Sometime in the afternoon of the 11th snow day of the year, after watching the movie Finding Nemo for the third time and drinking hot chocolate, my third grader came to me with a question: “Mom, can you help me find something new to learn on the computer?”
“Do you want me to help you log into the school’s website?” I responded, confused. Her teacher had posted a nice list of educational games and websites on the class webpage earlier in the year.
“I’ve already done all those,” she replied. “I want something new. Something different.”
This winter has seen huge swaths of the country hammered repeatedly by large snow storms, leaving many schools and districts behind schedule. Having long ago used up all of their designated make-up days, many districts are scrambling to fill in the gaps in their curricula by extending school years and cutting their spring breaks short.
In at least nine states, schools and districts are exploring the viability of e-learning days as a way to fill in the educational void left by unpredictable winter storms. Referred to as “cyber days” by some schools, e-learning days allow teachers to turn traditional snow days into days with an instructional purpose. E-learning days tap into snow days’ untapped potential, providing students with activities and assignments to be completed from the safety of their home. In an era where many students have access to vast quantities of information virtually anywhere through computers, phones, and tablets, providing teachers with an alternative to lost instructional time seems almost like a no-brainer.
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