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Considering eLearning for Snow Days? 

Posted by Lisa Cutshall on January 17, 2018

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Many parents and school faculty are looking for ways to keep the learning going, despite inclement weather closings and delays, as the snow days pile up. eLearning Days offer an opportunity to avoid disrupted learning, develop digital communication and application skills, and keep those days from accumulating later in the year when everyone is ready for spring or summer break. Be sure to keep these tips in mind when planning for some awesome eLearning with students...

1. Explore and reflect with brain breaks.  

No one should be stuck behind a computer screen all day without visual and physical stretches, especially students. Just like we try to blend our learning activities in the classroom, an off-site location isn’t any different. We need to get our students moving in between the videos, research, and online assignments. Try building in an interview question where they have to go find someone in the house or actually make a phone call to ask it. How about finding an object in the house that aligns with an activity or analogy and have them take a picture to include in the response? Let them sketch the view from their window, upload a picture, and write in response. What about making a recipe in the kitchen, converting all the amounts to different fractions or metric? Lots of possibilities here... but just don’t assume it is happening. Find a way to ensure that it is part of the plan and there is a way to include in the produced work. 

2. Share and model the learning first.

You should not attempt an eLearning Day without practicing it first. Just like anything else, we have to have time to attempt, fail, adjust, and ask questions before we are expected to perform as if it was part of our normal routine. As a teacher, take a day (or two), early in the year to operate as if it were a virtual day. Let your students practice finding their assignment, asking you or their peers questions online, and submitting things electronically. Let them move to a spot in the room where they would like to work and no face-to-face talking. Be sure to throw them a challenge - turn out the lights to signify a power outage. What would they do if they lost their wifi? How do they make the shift to complete the work? Let students think and share responses. Discuss your expectations and what “excuses” you will allow for unexpected interruptions or delays. Does everyone know the “helpline” to call if something goes wrong? Consider an off-site troubleshooting guide or tip sheet created by students to share with parents and faculty. They are amazing at backdoor solutions and workarounds when they want to use the technology. Capture that early in the year, model it, and keep building up your resource as you practice. This is an opportunity for some creative problem-solving!

3. Visually connect and collaborate.

Teachers, please don’t underestimate the power and comfort your smiling face and voice can bring to a stressful situation, like a change in routine or learning environment. They trust you and are inspired by you. Some of the best eLearning assignments can start with a video featuring yourself on camera! Explain the activity, just like you might do in your classroom. Parents are also reassured by this, knowing that the teacher is still providing and leading instruction. An informal and quick video can go a long way - and it doesn’t need to be a major production to have a major impact. Throughout the day, you can also visually connect the learning with online spaces where students can see others posting work and questions. Consider a Padlet wall, discussion board, or virtual whiteboard where you can provide feedback to the collective group, collaborate, and work out math problems live!

eLearning Days can be a fantastic opportunity for students, teachers, and parents to keep the learning on track and create awesome learning experiences for kids. However, the state of Indiana has specific criteria that school districts must meet to utilize these days. Interested in getting some help planning your next eLearning Day? We currently work with multiple school districts across the state to help them leverage their technology on eLearning Days. Simply fill out the form below, and one of our team members will be in touch!

Have another tip for educators out there? Please join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!


Topics: technology, education, teaching, elearning

Written by Lisa Cutshall

Director of School Engagement