Snow Match for the Internets

Growing up, my heart leapt at the mere mention of a snowday, for I knew that a snowday meant that I got to stay home and relax. Maybe I would build a snowman or watch insane amounts of TV. If motivated I might have grabbed a shovel and hit the sidewalks to make a little cash. Whatever my chosen path, mom was always right there with grilled cheese and hot soup. The thing that wasn't there ... homework. Snowdays were akin to vacation days. Nothing to do and nothing to worry about. Mind you, I grew up in Colorado, so it took a foot or more of the white stuff before the school board would even consider closing school. My guess is that the snowday academic requirements were much the same in mid-90s North Carolina (where school closes at the mere possibility of frozen stuff falling frm the sky).

Fortunately for teachers, unfortunately for students, technology has caught up with education. Once upon a time, dissemination of knowledge happened firmly planted in a classroom seat and assignments collected in huge stacks of paper. Now, all of my direct instruction happens via video and all assignments are both sent and received via Edmodo. If students need help I am but a quick message away. So long as the lights or on and wifi is rolling, we're in business. During the month of February we essentially missed two full weeks of school. In my day this would have been a disaster when faced with an unmoving AP Exam date. This year, we didn't miss a beat. I did have to cancel a lab, but for the most part the class carried on. Upon our return to school AP Bio achieved their highest class average on a unit test ... which might beg the question of the necessity of having me in class, but that's for another post.

A teacher's perspective on the intersection between technology and anticipated freedom is one thing. The opinion of the affected students is quite another. Here's what Sofia, Shahriar, and Taylor had to say about the situation.

Sofia Begins:

This week in AP Bio took place in the snowpocalypse. Many would think that no school would mean no homework or classwork. Teachers, however have found the solution…Behold the power of the Internet and Edmodo! Our class was not completely free of work, for Mr. Kite made sure we had daily assignments- kind of like a temporary online class. This consisted of numerous case studies, which included drawing not one, but two hearts and solving a bizarre case that involved a hot tub and alcohol. In addition, we kept up with our daily quizzes and video notes. Gone are the days in which we were completely free to do nothing on snow days, thanks to technology…and Mr. Kite. BUT, at least we had snow, and snowmen and snow angels, which in all were a beautiful sight.

Shahriar Adds:

This week we were only in class for ONE DAY! .. Kind of. We were still in class online with tons and tons of work that blew my brains out. So this week instead of making a snow man, I got to work through a lot of lovely case studies. One of which was about the heart which asked us to look at different functions of the circulatory system. Another case study was on a man and his wife dying in a hot tub. This was more like a crime case study if you ask me ;D. I am one to make jokes, but this activity took a look at thermoregulation along with many other factors. The final case study was an optional one. This one involved deep sea diving and how the body uses oxygen. I had a little experience with this from my internship last summer at the hyperbaric center. A lot of patients with decompression sickness came to the center for treatment. Right about now everyone in the class is probably focusing on trying to cram for the Ap Biology unit test tomorrow. A test Mr. Kite just can’t seem to postpone for even one day even though we will have plenty of school make up days -__-. I think i may have only named a small number of assignments that were assigned, but miraculously we all managed to push through it, or at least are trying to. There’s honestly not much else to say, I hope I don’t fail this test :) Sincerely Shahriar.

Taylor Concludes:

As we return to school after our impromptu winter break, AP Biology keeps moving forward. This week was all about immunity, viruses, bacteria, the creepy-crawlies and what have you. We started our week off with every student’s favorite assignment: a test. One may ask “how can you have a test after being out of school for two weeks?” I asked myself the exact same thing. But the answer lies in the fact that AP Bio doesn’t stop just because the sky decides to fall. For the past two weeks, we’ve essentially been keeping up with an online class. After we got the test out of the way, we moved on to what this week is really about. We explored the processes of innate and adaptive immunity through case studies and applied learning (aka book work). As much as we hate doing book work, being able to think critically is one of the most important aspects of doing well in any AP class. Near the end of the week, we did some independent studying on the nitty-gritty points of the immune response. As a reward for these past 5 days of school, we get to stay home for another week of winter ahem I mean spring break.