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.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Conversations and Educon 2.2

My boss called me in today and asked what conferences I was going to and who I was taking with me. We all know it has been a lean year and it gets even leaner when you are an inner city, priivate school. I told her I would gladly be willing to go to Philadelphia to attend Educon. She said make sure you take someone with you as long as they will get something out of it. Anyway, I spoke to my curriculum director and aksed her to look over the Educon 2.2 material online and see what she thought.

She came back with it looks very good. We got her registered and now we are working on flights and such as well as accomodations for the trip. This will be my second year to attend Educon and for me I am sure it will be a calmer experience now that I have the first one under my belt. I met so many people face to face that I knew online and I was almost star struck seeing all of these people walk around and then to be able to sit in a room and hear them begin the conversations that were so good. The biggest problem was the fact that I couldn't get to everything and listen live.

My hope is that my curriculum director will get as much out of this trip and find it as meaningful as I did last year. When I returned last year I told my boss there were more meaningful discussions that weekend than any conferences I had been to all together. No when I attend conferences I do it so much differently. I attend with what I need to learn for myself and for my faculty. I look for ways to engage, enliven and energize students as well as faculty members.

If you are going to Philadelphia, I look forward to seeing you there and hopefully learning with you or from you. I hope I can contribute to your learning as well.

So little time to try and get it all done and rolling in the right direction. Safe travels.