Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Will These Snow Days Ever End?? Your LMS to the Rescue!

Teachers all over the east coast are struggling with school cancellations, early dismissals and delayed openings. Many of us are feeling that we may be going to school till July while others are concerned that Saturday make-up days may be in our near future. Precious instructional time is at a premium and the winter is far from over. How can we pack so much instruction into shortened days and weeks?

Answer:  YOUR LMS.  We have had so many snow days this winter that even the KIDS are bored sitting home. Wouldn't it be great if we could keep their minds stimulated even a little bit while they sit home and watch the snow fall?  If your school is using a learning management system such as Edmodo, Schoology, Gaggle, Moodle or one of the many others available these days, you can encourage your students to stay "plugged into learning" even during snow days. Using an LMS can help you stay connected with students by creating a blended learning environment between school and home. How connected?  Well, many LMS's provide a shared library area where you can post links to online resources that students could go to at any time. Wouldn't it be better to spend some of that downtime playing online learning games instead of the usual XBox or PS3 games? This is just one example of how you can keep your students thinking . Here are a few others: (some of which help to reinforce the Common Core standards.)

  • Post a link to an activity or instructional video via one of your many online curriculum tools or use Khan Academy,  NextVista, or YouTube to support learning about a particular topic. 
  • After watching a video, have students write a reflection essay or complete a homework assignment related to that topic. Homework can be done as a paperless assignment to be completed online. Students can also reply/discuss/comment on the video through an online discussion.  
  • Have students CREATE an instructional video, explaining how to: solve a certain type of math problem, describe a concept in science, explain a certain event in history or prewrite a personal narrative by describing a personal experience. 
  • Ask students to create a documentary about their day off. Have them describe "The Perfect Snow Day" or make an instructional video about snowboarding, sledding or building the perfect snowman. Have them video their activities and narrate the story. Have students post up their video to share with the class. 
  • Allow students to choose a short story from the many free ebook sites and retell the story to their classmates. Or, have students react to a book chapter they are reading as a class or give an opinion about an event they are studying in history.
  • Create a KWL page in a shared document and have your students list 2-3 items they've learned about a particular topic or topics. This can then become the class study guide.
  • Assign students to small writing groups. Give each group a story starter and have them write a collaborative story, taking turns to add their own sentences. Once finished, the students can publish their stories to a class blog.

These are just a few ideas to keep your students thinking and working while they're away from school. Minds left idle during those long snow days can make it difficult for kids to get back on track when they return to school. Why not give them something fun to share and discuss upon their return?