DAILY INSIGHT: This ain't your 1970's snow day

By Jennifer LaMaster, CIO Advisor

It's been a rough winter here in the MidWest. Schools are scrambling to gather their 180 days in Indiana. But face it, an extra day (or 4) tacked on in May is not going to make up for the momentum lost in January. But hey folks! There are resources that can help keep the momentum and the learning going.... well beyond the four physical walls of the school building. Or as we like to say...communicate, collaborate, consume and curate... anytime/anywhere regardless of the weather (unless you lose power like we did in the January 7th storm; then you're pretty much just reading by paper and staying warm by fire #17thcenturylearning).

As I like to say, "This Ain't Your 1970's Snow Day..." Or at least it certainly doesn't have to be ... although pancakes, hot cocoa and sledding are still allowed.

Twitter #Chats

  • Simple push notifications. Send out reminders, reading links or review questions for students.
  • Class #hashtag. Asynchronous but easily searched. Say #BJPSEng9 if you teach freshmen. No need for your students to have a Twitter account (but most do)—hashtags are publicly accessible on public accounts. You could also make a class Twitter account (in which case it would be @BJPSEng9).
  • Live #chat. Set up a time (perhaps normal class time) letting students know you will be live and online. Send out prepared questions and expect answers. Or just be there to answer student questions. Use a class hashtag for students to follow or read later.

Google Apps for Education (aka GAFE)

Had a small-group activity in mind for room 218 period 3? Set up a Google Doc and have students answer questions collaboratively from home. A shared Google Presentation allows students to view or view & edit materials easily. If you have a presentation all ready for “live” class, throw it up to a shared class Folder and have students view outside of class.

Google Forms

Google Forms can be turned into a quiz simply by asking content specific questions. Or they can be designed more like a handout where students answer/practice/reflect on topic areas you wanted to cover face to face.

You can create a G+ Community for just your class. This makes a group page where you can upload readings, videos, and links and have students comment on them. Help pages for this feature can be found at Create a Google+ Community.

Try a HangOut

Feeling like a live chat? Set up a Google Hangout on Air. The added benefit is this records the discussion for later viewing (by students are not able to join the live feed). Regular Hangouts work too by clicking the New Hangout button in your G+. I have seen this used for quiz review, new material or discussion. A detailed how to can be found here.

***Student must be in your G+ Community to “hangout”


A favorite of Brebeuf Social Studies types, Edmodo looks like Facebook but you must be an educator to make a page. Students are invited in with a class password. Post videos, readings and links and begin the discussion.


Since we are a GAFE school, every student and faculty member has an AMDG account that comes with YouTube access. (Not a GAFE school? Your regular GMail account works). You can upload a self-created video (via Camtasia or WeVideo) or edit directly into YouTube. More details here.Class Blog or Website

Several of our Brebeuf faculty have created their own class pages using various free blogging tools. Check out Edublogs, Blogger and Weebly to start.

Go for the Free Trials

Try a streaming conference product… heck, it’s a free trial. Check out GoToMeeting or AdobeConnect.

Winter can’t last forever, right?

Jen LaMaster is director of faculty development for Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. This blog is cross posted on her blog, Ed Tech Reflections.