First 5 Days of School: Australia

"We can lose the value of a whole year if we do not get the first five days of school right."

Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta


Summer is here and it’s time to think about those initial activities for the start of the new academic year.

I'm sure we all agree  that the first few days of school are key to for establishing the culture of learning that will set the  tone for the rest of the academic year, however there is  little research concerning how to make these critical days as effective as they can be. In his best selling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink  identifies the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Trying this exciting yet simple project in the first 5 days of school could be a great way to adopt these three principles and kick off the year the way you mean to go on.

At the BLC conference in Boston this year, thought leader, Alan November challenged schools to reconsider the activities we traditionally plan for students to kick start the year. He believes that these activities should set the tone for "powerful, engaging and self-directed learning"

Whilst educators shared ideas about what those first 5 days might look like (Follow the discussions on Twitter hashtag, #1st5Days), we thought we might make a suggestion based upon the work of best selling author Dan Pink.THe Task

Try this with your students:

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink shares what he believes to be the secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

All you need to do is have your students think hard about their life, who they are, what they want to achieve or what they want their sentence might be by the end of this academic year. After due consideration and discussion, each student should distil their ideas into one sentence. Finally, they need to share their sentence on video  for approximately 15 seconds. This is a great way to build a culture of mutual respect, peer review and student ownership. Be creative, allow students to collaborate to consider the final product and how it should be viewed by their audience. Think about areas of the school or community that would best support the students in telling their stories and consider using props, mobile technologies and music to create a meaningful narrative that can be returned to throughout the year.


The "What's Your Sentence" Challenge

 The idea

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.


Student examples


How Atomic Learning Can Help

The following Atomic Learning Spotlights and tutorials have been selected by the team at  Learnology as resources to support this project in the classroom.

Podcasting and Vodcasting Workshop - iLife '09

Video Storytelling in the Classroom

YouTube for Educators

iMovie HD 6

Windows Movie Maker 2

Find the one that works for you and let your students learn for themselves with as they take the first steps towards an year where autonomy, mastery and purpose are central to all learning opportunities

Remember to share completed movies on your learning management system so that students can gain feedback from their intended audience, share with parents and go back and review their sentences throughout the year to see if they are still on the right path.




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