon on their desktop and ensuring it syncs. This has to happen at school. It is really important for them to know to back up their work – I recommended they all put an external hard drive on their Christmas/birthday wish-list. Some kids already had one.

* The students who finished early completed a Survey Monkey survey on their use of the internet and their expectations with the netbooks. The results of this survey will be the basis of another blog post. Certainly were interesting.

* Before students left the workshop I checked that their folders were all organised, named correctly etc.

The workshops ended with happy, enthused and organised students. I was pretty exhausted, lol, but I was also buzzing because I knew I had taught the kids a really important lesson about being organised.

Following the Year 10 workshop that I ran a month or two before this Year 9 one, I presented to the staff on OneNote and explained to them the importance of instructing students to open their OneNote binders from their folders and not by launching OneNote. OneNote can become a land of a trillion open sections, unfiled sections and notebooks. Encouraging students to open a Notebook through the folder to which it is saved (preferably on the K Drive) means they are taken directly to the correct section and NoteBook. No confusion.

That’s been my experience with OneNote, anyway. I’m much happier with the organisation of Year 9 and 10. There’s bound to be kids that still open random sections or save all of their classwork in the one notebook, but I’ll just keep at them – and hopefully other teachers will too.

What’s your experience with student organisation? Does your school run similar workshops to ensure students are taught naming conventions for folders and files?

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5 thoughts on “Year 9 DER Day

  1. What you are doing with setting the students up to be organised is so vital. At my (laptop) school all students go through a bridging course in the holidays before starting year 7 – so they are meant to have folders set up on the schools H-drive. They still need reminders NOT to save into my documents though. You then get all sorts of excuses why eletronic homework isn’t done – wait and see! Still, good on you for starting them off on the right track!

    • Thanks for your comment Fiona. I’m hoping that failure to do homework becomes less of a problem thanks to edmodo and the assignment function. However, I can appreciate that the ‘I lost the file’ or ‘my ‘net was down’, ‘my netbook won’t charge’ will be new excuses.
      I do take the uni line and say ‘computer problems are not an acceptable excuse for failure to submit task’. They need to plan their work – something we’re gradually working into our assessments.

      Thanks again!

  2. Thanks Bianca for a really relevant, and timely, post. Year 9 have only just recieved their laptops at our school and what you outline here is a great outline on what should also be doing with our students.To be honest, i don’t think we have done anything like this with our Year 10 students except in an ad hoc way that might vary from teacher to teacher and faculty to faculty. In fact, I think I will talk to our teacher in charge and suggest he check this post out – it’s time we got organised too 🙂

    • I’m please to hear that I have helped! Honestly it wasn’t anything I was asked to do, and I think a lot of teachers think that I am mad fro even bothering, but I realised how each student was using OneNote differently and how they often misplaced their work from the previous lesson.
      Good luck to your school! I’m happy to hear from your DER guy if he wants to send me an email or add a comment here 🙂

  3. Fantastic ideas that I will be utilising myself! We have done something similar with the folders and the K drive but you go into more detail than we did and I like the instruction about going into OneNote from the saved notebook in their folder. I think I will have a “straighten it all back out” session with Year 10, and a “setting it up right” session with Year 9 in my school also. Thanks for the great ideas, Bianca!

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