Snow days

Diane over at Journeys had a post yesterday about a school in Kansas, Turning Point Learning Center,  that holds class online instead of closing school because of snow.  It’s an interesting post, and it sounds like a great school.

My first concern when I started reading was for those children who don’t have internet access.  How are they affected?  According to Diane, one teacher, Ginger Lewman,  describes the system like this:

“We meet via iChat, then they just work away. If a kid can’t chat, then they get the assignment via email. If they don’t have internet or electricity, they just call us and we count them absent. No biggie. If they don’t call us, we call them and ask what’s up to the parents. Parents know this. See, it’s [doing schoolwork] not a ‘have to’ thing… And we’d prefer to work and not have to go an extra day during the beautiful month of May. AND the kids really do care about meeting their deadlines.”

So while students without access are at a disadvantage, they are not penalized any more than if they were absent on any other day of school.

This is a great example of how schools should be set up to handle “crises” like snow days or H1N1 or whatever the next thing is.  At my university, we were concerned last spring about H1N1.  And they told each of us that we should come up with a plan of how we would handle the end of the semester.  There was no real guidance, no master plan.  How much better this approach is– to have it there and in place and an extension of how classes are taught every day rather than something tacked on and, probably, unworkable.


One thought on “Snow days

  1. Thank you so much for your comments and for sharing what we do at Turning Point Learning Center. We’re a charter school with 1:1 MacBooks, grades 5-8. The families know that if they’re looking for something different in education for their kids, they’re going to have to do something different too; one point is to provide internet access at home.

    However, we all have those months and those occasions when we may not have internet access for a while. Sure, the kids could go to the local library, but that’s not feasible all the time. We allow kids to come to school up to 1.5 hours early and stay for an hour (or more) after school, so they’re able to do the work they need to on a daily basis.

    On snow days, we simply do what it takes to make it work for each child. Out of our 54 students, we only missed about 8% of the TPLC students on these 2 snow days, and of those 8%, most live in rural areas with dial-up access. They can still access the email with the list of what they should work on, but the video conferencing is nil for them.

    I’m sending some students to your blog, so I hope they’re able to post their insight to our process as well.

    Ginger Lewman
    Director, f2f Program
    Turning Point Learning Center

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