When I took the job at Turning Point Learning Center in July, I was told that we do things a little differently. I was also told that a “snow day” meant working from home, not a day off. Yes, I did understand that. . . but to a point. Really? Kids working even though they don’t have to go to school? That is not possible.
Well, yesterday after school we got word that school was cancelled for today. So we all sat down together and worked on a googledoc of what we were going to do today. (It has since been shared on Scribd) We worked for about an hour getting activities to do in the snow, things to cover their content areas. What was the day going to look like? How long would we be working? These are all questions we talked about and worked on.
Well, I woke up this morning at 7 (I slept in for 2 hours) and started to get around. I didn’t have to shower, I got to stay in my pajamas, I loved it. Around 8:15 this morning the 6 teachers were on Skype and discussing the final details of the day.
We have 70 students in our program and they each have a school issued computer. The teachers set their chat status’s for the students to know who they were to check in with at 9:00. I had 18 students checking into me. I was a little nervous, I didn’t really know what I was doing or what to say, but hey, we as teachers have those moments, right? Well, at 9:00, I asked the students in a group chat if they were there, they said yes. So I hit the call button. I instantly was calling those students in their homes. They all accepted my call and said good morning. There was a lot of feedback and they could barely hear me. We finally got everyone to mute their microphones so that I was the only one being heard.
Well, I asked how everyone was. Since they were all on mute, they were chatting back saying great and they could hear me. It’s a little odd talking and having no noise coming back. Were they really listening? Well, I went over the details of the day. The first 30 minutes was the teacher sharing information about the day. Then starting at 9:30 each class would “travel” from teacher to teacher for their classes. Math, Communications, Global Studies, and Science. They would be in each class for an hour.
The kids seemed to understand. I then told the students that since we were meeting today and covering important school topics, they would be out of school on a nice day later in the spring. My chat window blew up from all the celebrations from the students. They loved that idea!!!
Well, throughout the morning it was great to jump from chat room to chat room seeing the interactions of the students and teachers. It was an exciting time of learning. In Science the students were running outside in the single digit temperatures to gather some snow and have it melt to see how much liquid there was in it. Global Studies they were learning about the 13 Colonies and writing quiz questions (I think there might be a quiz given). In Math the students were continuing to work and get ready for state assessments. The Communications teacher had the students writing poems and stories about the snow.
I ease dropped during one of the classes as they were in Communications. One student got confused about how to share their poems with the teacher and just put them in the chat instead of emailing them. A couple of students responded to the student saying, “Great job”, “Nice writing”, “I like what you said”. From there students were sharing what they wrote in the chat!!! I’m pretty sure they were emailing them as well, but to see them wanting to share and get IMMEDIATE feedback from their PEERS was so exciting. They loved writing and sharing their thoughts on the snow.
Throughout the day as I went from class to class and talking with the students, they loved today. They worked hard and really took ahold of their learning while sitting in their homes!!!! If they had questions they chatted us in a private chat and got help. They were patient when they chatted and you replied that you were with another student. They replied “ok” and waited until I could get to them. Then when I was able to get to them, some had figured it out or asked another student.
It was a great day of learning. You would see a message from a student, “brb gotta eat lunch”. They would be gone for a bit, then come back and work hard. The day ended at 1:30 this afternoon. The kids still had plenty of daylight to go outside and enjoy the snow. So let’s think about this. It was a little warmer by that time, they probably would have slept until that time if we didn’t meet for school, and they get out an extra day later when they can be outside and enjoy it a little more.
Today was not a wasted day. It was a wonderful day for learning. I enjoyed it. The students enjoyed. Parents enjoyed it. I also had a friend who teaches in another district “step in” and enjoy the day as well. Here are a few other reflections of the day.
Ashley – a teacher in Wichita ksquirkyteacher
Angie – a parent pinkpintobean