I am very excited to announce that Tri-Valley is planning an innovative approach to dealing with inclement weather and emergency days. Public Act 100-0465 was signed into law on August 31st, 2017 and is linked HERE. This act made sweeping changes to education funding in Illinois, but also created flexibility in the definition of an “instructional day.” A memo outlining more background can be found HERE.
As many of you know, Tri-Valley is in the midst of a large scale high school remodel. Starting and ending the school year on time has taken on a new level of importance to us as we work to complete all facets of the project on schedule. This reality, coupled with the new flexibility afforded us by the State of Illinois has led us to explore and develop a plan to incorporate “Digital Learning Days” at Tri-Valley.
In the past, if a snow day were called, that “instructional day” was tacked on to the end of the school year. This extended the school year and often caused problems with scheduling because of our desire to firmly schedule AP testing, graduation ceremonies, and other end of year events. After extensive meetings with staff, we felt that a “digital day” integrated during the year could be more effective than an additional day at the end of the year for many of our students. We also will be able to definitively say that the last day of school will be May 10th for students no matter what Mother nature brings our way.
The following information provides an explanation of a digital day. A video further explaining our plans created by Dr. Mouser can be viewed here.
What is a Digital Learning Day??
A “Digital Learning Day” approach allows us to provide an “instructional day” even if our buildings are not open due to weather. If weather does not permit us to be in session, we will deploy a “Digital Learning Day.” On these days, teachers and administrators will e-mail and post assignments, lessons, and enrichment activities to parents and students by 9 am. Teachers will be available via e-mail to answer questions as they arise.
Won’t this look different at each grade level?
Each grade level of teachers will be collaborating on any digital learning day to collectively develop experiences that are grade level appropriate and ideally a continuation of what has been happening in the classroom. Examples could include a review of content in social studies, a reinforcement activity in math, a video introduction of a unit, or a spelling or writing prompt. At higher grade levels, many of our students are already engaged in digital platforms for classes utilizing google classroom or schoology. In these cases, teachers will simply assign experiences as though the student were in attendance.
Will students that cannot complete the work be penalized?
Absolutely not! We understand that internet access may not be available to everyone, and that some students may not be able to complete all tasks assigned by instructors. We also want to be clear that not all activities will need the internet to be completed. These days are meant to enhance learning and be formative in nature. Any activity that is assigned during a digital learning day will not be directly tied to a grade upon return to school. That being said, it is possible that homework will be assigned in anticipation a snow day by our instructors. Our teachers will allow students to “catch up” if needed upon our return to school.
Will this be our policy moving forward?
The short answer is that we hope that it is. However, we realize that this is a new and innovative idea that we will be analyzing and assessing along the way. We reserve the right to pull the plug if necessary. That being said, our staff is excited to innovate and lead the way toward what we believe will be a trend in public education moving forward.