Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Day by Laura

We are in the early hours of what might be a blizzard, or at least a pretty big storm.  By the end of the day yesterday, our head of school had sent a note to parents explaining that we would be closed today, and that teachers were making plans to have learning continue-- through digital means.

I've taken a look at my browser history to see what that meant for me today.  Here is a summary:

I slept in, checked email on my iPad, and since it wasn't snowing, went to the gym as I would have on a normal school day.  Came home, ate oatmeal (nice, since I usually eat cold food in the car on the way from the gym to school).  Also stopped at Starbucks for a soy latte, another snow day goodie.

Opened my laptop around 10:15am to post a snow day assignment for my students. 

Around 10:30 I had a conference call with some colleagues, at another school, who wanted to talk about what it was like to have students bring a laptop of their choosing to school rather than require the same device for all.

Around 11:00 I read student work.  They are writing scripts to be turned into commercials.  I gave them feedback through Google docs and wrote to teams suggesting that they finish scripts today.

Read a peripatetic article, in Education Week, about schools using cloud computing.  Thought it might be interesting for the folks I had conference called with earlier so sent it to them.

Read an email from a colleague about a twelve year old who sent a balloon into the high atmosphere.  Followed the link and watched the video.  Got goosebumps and dizzy-- it was that cool.  Tweeted the link.  Around noon I wrote to the colleague who had send me the link and included the others he cc'ed.  One wrote back to say, "Let's build our own high altitude balloon," generating  a brief flurry of exchanges with links to product options.  (Stay tuned.)

Read an article about the importance of introverted kids learning to participate in class.  Only agreed in part, which made me remember that I had an open tab on my browser with an ASCD webinar, about using a strength based approach to working with neurodiversity in students.  On the way to the webinar video, I check my Cosm account website to see if the soil temperature probes we buried earlier in the week had variations in the readings since the snow had started. (I'm especially keeping my eye on the one 6" down to see if we can show that snow acts as an insulator.)

Before watching the neurodiversity webinar I wrote to some colleagues and sent them the link to it, in case they were interested.  Then I grabbed my knitting, put on headphones and started to watch.  About ten minutes into it I realized that I was going to finish the knitting and be left with nothing to knit during the storm.  I hit pause and drove to Michaels, spending too much money.

Returning home with enough yarn to knit my way through the next few years of snow days, I finally watched the webinar video. Checked email, and then read a MiddleWeb blog about STEM-- it was good.

Around 3:30 and back to email.  One student needed the link to WeVideo, since that is where their movies are being made.  Two other teams had written to have me edit their scripts.  One wrote to send a link to her team's finished video on WeVideo, making me happy since it meant her team had had a collaborative snow day!

A friend, who is an English teacher, contacted me through Facebook to share some links about the Brooklyn Academy of Music's The Laramie Project Cycle.  (My son is in a school production of Laramie this weekend-- well, at least we hope there will be at least a Saturday performance!)  I spent a little time watching those videos and sending them to my son.  It was now pushing 4:00pm.

Was it a productive day? Yes, and without sacrificing the whimsy of found time that snow days have brought to teachers and students for decades past. I didn't do anything that wasn't interesting to me.  I have a feeling of being somewhat caught up on my sleep/reading/watching. I hope my students feel that I was accessible to them, and that they were able to have a similar day of whimsy and interest.


  1. How are you finding the use of WeVideo going? Maybe you can leave a reply on this blog post. I tried it out, but could not get the final version of a video I made with narration. Curious to know how your students are doing with it. Snowed-in in Connecticut, so my day has been a lot like yours, but have not been outside all day. Here is the post I did on WeVideo. Not sure it I should recommend it to other teachers:

    Feel free to comment on the post, or...

    You can also tweet me at @judyarzt

  2. Nice to meet you, Judy.

    I am anticipating some bumps this week as students edit. It will be worth it if the collaborative aspect works. I'll keep you posted.

    Since you posted your sample on January 25, WeVideo made a big update. You might find it smoother now. There are more options for staging the features.


  3. Thanks for your reply. Yes, I got some tweets about upgrades. The concept is great, especially for those who don't have access to MovieMaker or iMovie. Guess I was just hoping it would be as seamless as those tools. I will try to make another video and compare it to one created with iMovie using the same content, and see how it goes. Even if the process is not as smooth, if WeVideo offers students another option and is easy to use, it will be worth recommending. I was not prepared to recommend it based on three videos I tried making with it a few weeks ago. I believe the person who tweeted me is an organizer or marketer for the site. After a few tweets back and forth, she has yet to tweet back. I do appreciate your reply. It always helps to hear about tools from the mouth of a teacher who has experience using it. Moreover, you've used it with students.