Feb 25 2014

One Pennsylvania School Turned a Snow Day Into a Cyber Day

The increased number of snow days this year inspired this school to test virtual classroom scenarios.

It’s been a pretty brutal winter this year in much of the country, and school districts are quickly running out of snow days for the school year. That means schools are turning to unpopular choices like shortening spring break or extending the school year.

But Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill, Pa., took the unexpected snow days as an opportunity to try out its virtual classroom strategy, according to a report from The Mercury. That meant rather than taking a snow day, the school and its 900 students took a “cyber day.”

“We’re doing this as a pilot to really leverage the technology we have in place as a school to use efficiently in cases like this with inclement weather so we don’t lose instructional days from the calendar,” said Principal William Brannick.

The school was able to continue instruction with students off campus thanks to its 1-to-1 initiative, which outfits students with a tablet that they take home with them.

Teachers make assignments using the school’s learning management software, and students are required to complete six to seven assignments during a cyber day. These assignments are challenging and in-depth, Brannick claimed, and go beyond simply asking students to read an article and answer five questions.

But cyber days don’t mean students have to go it alone. Teachers answered any student questions by email or chat, using the school’s My Big Campus program.

The school viewed the cyber day experiment as a pilot and is currently evaluating the results, said Brannick.

“The teachers have been very happy with the depth and quality of work students have produced, and the parents have been very happy for the students to be engaged in school work on what would normally be a school day,” he said.

If cyber days become the status quo in the school, it might dampen students’ enthusiasm for snow forecasts, since not going into school will no longer mean a free day to play in the snow or hang out watching TV all day.

Has your school considered a similar cyber day option to handle snow days? Let us know in the Comments.

<p>Ingram Publishing/ThinkStockPhotos</p>