A seventh grade student stopped by my office last Friday and here is a transcript of the dialogue, to the best of my recollection:
Student: You may hear someone shouting your name. Just ignore it.
Me: Shouting my name?
Student: Yeah. We are filming our Laptop Six movie and pretending someone got in trouble. But no one actually got in trouble. We’re just pretending.
My offer to appear in a cameo performance was respectfully (although not particularly regretfully) declined.
So, what is this production where students pretend they get in trouble?
It’s the annual dramatization of the Laptop Six!
Way back in 2007 the seventh and eighth grades piloted what has grown to become an integrated laptop program for grades 6 through 12. When the first group of middle school faculty brainstormed what they considered to be the most important policies and procedures for including laptops in our daily classrooms, we knew we wanted a list that was pretty short, and very compatible with any existing PDS rules. We wanted language that was kid-friendly and understandable, and guidelines that were not so specific that they might inspire budding lawyers to look for loopholes.
What we designed was taken to a student committee for feedback, and the final Laptop Six emerged. Here is what is says:
The first year of the laptop program, the current middle school students were in kindergarten, first or second grades. Laptops are so common now, along with tablets and smartphones, that this list runs the risk of seeming ancient rather than alive.
To help students take responsibility, and more importantly, to deepen their understanding, we have them work in advisory groups to bring the Laptop Six alive– through drama, film and posters.
While sixth graders work on posters (they are still getting acquainted with their laptops and learning to make movies), the seventh and eighth graders worked on making movies. Hence my warning to ignore my name being shouted in alarm. It was in the script.
It’s a process– from script to several takes– and then the editing starts. Once done, we will host a Laptop Six film festival as a MS morning meeting event. We’ve turned the Laptop Six into a literacy and media project.
Does anyone really get in trouble for not following the Laptop Six? Last year, no one had to “see Laura,” for those reasons. More often, it’s either not a problem, or can be resolved with a quiet conversation between teacher and student.