Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow Days and Block Scheduling

Written by Richard Byrne.

I'm looking at my calendar right now during SAD 17's second consecutive snow day and realizing that, as a result of snow days combined with block scheduling, when I finally see some of my kids on Friday it will have been ten days since I last saw them. Now I'm not complaining about snow days, but I am wondering what to do when I finally do see my students again. I'll have lost all momentum by Friday so I'll probably just spend the day reviewing and refreshing. This is definitely not ideal, but what else can I do?

How do those of you teaching in a block scheduled school maintain momentum when snow days create large gaps between classes? Any tricks or tips?


Ed Latham said...

by Ed Latham

Mr. Byrne, the best way to help your kids keep momentum while away for prolonged time is by using tools like Studywiz or Moodle. Studywiz is an application on the MLTI image. Moodle is available as a free download. Both programs allow teachers to set up activities, quizzes, discussions, and many other options all in a closed, safe and secure area. You could get some research and discussion going when kids are away from class.
The only downside to either option is that some of your students may not have Internet access. Those that do, could be very engaged in learning based on your creation of relevant, interactive activities. There are other distance learning tools that are available, but Studywiz and Moodle are the two most popular tools in Maine right now for keeping kids going while they are out of your class.

Jim Burke said...

Gosh, Ed, didn't we hash this through last night? :) Think about the realities of present-day school culture. Do you really think that online activities done at times other than classroom time stands a chance of being successful given how schools are presently structured? If so, point me to a good example.

Now don't get me wrong, Ed . . . I think utilization of online tools has great potential. In fact, Richard already uses web tools that are much more straight-forward and teacher-friendly than either Moodle or Studywiz. See

As you well know, I could go on about my feelings on the advantages of simplicity in online environments, but that is a topic for another day! :)

The intent of block scheduling certainly has its virtues, but to deny the issues inherent in this scheduling scheme will not suffice.


In the trenches of the classroom it presents some very real issues, not only as the result of snow days, but for many other scheduling needs.

My question would be: How do school schedules get in the way of learning? Secondary question: Are there any alternatives in organizing schools to optimize student learning?

There's the opening for your future post on the ideal school, Ed! :)