Snow Days Offer Chance for Schools to Innovate | Connecticut Public Radio

Snow Days Offer Chance for Schools to Innovate

Feb 9, 2015

The winter wonderland that comes with fresh snow is often a double-edged sword for many Connecticut families with school-aged children. With no school, instructional time is swapped for fun time. This can create all kind of problems, from the school to the student to home life.

Victor Lana, who used to be the principal at a private Catholic school in New York, said schools should harness technology so there's no break in learning.

From Lana's blog:

Another good idea is to rethink what a “day in session” can be. Fortunately, with the increasing viability of online options, a day in session could be a teacher holding class from his/her at-home computer. If all students in that class log-in for the full session, their attendance could be recognized as valid. Meaningful instruction definitely can be accomplished in this way, and it could advance the notion of closing school without losing a school day.

Some schools around the country are already doing that.

Students at Delphi Community High School in Indiana have access to laptops so courses continue even when school is canceled for bad weather.

Teacher Brian Tonsoni told NPR's Stan Jastrzebski that online sessions often lead to strong participation of students. Superintendent Ralph Walker said that shy students can benefit from e-learning, also, because the peer pressure of a classroom is a bit muted in an online setting.

In a Kentucky school district, students are expected to log into the school's system from home to take lessons designed for snow days. These lessons are tailored to each student's specific needs.

Some school districts might find they don't have the resources to get computers for all students. Former principal Lana advises parents and schools to partner to develop options for kids to stay motivated and educated during snow days.

More from Lana's blog:

When planning for these inevitable school closings, parents and schools need to be partners in determining options. I know many parents have to get to work despite the inclement weather, but that shouldn’t mean jeopardizing their children (or their teachers) in the process. Parents need to formulate some kind of plan to deal with these days. Sometimes relatives or neighbors can be on an emergency list if this happens; other times, perhaps the school can create a resource list of reliable people who will be able to get to the homes to care for the children while parents go to work.