It is 5:30 AM on a weekday during the winter and the phone rings. That can only mean one thing, SNOW DAY! I have to admit, at that moment, I do not feel like the 15 year veteran, sixth grade teacher I am, but rather, I feel like one of my sixth grade students. I roll back over in bed and fall back asleep, only to get woken up by my wife as she gets up to get ready for work (seems like she is extra loud getting ready on snow days...nah, she wouldn't do that, would she?). I tell her to, "Keep it down. I'm trying to sleep. I've got a snow day." That goes over about as well as getting a snowball in the face.
Living in Pennsylvania, snow days are part of the school year and one of the great perks about being a teacher, unless you end up having too many of them. Then you have to make them up in the summer. Then they quickly become an inconvenience. They can also become an inconvenience with what you had planned for class those days. Inspired by Matt Miller's Ditch Summit session with Alice Keeler, I thought about what they shared and how I could use that to connect with my sixth grade students on snow days.
Now one thing I wanted to ensure, was that a snow day was still something to look forward to for my students. I knew whatever I created for them on a snow day, needed to be creative, collaborative, and fun. I wanted my students to be comfortable. I wanted them to be able to stay in their PJ's, drinking hot chocolate, sitting in their favorite chair, listening to their favorite music, all while in the comforts of their own home doing some math and finding relevance in it.
So I decided to use the power of Google Docs and create a Google Slides for a snow day. Below is simple breakdown of it, followed by a link to my Snow Day Class document.
I decided to use Google Slides to make a collaborative document called "Snow Day Class." It is ready to go in case of a snow day, in Google Classroom. This document will be made available for everyone to edit if and when a snow day comes. While all at our homes, we can still collaborate and communicate as if we were all in class together.
In slide one, I have the directions for the snow day class. While the students will be asked to answer the questions I pose to them, part of the directions are for students to view their classmates' work and thinking and give quality feedback by posting comments on each other's slides. I want my students to be sharing their ideas with each other and learning from each other, as if we were all in class together, even if we are not. Slide two is my question slide, which is where I will ask all of my snow day questions. The rest of the slides are the students'. They find an open slide, add their name to it, and begin following along. The idea is very similar to a Twitter chat, only using Google Docs.
Where and When:
I also created a Google Drawing that I posted under the "About" section of my Google Classroom for my students to reference. It is a simple document that tells students where the snow day class takes place and what time it begins.
I do not expect all 29 of my students to participate in the snow day class when we do have a snow day, but the fantastic thing about Google Docs is that they are living documents. Whether it is a hour later, a day later, a week later, or a month later, students can always go back and add to it or simply review it. So if some of my students are entrepreneurs out shoveling snow and can't make it during the snow day class time, they can look and add to it later.
In case you do get a snow day, and would like a copy of my snow day document, click here and then make a copy. Only thing I can't share with you is my shovel. I just might need that.