Thursday, February 6, 2014

s NO w Days

The number of school cancellations because of snow and cold across the country seems at an all time high. One district we work with had snow days tacked on to their holiday break and did not have school for a total of three weeks. Even schools in the south have been closed by weather this year. The steady rhythm of the school week has been regularly disrupted each week with a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday off. It's pretty difficult to hit a teaching or learning stride when its. M T W off F off off...

Under all the snow lies a fundamental assumption that needs to be dug out: That learning is something that only takes place in a school building. No school, no learning. But that's a snow-job, right? This same assumption is what makes the summer break a problem and it's what lies behind issues with homework. Somehow we have sent the message that if you are not in school, in a classroom with 25 other students and a teacher; if the bells are not ringing and their are no desks in rows; then the only thing to do is hangout, play video games, or watch TV.

Blended learning is beginning to melt that assumption. Now what we need is a blended learning plan for time off we can't plan for. We need to let students know before the first flake falls that on a school day when there is no school it does not mean there will be no learning. In it's simplest form students can be expected to learn as much as there is to learn about snow and weather and the Polar Vortex. But it is also not out of the realm of possibilities (access to technology would be an obvious concern), that teachers would have an e-learning plan to use the Internet, Skype, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media to interact with students and keep the learning happening.  I am not suggesting a full on 6 hours of teaching and learning, but teachers can plan at home learning experiences that keep up the learning even as the snow comes down.

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