Are you sick of tacking on days at the end of the school year due to all the snow days from earlier in the year? Now is the time to start preparing for virtual learning days so you can conquer the polar vortex next school year.
I had the opportunity to chat with Jen LaMaster, Assistant Principal, at Brebeuf Jesuit High School in Indianapolis about how they implemented virtual learning days this winter. Check out these three guidelines from Jen to see how Brebeuf ensured successful learning even when the snow was piled high.
#1: Get approval first.
Every state and type of institution is different in terms of how you get consent for virtual learning days, be sure to check your state’s requirements. Brebeuf Jesuit High School received approval in Indiana by meeting the following requirements:
- Requirement: Prove or vouch that the kids have internet access at home.
Proof point: Brebeuf has survey data to show this.
- Requirement: Illustrate what tools you have for students to access digital content online.
Proof point: Brebeuf is using both Edline and Google Apps
- Requirement: Prove students have hardware access.
Proof point: Brebeuf has a BYOD policy, so they are able to show their students have access to hardware.
- Requirement: Prove that kids did something that day.
Proof point: Many people are reporting the number of logins within their learning management system. They have to turn this data in by June 1st. Brebeuf will also be collecting sample lesson plans to turn in.
For more information check out the Indiana Department of Education online learning requirements and be sure to look up your state requirements as well.
#2: Prepare teachers in advance.
After receiving approval for virtual learning days, Brebeuf made sure their teachers were prepared in advance. Jen LaMaster recommends taking the following steps to keep your staff up to speed:
- Send out an email blast to all teachers.
- Talk to department chairs about expectations.
- Send out an EdTech Newsletter and provide examples of how other teachers have set up virtual learning classrooms.
- Show teachers how to create content including videos and other interactive multimedia options to post to their Edline class pages.
#3: Make your announcement clear.
When school is cancelled due to inclement weather, Brebeuf makes their virtual learning day announcement clear by communicating through multiple channels. Brebeuf takes the following actions to ensure effective communication:
- Send out an electronic newsletter to all families.
- Post an alert on your website.
- Announce it on the local news channels.
- Post it on Twitter.
At Brebeuf, teachers also make sure that students understand the expectations for virtual learning days in advance. They post the virtual learning announcement on their Edline class page. The student activities are visibly outlined and teacher’s virtual office hours are listed for when students can ask questions so teachers don’t have to be online all day.
When asked how their virtual learning days were received Jen LaMaster said, “Students and parents were thrilled.”
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