Back to School: Plan ahead and never ‘miss’ a day of school for snow, ice, heat, hurricane… again

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It’s Back to School 2011!  We’ll be running back to school focused posts throughout the week of September 2nd, highlighting some good tips and suggestions for making the most out of your Moodle usage in 2011-2012.  

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A school cancellation due to snow, when I was a student, was like winning the lottery.  The day was disrupted and cancelled and I got to go home, go sledding and drink my hot chocolate without a care in the world.  Until we were forced to go to school through late June to make up the missed time in the classroom.

It’s no longer necessary to miss school if the proper planning and policies are put in place.  Many schools across the country (and globe) are instituting policies that replace school cancellation with Moodle-based activities, turning a wasted day into a productive web-based experience for students.  As more and more students learn through Moodle during regular school days, checking and posting to discussion boards, downloading and uploading assignments, completing quizzes, etc. it’s becoming easier and easier for teachers to build contingency lesson plans into their curriculum to stave off the need to “make up a day” since even a day spent at home becomes a day “in the [virtual] classroom”.

Here are a few schools and articles that support this type of policy.  What are you waiting for, talk to your administrator today.

1. Boone Grove High School in Valparaiso, Indiana held it’s 1st ever “online day” where school was closed and students stayed at home to engage their course materials solely through the school’s Moodle.

According to the article,

Students stayed home and worked on assignments that teachers put up on Moodle (a site that is free and lets students enroll in the certain classes that they need to do their work in) for them.

Students were given the leisure of waking up any time they like and doing their work in their own time frame… There were also teachers that posted assignments that were to be done within a certain time frame.

2. Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, GA is taking a similar approach. From the article [link],

For the very first time, Lakeview is implementing its “Remote School”.

Originally designed in case the school closed due to an influenza outbreak, Lakeview is one of the few schools in the country to have a Remote School plan.

The plan allows teachers to continue instruction electronically.

3.  Mount Vernon High School, Ohio USA [article]: high schoolers this week waved goodbye to the age of snow days and welcomed Moodle as their “alternate learning venue on calamity days”.  Seems that the internet has provided a solution to school closures by providing a digital medium for school resources and activities.  Mount Vernon HS last week tried the system out twice, according to the article, in response to the national snow storm.  Around 80% of students were able to “attend” virtually.  From the article,

A variety of learning activities were taking place, said [high school principal Kathy Kasler]. “Some assignments were independent exercises; some teachers had a scheduled online discussion; some were linked and going to a different web page; some teachers had posted online quizzes and the students had to take the quiz right then and there.”

4. Granville Schools in Ohio are doing something similiar.  A recent article headline in the local paper reads “Calamity days won’t keep Granville students from schoolwork” from the article,

If Granville schools are closed for more than five calamity days in the future, students still will be expected to do schoolwork under a new policy adopted Monday.

The Board of Education approved a Calamity Day Makeup Plan requiring teachers to upload online lessons to make up for lost instructional time.