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The Department has received inquiries regarding so-called “blizzard bags,” assigned work sent home with students in advance of an expected storm. In many cases, this work appears to be very similar to normal homework assignments; there is educational value, but it does not necessarily meet the standard for structured learning time. For this approach to count toward the student learning time requirements, school districts must ensure that such work is structured learning time, is substantial, and has appropriate oversight and teacher involvement.
Blizzard Bags in Burlington
As expected, we have received numerous inquiries from parents and news media about our Blizzard Bag proposal which must be approved by both the Burlington School Committee and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In all honesty, we have not yet articulated what the work will be that students will be asked to do in grades K-12. The plans will be constructed over the next month or so and then brought forth to our School Committee.
While I can’t tell you specifically what our Blizzard Bags will be, I can tell you some of the qualities I think these assignments should have. But before, I go down that path I think it is important that we recognize this wonderful opportunity we have before us. We have been presented with a chance to discuss learning and the countless activities that we could offer students to learn outside of our schools. We need to embrace this collaborative endeavor and ensure that we include staff, students, parents, and others with experience in this type of endeavor in the planning. Lastly, we need to be honest with ourselves regarding the fact that this will not be perfect. Some of the learning opportunities that we create will work well and others will not. But isn’t that what happens as we plan lessons during our 180-day school year anyway?
So here are a few of the opportunities that I think Blizzard Bags should provide students…
- Digital learning
- Teacher Feedback
- Peer Feedback