Last year, my school decided to start online snow days. I think they were very effective as long as the teacher was thoughtful and clear about assignments. As it looks like the East Coast is about to get pummeled, I wanted to share my online snow day tips. However, these tips can be used for any blended teacher.
First, make sure that you are specific. If you want students to write 10 sentences, tell them to write 10 sentences. If you write “write a reflection,” some students may write two sentences whereas some students will write two pages… and you wanted two paragraphs. Let them know exactly what you expect because they cannot read your mind (and many times, they will not ask you in an online snow day!)
When you are typing online, you should write in lists instead of paragraphs. This is easier for students to read. All of my instructions are bulleted in my blended/online days (see below).
If you cannot read Spanish, my directions are:
- Watch the videos and write a list of the vocabulary words.
- Listen to the videos again and write the theme.
- Also, write down any words that you want to remember.
- You should at least write down 8 words per video.
- You are going to use the list tomorrow when we talk about the videos.
Within my LMS (learning management system), I also have a few tips. I typically create a different page for the snow day. I can link this page in our calendar. Also, at the top of the page, I list everything they must do that day. Below, I put the different activities in order.
You can see the list above. They needed to complete a journal entry and watch two EdPuzzle videos. I posted the journal theme and the EdPuzzle videos below. Students can always reference the top to see if they have done it.
Additionally, you should try to think of ideas that students will enjoy and mimic what they may do in class. These days should replace an actual class and should not just be more homework or rote practice. I really like Zaption and EdPuzzle. These two sites allow you to embed any YouTube video and add questions. You can think of it as an extremely interactive lecture. It also provides great feedback to teachers to see students’ progress.
Many teachers use Kahoot which is engaging in class. Quizizz is very similar, but it can be assigned on a virtual day. Students can also still “compete” against each other, but it can be completed asynchronously. It is also good because students receive instant feedback via memes.
Students can also complete discussions using Linoit, TodaysMeet or VoiceThread. TodaysMeet is better if the students and teacher are participating at a set time together. Linoit and VoiceThread can be done periodically.
One of my other favorite ideas is to have the students create a quick video explaining a topic. They can do this to summarize what they have learned, and it is more exciting to them than just writing. However, many students become too excited with special effects and editing. Make sure you explain the time limit and description to them, so they do not go overboard.
Finally, make sure you have had students complete similar activities in class. They can quickly become overwhelmed with brand new technologies. You can typically also link to YouTube tutorials if you feel that students may have a question.