Process over Product, Right?!? (AUP Course 2 Final Project)

Process over product…that’s what we’re often evaluating our students on, right?

This Course 2 Final Project was successful for me because it stimulated much-needed conversation and collaboration at my school. And even if we didn’t end up with a perfect polished product, we discussed, agreed, disagreed, and then agreed to disagree:). And that’s OKAY.

When I talk about “we,” I’m talking about the tech integrators and myself. I did end up collaborating with Coetailer Sanne, which was helpful and enlightening to see and understand issues other schools are going through; however, the most powerful part of this project happened right at my school (I’m the only COETAILer at my school). My tech integrators were tasked with the daunting task of creating a RUA (Responsible User Agreement) for the elementary school. Our school had recently adopted (like a week ago!) a new RUP for the entire school that is based off of the AUP from YIS and HKIS. I’m not thrilled with the new adoption, as I feel some parts are repetitive and there are some things missing; however, that isn’t my call to make:).

Back to the ES RUA…we decided to go the route that Taipei American School  and other schools took–breaking the RUA into lower and upper school agreements. We thought the TAS cartoon AUP was brilliant as we all know that most kids (and adults for that matter) are visual learners. The only downside was that the cartoons/AUP stretched over several pages. Nonetheless, our school liked the idea of attaching some sort of image to text, as we are engaging students even more. We have some of our middle school students working on some cartoons to help illustrate the points for the upper school RUA. For the lower school RUA, we are going to attach an image to each statement.

My biggest push was that this document be not only a document–it needed to come alive. And how do we do that? We need to weave the document into our curriculum and class discussions. It needs to penetrate each of the subjects in an authentic and meaningful way. Why? So that it makes SENSE for kids, and it’s not just some piece of paper they signed off on in the beginning of the year in order to work on the iPad or computer.

Although this RUA doesn’t feel completely ‘right’ yet, I feel relieved knowing that it will be revisited each year, as it should be. What we’ve accomplished thus far is a feat in itself.

After reading several AUP final projects before posting this one, I have to say that one really seemed to call out to me. That was Grant Roll‘s, “The Big Four.” I’ve seen other COETAILers, like Michelle Lawgun reference the same idea of using the school’s values (and adding safety as a 5th) to tie in the AUP and continue teaching it throughout the year. As our ES handbook is currently being printed (with the new RUP and RUA), it will not be something that can be executed next year; however, I’d love to see our school move forward in that direction in the future.

*The first part of the Google doc below shows the final “product” that was decided upon [black print is the RUP for the whole school/ blue print is what we came up with for the lower school RUA (grades KG-gr2) / red print is for the upper school RUA (grades 3-5)]. This part of the document still needs work (adding the cartoons and images as well as some word-smithing), and that is why I’ve also added the “process” section (below the yellow dotted line). This is where conversations were continued (after meeting in person) and some real thinking came alive. I took the liberty of adding in various lesson plans that I though went with particular statements. I pulled these from Common Sense Media. These lesson plans wouldn’t be printed on our RUA, but as I mentioned before, I believe it’s critical for this document to come alive. And for teachers to be able to do that, they need to be supported and given resources.

Mind Your Digital Manners!

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at this fancy-schmancy restaurant. (We were WAY out of our element!) I couldn’t help but notice this family that came and sat next to us after our appetizers arrived. They came with their 2 young children. In 20 minutes, not one word was exchanged between any of them (except for the 1-year-old who kept shouting at his dad). Mom and dad sat across the table from each other texting away.

Two thoughts came to my mind as I sat there watching them:1) Mind your manners! It’s a shame these days how people are prioritizing digital conversations when a face-to-face human contact conversation is sitting right in front of them!  2) Those young kids are growing up thinking that is okay! Then, the cycle just repeats itself and those kids end up doing the same thing as they age.

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So how do we break the cycle?

By teaching digital etiquette.

Just as we teach our kids (or students) to say please and thank you and not to run in the hallways, we must also educate them so they know what is appropriate and what is not in the digital world.

Our school is going 1:1 in the high school next year. I have heard some of the parent community rumbling about how now that it’s going 1:1 the kids will be living and breathing their computer and lose touch with human contact and conversation.

Now, of course the students will not be ONLY working on their computers in each class. Teachers are bright; teachers will still have the kids discussing and analyzing in small and large groups. HOWEVER, it is imperative that schools place VALUE on educating students on etiquette and equipping them with digital citizenship skills. In order to do this, time and effort must be spent. Some things must come off the plates of teachers in order to do this. But, in my opinion, it must happen if we really want to live up to our school vision of creating effective 21st century learners.

Some rights reserved by Benson Kua