21st Century Snow Days

Posted on: Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:00

So many aspects of our current educational system are still rooted in 20th century industrial models. Is it time to consider other options for snow days?

Current practice requires Maryland school systems to make up any day missed due to inclement weather so that students attend for a total of 180 days. (Note: School systems can request a waiver if an excessive number of days were lost and making them up would be extremely difficult.) When I was growing up, snow days were a day off. Students everywhere looked forward to them (even if their parents did not). But with more and more resources available to students online, do we need to reconsider the traditional snow day? 

I believe that students could still have a quality instructional day at home on a “snow day” with the right procedures established. Consider the opportunities available with online resources. On the last snow day, students who participate in our Frederick County Virtual School (FCVS) were able to log into their online courses just as they normally would and continue with their work. FCVS Principal Stacey Adamiak reports that every year online options for our students become better and better. And while online learning may not be the best – or preferred – option for every student, it’s an effective and viable option for many.

Teachers and students can “chat” online or send comments to each other through a variety of applications. Google classroom has also opened possibilities for teachers to post “snow day” assignments for students to complete.  Even if students do not have access to the internet, teachers could have students download assignments onto a device at school that the student could then take home. (Yet another reason for going 1 to 1 with computers, but I digress.)

Of course, we could also consider doing things the old fashioned way. We could ask students to spend a specific amount of time reading a book, writing, and doing physical activity. Creative projects could be developed and shared in advance for students to complete at home. Students could log their work on these activities and parents would sign to confirm. Some teachers and parents take advantage of these options already.

These are just a few ideas for how we could rethink 21st century “snow days.” I’d be interested in hearing your ideas as well.  Of course, rethinking our approach to snow days is just the first step.  The other critically important step would be to convince the State Board of Education that regulations need to change in order to allow a new paradigm for snow days!

How should we be using snow days? Share your ideas on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.