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February 11, 2014 Digital Learning Never Takes A Snow Day! By Erin Klein
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    There are several digital tools that allow teachers to stay connected on snow days as well as resources that let kids keep learning, even when they're stuck at home. Thanks to my friend, Sean Junkins, I've been able to bounce ideas around for creative ways to tackle this winter weather. We have had several snow days and cold days here in Michigan this year. As soon as we returned from winter break, we were greeted with additional time off due to severe weather conditions. Sadly, when we returned to school many students were sick. When our schedule seemed to get back to normal, we were hit with a wave of cold that prevented us from attending school. Needless to state, digging deep into our curriculum has been quite the creative challenge.  

    Luckily, I love a good challenge! Though I've missed my students dearly, I've enjoyed the opportunity to connect with my families in a different way. We have Skyped, had Google+ Hangouts, and submitted assignments online. I even created a class website to be the central hub for shared work and accessing resources. Being pushed creatively is a welcomed venture.  


    Creating a Class Website

    Why have a class site? For me, I appreciate having one spot to store all forms of media. Users can also access the site during any part of the day whether at school or at home. As we are all aware, trying to remember several site links, passwords, apps, and dates can get overwhelming. That's why I like keeping it all under one umbrella, a class site.  

    Even though my district has a secure page for me to host content and share pictures, I am more comfortable working with Weebly sites. I still use my district site, but I also include a link on that site to connect families to my class Weebly site. I've been an early user of Weebly sites for years. In fact, when I taught middle school, I had a different Weebly website for each content area I taught. I would embed our Schoology links, class textbook links, and district resource links directly within my site. Additionally, each lesson was embedded within the site as well.  

    A few of my past Weebly sites:

    (click the sites below to connect)

    I have many more examples; those are just a few of my favorites. They're so easy to do that my sister even created one for her baby shower.  

    What to Include in Your Class Site

    Deciding what pages and features to host on your class site can be the "writer's block" of website creation. That's why I keep it simple. I always like to think backwards: what is it that I envision on the site? This year, I knew I needed a space to house my student's digital work. I also knew that parents would enjoy seeing their child's photos as they worked in class. Lastly, I wanted a separate place for students to be able to access their online portfolios. Therefore, I set up the following three sections on my landing page: portfolios, photos, and projects.

    I also wanted a space for each content area. Therefore, I added a separate page for each subject area across the top of the site. This way, if we did have a snow day or an absent classmate, the child could still access the information.   

    In social studies, we've been studying the branches of government. So, on our social studies class page, I've added a link to the Sheppard Software Branches of Government game along with embedding a complimentary TED-Ed video for kids that explains the branches' responsibilities. Now the children can access the information from class, home, or on the go!


    Goodies For Your Class Site

    There are honestly too many wonderful resources to share within one post. I've done my best to consolidate a collection of goodies I haven't yet shared on Scholastic. If I've accidently posted a repeated resource, that just means it must be really great!

    The tools below can be linked or embeded within your class site. Some of the resources provide interactive games for students to play while others may share videos your students can learn from by viewing. eduClipper is a fantastic NEW site that allows students to clip their digital content to boards, and teachers can push assignments to certain students or groups of students — awesome (and Adam Bellow, the creator, just developed a free app, too!).

    • StarfallStarfall is a free website that teaches children how to read and write in English. Designed for first grade, Starfall is also useful for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and second grade.

    • Science4Us: This site is an interactive standards-based science curriculum that provides foundational skills for kindergarten through second grade students.

    • eduClipper: eduClipper is a free educational social platform for educators and students. They make it easy for educators and students to explore, share, and create awesome content!

    • Sheppard Software: Fun, free, online learning games and activities such as educational shareware, choose from prediction, subject learning, or math software. 

    • StorylineOnlineStreaming video program featuring famous people reading children's books aloud.

    • TED-EdUse engaging videos on TED-Ed to create customized lessons. You can use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons.

    • ABCya: Kid's educational computer games and activities. ABCya is the leader in free educational kids computer games and activities for elementary students to learn on the web.

    • Your students' work: this one is easy . . . highlight the awesomeness your kids do!

    Be sure to check out all of my Scholastic posts for more wonderful tech tools for your class site. One of my recent posts includes five of my favorite tools! Be sure to click here and check that one out for some real gems.



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