Snow days can be very disruptive events, and the Greenwich area has had two last week and two more this week. While teachers and students often enjoy the break, snow days can interrupt momentum in learning.
Last Wednesday also happened to be National Digital Learning Day (www.digitallearningday.org), and in some ways they are perfect complements to each other. Never before have so many digital tools been available to continue learning regardless of location, provided you have power and an Internet connection, of course! This winter, more and more schools are transforming snow days into digital learning days (see Education Week's blog article, "Snow Days? Some Schools Transform Them Into E-Learning Days", Feb. 2, 2014)
Whitby strives for balance in its approach to snow days, recognizing that for many families they are surprise opportunities to play and connect, catch up on some rest or take care of household chores. Learning should also be a part of every day, and snow days don't need to be an exception. For these recent snow days, Whitby teachers have provided suggestions for learning that can be done at home, both online and offline, for maintaining students' momentum in class.
With its Veracross student and parent portals and learning management system, teachers can communicate and track assignments. Upper School students (Grades 5-8) in particular are responsible for managing their own work and go to Veracross for they assignments and online resources. In lower grades, parents go to the parent portal and often receive email from the teachers with suggestions for incorporating learning into their day. Depending on age, students have access to such online learning tools as Everyday Mathematices, ALEKS, and RAZ Kids.
Students may also work with offline suggestions, such as reading independently and writing a summary, writing a story using one of three or four prompts, building a castle using geometric shapes found at home, exercising and assessing changes in their body, or exploring such concepts as "stereotypes" and the need to change them to remain open-minded.
"It is a joy to know that our children can continue their explorations with a school that is always "open" for access to learning despite the physical restraints of weather and campus closure," says Head of School Bryan Nixon in his Whitby Bylines blog, "Reflections on Learning During Snow Day". "Each task my children are engaged in is not simply rote or practice or even based on short term memory recall but, more importantly, their studies are based on skills and concepts that they will utilize throughout their lives. This is the value of a Whitby education."