Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow days = School days or at least they should!

Today was an interesting day. Last night an artic blast of very cold air made it's way to Texas and beyond. The problem started with the precipitation that was falling before the temp got below 32 F. Anyway there was lots of ice in many areas of the roads to the point that some freeways here got shut down due to the ice and accidents. We initially decided on a late start and then ended up calling off the day and switching to our online curriculum. Our problem with students is that we have no set boundaries that we draw from and some of our faculty travel 45 miles one way to teach at BD.

On the second call notification that I sent out, it was a simple statment: "Due to declining road conditions and the weather school will not meet today. Students are to check their online classes in Edline for today and follow the red day schedule." This was also sent out to our students and parents in email, on Facebook as well as through our school Twitter feed.

So what does moving to our online curriculum do for the students and the faculty as well as the school? It keeps the process moving forward. We don't lose a day. After spending time with the Diocesan office and explaining what we do and how we do it they agreed to let us give it a go. They were pleased about the approach we wanted to take. We started working with the Diocese last year on this venture but our online programs have been in place for more than 4 years. Our online coordinator lives in Wisconsin and he is helped by another teacher that is located in New York. They both travel to meet with students and parents face to face about 4 times a year. At other times they are in contact via email, phone and twitter. There are specific subject teachers at the school that students can work with if they need.

Today I have had several emails from students who were not able to log in to Edline or needing their school email address and password as they were not able to log in at all. I would hope nearly every school has the ability to do the same thing that we did today. Also know that while we are a private school, we are also an inner city school with at least half of our student population qualifying for free or reduced lunch if we were part of that program. So please, do not think we are some rich, private school because we are not.

We will evaluate tomorrow how today went but later in the year we will not be looking for a day to have school, we were there today online.

The tools that we all have available at Bishop Dunne are Edline and in Edline we have the ability to send out email to each of our classes both students and parents. We also have the ability in Edline to set up discussions, online homework turn in as well as quizzes or tests. Each student at the school is also given their own school email address that is web based and virus checked. Individual teachers then can take it a step or two further and use things like DimDim, Skype, or other free online 2.0 tools to work with their students.

I hope that you are working on the same things with your students to help them become learners no matter what the circumstances.


GingerTPLC said...

Paul, we're on the same page! This morning, Diane Cordell wrote about my school, Turning Point Learning Center and our SnowDay School in her blog.

Kids will be commenting on her post soon. Right now, they're out playing, enjoying the rest of the day.

In the time of climate change, we're trying to instill the idea that snow day ≠ automatic day off.

Kudoes to your kids, staff, and community for embracing forward-thinking in education too!

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing this! It is really food for thought!

Ann Lusch said...

This makes a lot of sense to me. I mentioned to our administration when there was a fear of school closings due to H1N1 that we have the capacity to keep going, to still have students engaged in learning, even if they are at home. The same could happen for snow days. said...

I appreciate you showing off your school and what your school is doing!!!

My admin is also watching your blog -- and using your school as an example of what we hope to be.

Thanks for your friendship, your wisdom, and your examples on your blog.


Bill Montana said...

Paul, thank you for sharing your experience with online school with us. I did the same thing with my evening class when all evening school activities were canceled in CISD Thursday.