Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snow Days Do NOT Mean “No Learning” Days

This is the first in a series of four blogs highlighting digital learning in the Greensboro Day School community.
When a snow day was called at GDS 10 years ago, it meant that teaching and learning was put on hold until students returned to school. Now, we are a connected community where teachers can share lessons and the learning continues. In contrast to some school districts in other states, GDS teachers are not required to have e-learning days when we have snow days. However, our teachers took it upon themselves to use technology to make sure their students did not lose momentum in the learning process.

Some teachers in our Lower School emailed parents with suggestions to help keep learning going at home.  This encouragement included not only the study of multiplication facts and working on book reports, but also watching the Olympics to keep track of medals. While our Suzuki students continued to practice,  but they were also able to use software to record themselves and send the recordings to the teacher who would listen to the piece and give feedback to the student. What is most impressive here is that our teachers were not only able to continue the “usual” learning, but they were also able augment school work with popular media and technology tools.

In our 5th-12th grades, students have Haiku accounts in addition to their GDS email accounts. Students understand that they are expected to check Haiku even when the school is closed for snow. However, the past two snow days encouraged our teachers to be even more creative with their use of Haiku.

Middle School teachers not only posted assignments, but they also provided students with resources to prepare them for the upcoming week at school. Teachers posted videos from Khan Academy, screencasts of lessons with the teacher’s narration, and links to practice, games, and websites relating to grammar, math, and social studies to explore.  Some teachers even posted links to tests which our students were to take at home (GDS honor code applies even at home). One Middle School parent told me that she was impressed with the resources that were provided to her child and felt that this was necessary to keep our students on track with their work.

Our Upper School did not miss a beat over the snow days. Students submitted assignments, papers and projects for teachers to review. This forethought allowed learning to continue as planned once classes resumed. Teachers and students in this division are quite facile with technology of all types (laptops, smartphones, etc.) and they use these tools to continue their connection with school even when they are not physically in a classroom.

These examples, which certainly do not exhaust all the wonderful teaching and learning that went on last week, are representative of the initiative that our teachers take to be sure to provide our students with the best education possible.