Published in the January 17, 2018 edition


WAKEFIELD — The early reviews are in and according to school Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith, the first occasion to implement the “Learn Anywhere Project” on snow days was a success.

School was cancelled on Thursday, Jan. 4 and Friday, Jan. 5 due to a snow storm that dumped over a foot of snow on the town.

The idea is that kids are assigned school work to do on days when school is cancelled due to snow and can interact with their teachers online. As a result, schools will not have to make up cancelled days at the end of the year.

Dr. Smith told the School Committee last week that she received “tremendously positive feedback at all levels” regarding the first experience with Learn Anywhere on snow days. She said that she received only one email expressing concern.

Smith also said that she received data from School Department Director of Technology Jeff Weiner regarding student participation in the Learn Anywhere project on the Jan. 4 and 5 snow days. A total 2,326 faculty, staff and students accessed their Google accounts from home, Smith said, and Google Classroom was active at a level commensurate to a regular school day, according to the data Weiner provided.

Smith said that she plans to put a package together for the School Committee to show some of the creative assignments that teachers and students worked on over the snow days, many of which incorporated pictures and video.

After the winter season, Smith said that she plans to survey parents, students and teachers to gather input on their experiences with the Learn Anywhere project for school cancellations.

But Smith insisted that the first experience with the program “could not have been more successful than it was.” She attributed the success to extensive planning and preparation on the part of teachers and students along with the cooperation of parents.

On days when school is cancelled due to snow (like it was today), students access assignments using the platform identified by their classroom teacher, either “Google Classroom” or the Learn Anywhere web site. Students are able to view assignments on a home computer, smartphone or other device. Teachers post learning expectations for students no later than the morning of the cancelled school day, but may prepare and post assignments earlier. Students are expected to submit an end product as evidence of completed work.

According to the Learn Anywhere web site, snow day assignments are kept to a reasonable length as deemed appropriate for each grade level. Kids in kindergarten to second grade are given about one hour of work. Students in grades 3-4 are expected to complete about 90 minutes of work. Galvin Middle School students are given about 20 minutes worth of work for each subject that would have met on the cancelled school day. High school students are expected to do about 30 minutes worth of work per class that would have met that day.

Student work will never be due on the first day that students return to school after a snow day, according to the Learn Anywhere web site. This is in order to ensure that all students have equitable access to complete their assignments, in case a student does not have access to a device, loses power or left resources at school on an unexpected snow day.