Friday, March 16, 2012

Virtual Day

March SOLC

The Ides of March have come and gone. We are more then half way through March. How did that happen? It is a short weekend for us as yesterday was a Virtual Day / P.D. (in service). It is never fun to have a shortened weekend, but as the days fly by, heading to break, it will be OK.

What is a Virtual Day and what does it entail? If something were to happen so we could not actually attend school, we need a way to continue delivering instruction. The reasons could be anything from a rain day to a flu epidemic to regional tensions or evacuation. Having the ability in theory does not mean that everyone would remember how to access what they needed in reality. So, we practice. The other benefit of Virtual Days is that they allow for a longer summer as nearly a week is delivered 'virtually' throughout the year. (One per quarter.)

The instruction can be delivered via a 'flipped classroom' model, by extending the thinking with virtual activities, or through online collaboration. I tend to use a combination. When we had a week of Virtual Days last year due to rain I video taped my math lessons. (It feels very odd to teach to an empty room, writing on the wipe board, and leaving pause time for students to think.) I also recorded audio clips so we could continue our Read Aloud. I provide them the opportunity for quizzes via Google Forms. Google Docs is how I have my students turn in anything written and how they collaborate with one another. Yesterday, for the first time, I had them doing some screen sharing with Skype. (Can't wait to hear what they thought about that!)


  1. This is so interesting, the idea of having virtual day scheduled into the school year calendar. I guess it's nice to have a longer summer vacation if you don't end up using the days. I think 2 years ago, when there was swine flu epidemic, we had to close school for a week. We delivered instruction from home, giving students assignments through e-mail and the internet and I ended up videotaping a mini-lesson for writing workshop for my students. It did feel weird giving a lesson to a camera in my room by myself. It sounds like you are doing a good job delivering instruction through these virtual days!

  2. It is so bizarre to me that this is a natural part of your teaching world. I cannot imagine losing the face to face connection with my students entirely, but I can completely see how, with that connection already in place, it would work, maybe even be more engaging, to pursue our studies virtually for short periods of time. Hmmm. Food for thought.

  3. Hmmm. That is interesting. Probably all schools should do that here too. There have been times when we can't get to school due to weather, and this way we wouldn't have to make up school in the summer. The planning for it would be interesting though. I'm assuming you had to have the equipment at home to do this recording. It is done somewhat with older students I believe, in our district, if they are home with an extended illness, but not sure. It would be handy then so they wouldn't have to delay their graduation.

  4. Interesting....I'm not sure that I'm "all in" but (as the others have said) it certainly has possibilities.

  5. It's interesting to read the different ways you give opportunities for your students to learn during the Virtual Days. We have a plan in case we need to close down the school for a longer period. I don't think it has ever been discussed to try it out to see whether the plan works.