Source: TechRav Blog
It seems strange to be writing a post about the end of the snow day while digging out from 2 more inches of snow after missing school this past Thursday and Friday to an epic snow storm on the eastern seaboard of the United States, with 2 snow days the week before, and 2-4 more inches of snow expected in my neck of the woods for this Monday night into Tuesday. Ughhhhh! No, climate change will not mean the end of snow in my part of the world. If anything, climatologists are predicting storms to become more extreme in the future. The snow day is alive and well. However, through the widespread adoption of interactive technology, the snow day no longer has to be a missed school day.
Many Yeshiva Day Schools have begun offering a lineup of Shiurim to transform the snow day into a Torah day. Some of these can be conducted as live classrooms using apps like Google Hangouts which is great because of its Google integration but only allows up to 10 users at a time. Here is a link to directions to get started with Hangouts on any computer or using the iPad app. There are many other video conferencing apps. One that I have started using with a great deal of success is zoom.us, an app which allows up to 25 simultaneous users in its free version.
Is something lost by transforming snow days into learning days?
- Snow Torah shiurim send the message that there is no break from learning Torah
- Virtual school days are good preparation for higher education and the work force.
- Sheer desperation. We really cannot afford to miss all of these learning days so anything that can help to solve this problem, which might only grow larger as we experience more drastic climate change, can be a positive development for our school.
What do you think? Do you bemoan the end of carefree snow days or welcome the new horizons that technology offers to create virtual learning opportunities? Feel free to share your thoughts.
See more at the TechRav blog.
In response to Pittinsky's post, Moshe Rosenberg, who led some snow day learning with his own students raised some reservations in a Tablet article:
Snow day learning should be nothing like daily learning. We now have the ability to use the day in ways we never could allow ourselves to use a school day. Certainly online interactivity is part of it, but that’s not enough. As evidenced above, I’m partial to the Treasure Hunt format. Treasure hunts can be used to teach facts, introduce personalities, build skills, even master particular apps. An email hunt can send kids to words in the Bible that build a sentence specifying where a treasure is to be found. A hunt through the elements of the Periodic Table can yield clues that, combined, form a person’s name. Treasure hunts are one powerful approach that can generate both fun and learning. I’m sure enterprising and creative Jewish educators can come up with many more. There is certainly room for standard distance learning Torah lectures on a snow day. But they will never produce the excitement of a kid who wakes up and says: Snow day: Color War! I’m on the White Team!