Grant Co., an original participant in KDE's non-traditional instruction days pilot, ready to use the bad weather learning option for third straight year

Grant County News, Williamstown, Dec. 22, 2016

Snow learning keeps GC Schools moving
By Bryan Marshall

For the past three years, bad winter weather may have meant no classes for Grant County Schools, but that didn’t stopped the learning.

Grant County was one of 13 original districts who applied to utilize snow learning days, which have students work on assignments outside of class so days called off for inclement weather are counted as school days. The district used five snow learning days in the first year, followed by three last school year.

This year’s first snow learning day was Dec. 13 as frigid temperatures and a wintry mix led to school being called off.

“For us, it is all about the learning, not necessarily the number of days,” said Grant County Schools Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Wright. “We feel our process has been refined from the first year of implementation and the quality of the assignments for students has increased. The first year of snow learning was definitely the most difficult, but we listened to feedback from our teachers, students and parents and made a huge switch last year. Our administrative teams work in the summer to make sure we are ready to go with a proactive communication plan for all stakeholders. While we may have a few issues, they are certainly not major and we have been able to work through them easily.”

Parents and students receive the expectations and the process for snow learning assignments early in the school year. At the elementary level, students complete a projectbased learning assignment that incorporates all content areas.

“This year, our project is based on Healthy Living and Consumerism, and will conclude with a district wide Healthy Living Fair where students have the opportunity to present their learning to others,” Wright said.

At the middle and high school, students are working on a personalized learning project using Edgenuity, an online, blended learning model.

At the high school level, students receive a quarter credit for their completed work and at the middle school, accountability is tied to their reading and math classes, said Wright.

This year, there are 72 districts in the state who have a non-traditional instruction plan. Originally, the Kentucky Department of Education offered the option for nontraditional instructional days to help districts who missed an average of 20 or more days of school during a three year span. However, House Bill 211 removed the 20-day requirement making all districts eligible to apply for non-traditional student attendance days.

“Grant County will typically miss double digit school days in a year, so having an opportunity to promote continued learning, even when schools is closed, was important for our district,” Wright said. “As we look to promote more personalized learning for our students, our snow learning days are a first step toward embracing additional enhanced learning opportunities outside the classroom.”

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