Technology initiative helps school avoid make-up days

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been a rough winter with a lot of days off for students, and a lot of aggravation about how to make up the lost instructional time. But one local school had it all figured out — keep the learning process going from home.

WAVY.com took a trip over to Peninsula Catholic High School after learning of their new use of “digital instruction.” At the start of this school year, the school spent upwards of $80,000 on a technology initiative that paid off big when the bad weather blew in.

“The kids, this is how they learn,” said Principal Janine Franklin. “This is 21st Century learning, and anyone who isn’t heading in this direction will be. Your teacher’s are going to email you your assignment and then you’ll have both instruction and assignments to do. We’re very adventurous here and willing to step outside the box and take some risks and see what happens. It certainly wasn’t going to hurt us to try it.”

Franklin said it’s the wave of the future right here in Hampton Roads. Students at Peninsula Catholic have much more than books, pens and paper at their fingertips. As long as students have Wifi, they can work in the classroom or access their documents away from campus.

Franklin said the new technology has truly come in handy this semester with all the snow days, allowing her to do a test run of distance learning. And the superintendent approved.

“Even though we were out three days, I had all my teachers explain what they had done and how they communicated instruction,” Franklin said. “We can do kind of a flipped classroom, where we videotape the lesson and then are able to present those to the students and give an assignment so they can work at home. We don’t have to come in on Good Friday. We don’t have to cut it short. We don’t have to come in on a Saturday. This is really going to change next year’s inclement weather policy and how things work. A day off for snow is still a day off for snow, but it’s not going to be a day off for school.”

The school has found that with the technology there’s so much they can do. One digital learning day turned into a regular classroom day. And when the next storm arrived the plan was set. Instead of coming in over spring break for additional makeup days, students will have a week to do assignments on their own pace and schedule. As long as it’s turned in by the scheduled time and it’s time stamped, it’s done. Teachers are in the process of making video lessons now.

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