Saturday, February 17, 2018

Winter Storm Warning: Saturday Into Sunday

Surprise, surprise. The National Weather Service has upgraded all of Berkshire County to a Winter Storm Warning. The warning period is from 7 tonight to 7 tomorrow morning. Snow should start between 8 and 9 PM.

While this storm will not be a blockbuster, it could easily drop half a foot on us by Sunday morning. This means the snow will come down heavily in the middle of the night.

Enjoy this snow as it will not be around for long. Temps into the 40s tomorrow afternoon. We're now seeing 70s--yes, you read that correctly--on Wednesday. That's absurd.

Winter's back.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Plowable Snow For Saturday Night

Happy (almost) vacation, everybody. The GSD Staff has jumpstarted the week off a little early with a weekend jaunt to the eastern part of the state, but that doesn't mean we can't still do our jobs.

It turns out we have a Winter Storm Watch over here in Boston for late Saturday night, which means we could see a Winter Weather Advisory for the Berkshires, especially the southern half of the county.

A coastal storm looks to be attempting a sneak attack on New England. The expected time window of this storm is midnight Saturday until 8 or 9 AM Sunday. You might need extra time to get to church or hockey practice Sunday morning due to 3-4 inches of snow on the roadways.

It has definitely started looking ugly around the Berkshires with half-melted snow piles and patchy ice and muddy yards and fields. This storm should clean things up for a few days until it starts to melt away again during vacation week. Alas.

We're stuck in this warm pattern for at least a few weeks. We will likely hit 60 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then temps will slip back into the 40s for the rest of the week. Let's hope we're getting this warmth out of our system in preparation for another couple of rounds of winter in early March.

Enjoy the snow on Sunday!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

How Digital Learning Could Increase the Number of Snow Days...But There's a Catch

Digital learning. Online courses. Chromebooks and iPads in the classroom.

They all spell the "death" of the snow day. Or so the experts say.

As computer technology embeds itself deeper and deeper into the classroom at all levels, it won't be long before students are required to check in and complete assignments, via a digital portal, posted on their teachers' websites. Many schools around the country have already gone to "digital learning days"--for example, Farmington River Regional School District uses "blizzard bags"--and the snow day offers a great opportunity to put new, glitzy digital learning technologies to the test.

Does this mean the death of the snow day?

In terms of the pure joy of finding out through a robocall, or this website, that students don't have to get dressed and go to school, that excitement will still be palpable. But what won't feel so great is that the release from all academic responsibility will not be present (presuming students actually did all their homework the night before).  Instead, students will have to check in with their teachers' web spaces and complete homework assignments online during the snow day. This is happening already in classes. If it isn't happening in your school, it is just around the corner.

So how do these digital learning days work?

As long as schools can prove that students are completing assignments and learning when they work from home--and learning management systems (LMSs) such as Canvas, Moodle, Schoology and Edmodo are very good at collecting the data schools will need--then state Boards of Education will allow these "snow days" to count as "time on learning."

(For those wondering about students who don't have reliable internet at home, provisions are in place to allow students to make up snow day assignments once students return to school. In most cases, students will have a few days after a snow day to complete the work for it to count as an assignment.)

Because doing assignments at home while the snow piles up on Route 7 can now count as a school day, it is the GSD Staff's professional opinion that Superintendents, knowing that they have a backup learning plan in place, will have the leeway to call more snow days. Why risk an accident when students can complete lessons at home?

Yes, these digital learning days will kill the soul of the snow day, but they will eventually lead to more opportunities for students to stay home from school.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Usual Suspects

The temps have dropped into the high teens, which means some untreated side roads could be slippery this morning. Most schools will be session for a full day, but we do have a few delays to report from our region.


Farmington River
Mohawk Trail
Southwest Vermont SU
Berline (NY)
Hoosick Fals (NY)
New Lebanon (NY)