Severe weather teaching?

With snow falling steadily outside and roads already being closed for public safety I expect quite a few Aberdeenshire schools to be at least partially closed today. Last year a number of teaching days were lost and schools criticised for not ensuring alternative teaching opportunities were available. As a Computing teacher it seemed an easy solution would be to set up an electronic link between classes and myself, so I signed up for and then published an email address where pupils could contact me with questions about lessons, submit homework or share educational links. Over the year it has proved a useful teaching tool in keeping in touch with my classes.

In addition my department worked hard to publish revision notes and tasks on a Google Site to enable classes to be more responsible for their own education rather than wait for the next spoonful. We had investigated use of Glow but felt the extra level of security reduced its usefulness. Many pupils in the past used Glow security as an excuse to not engage in online learning and, at that time, the site was not embedded in all curricular areas. There are advantages to using the secure Glow environment: discussion groups, online courses via Glow Learn, live chat via Glow Meet so the potential to use this as an effective severe weather teaching tool is great!

Google Docs which can be shared between teacher and pupil and collaborated on in real time also offers fantastic virtual classroom possibilities. I now regularly use this in class and since introduction in June my pupils have grown comfortable using the system.

I’ve recently been trained to use Quia – an online assessment management system. Questions can be uploaded and distributed to classes or differentiated by pupil. I found that as the quizzes are HTML videos, audio and animation can be embedded which could be very useful!

I haven’t tried the following resources yet but reflect that they may play a big part in creating a virtual classroom on demand:
– Twiducate
– Twitter (if not blocked)
– Wikispaces
– YouTube

If pupils have time to get comfortable with the technology in class then it is far more likely you will make contact with them during lost teaching days. What do you think?