This winter, the southeast experienced several days of snow and ice. Typically, that means those two words students long to hear, and administrators don’t,-- “snow day.” But, in the era of digital learning, snow days may become a thing of the past, saving school districts the challenge of making up missed days.
Although most districts have built-in inclement weather make-up days, school closings take their toll on the instructional calendar. Districts are challenged with adding days to the end of the year (impacting graduation dates), lengthening the school day (impacting bus schedules), or canceling planned holidays (impacting family vacations). Educational momentum is affected, and students lose valuable time preparing for their end-of-year tests.
One of the largest districts in the U.S. implemented “digital learning days” this school year. Instead of closing schools during inclement weather – which, for this southeastern district, means 180,000 students miss school. Classworks instruction is one of the resources teachers use to support students on digital learning days. Classworks is made up of units of K-8 math and language arts instruction combined with the tools to automatically provide individualized lessons for every student.
Mary Hennessey, a 2nd-grade teacher, showed us how a “DLD day” works for her students.
“The ability for my students to work on Classworks lessons at home means they don’t lose a valuable day of instruction! It saves me time trying to find reliable lessons that both support what I’m teaching and can easily be added to my LMS. I can be confident they are working on standards-based lessons even when they can’t be in class,” says Mary.
Once school closure is announced, teachers post their assignments on their course pages. When students log in from home, they see the variety of lessons their teacher has made available for the day.
“I create a tab called DLD. I use Classworks units of instruction to support learning at home,” explains Mary. “Classworks makes it simple to add links to their standards-based units that cover the topics I am teaching that week. For example, the week we had bad weather, we were learning measurements. I searched for Classworks lessons on measurements and easily added them to my DLD tab for the students to work on at home.”
Classworks is compliant with IMS Global’s Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) Standards. As an open system, Classworks units of instruction can be easily added to a district’s Learning Management System, whether that’s Google Classroom, Edmodo, Canvas, Brightspace, or others.
Mary says, “For me, it’s as easy as selecting the subject in Classworks, doing a quick search for the skill that I want them to work on, then adding that lesson to my DLD page. Once they complete and submit their lessons, I can view their scores on each lesson. The Classworks scores factor into their class grade for the day.”
Because the scores for Classworks lessons are reported back, Mary can easily keep track of what and how they are doing at home. She uses the digital learning day to monitor how students are progressing on their assignments and conference with them. She can easily see in real-time whether students are online or not.
“I call them at home during the day, and we talk about their lessons. I’m able to help them if they are struggling and make sure they stay engaged, even at home.”
The next school day, Mary reviews the digital learning day assignment scores with each student and reassigns lessons that need extra attention. Classworks is designed to help students not only learn a skill but apply it in a variety of ways. Mary has a large population of ELL students in her class and finds that practicing skills in multiple ways helps students with mastery.
“If it looks like they didn’t grasp the concept, or they didn’t do their best, I can easily reassign that lesson. I can also find others that cover the same skill and assign those for additional support.”
Look for programs that are IMS Global certified, developed to their latest Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards. Classworks is committed to making it easy for students and teachers to access instruction where and when they need to.
“Our students had already missed three days of school this year due to weather. Digital learning days ensure that students receive needed instructional days, without the challenge of adding days to the school year. Instructional resources like Classworks, which seamlessly work with our LMS, help teachers maximize those instructional days for students,” explains Kassia Sutton, Principal of Mary's school.