Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
David Cook and Beth Peterson with the state education department’s Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement, visited a sampling of NTI districts in late March to review their programs. Cook listed several emerging ways in which different media were being used on NTI days. Some teachers were using YouTube to collect evidence of student work, he said, especially for performing arts or project-based activity. Others used Kentucky Education Television programming on which to base assignments for students without Internet access.
Many of the online learning management systems that districts use also have mobile apps that students took advantage of. “You can do a lot of things on a cellphone and a lot more kids have cellphones than have access to the Internet,” Cook said.
It’s not unusual for districts to work with their public libraries and similar sites to provide Internet access during snow days, but Cook pointed to what he called a best practice initiated by Mason County Schools. The district worked with its local YMCA and Boys and Girls Club to provide internet hubs, along with wired community centers and churches in outlying, rural areas.
“They opened their centers to kids and then if teachers lived in their area, they could come, if they could get there, and set up shop and have their computer there to work with the kids,” he said.
The Owsley County district became one of a handful in the nation to win federal approval to deliver school meals to community hubs on snow days, Peterson said, something other districts now have expressed interest in doing. This kind of sharing of ideas also reflects what she calls the “cross-district communication” that has developed with the NTI program, and she added that she would expect to see districts exchanging locally designed online courses in the future.