Fans of the 2000 film “Snow Day” may remember that anything can happen on a snow day – and for some high schoolers, that includes learning.
Those might soon include students at a school district in Georgia, which recently proposed teaching students at home when schools close for inclement weather, a local news report stated.
“We’ve had a lot of success with it,” says English teacher Keri Mosier.
Students at Barren County High may get a reading passage or an ACT review packet to complete at home, for example, says Johnson. Teachers try to stay away from rolling out new material on these days and teens can communicate with instructors by phone or online, he says.
Once school is back in session, students have a few extra days to turn in assignments, which count for grades. They don’t have to make up these days at the end of the school year, Johnson says.
Kentucky has approved dozens of districts to provide non-traditional instruction in lieu of snow days, while in Ohio some students may complete assignments – known as “blizzard bags” – when winter weather closes schools.
Most students at Barren County High have internet access at home, Johnson says, but teachers aim to inform students about plans before school closes and provide needed hard copies of assignments.
These days are a great opportunity to use technology and meet teens – who have their phone or tablet with them all the time – in their world and accomplish what is needed academically, says Mosier.
One recent assignment asked students reading “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens to analyze vocabulary in the book, she says. Students made a Google Slides presentation on words they were studying. They had to define the words, provide antonyms and synonyms, and insert an image.
Material at the high school level can be challenging as teachers try to get students college- and career-ready, Mosier says. “Staying focused on that material is always a plus,” she says.
Even without at-home learning days, Mosier thinks high school teachers elsewhere could send home assignments to keep teens on track – similar to what many teachers do in the summer.
Johnson says many Advanced Placement teachers at the school already communicated virtually with students on snow days before the new policy.
Students are still getting used to the new concept, he says. Some students failed to turn in at-home assignments in the past and their grades suffered as a result, but many like finishing school on time in May.
Mosier says high school teachers can motivate teens to learn outside of school by using technology. She encourages teachers to give assignments students can complete on their phone or computer.
It’s important for teachers to be on their computer and ready to answer any questions students may have, she says. Then, teachers can help students work through those challenges.
Another way to motivate teens is to assign work that allows students to interact with their peers or teachers – like virtual discussions, she says.
Johnson says communication is the key to keeping teens on track on snow days – for example, make sure teacher websites are up to date and encourage students to use technology.