Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow Day

NY was recently hit by two major snowstorms that dumped enough snow on the ground to keep most schools closed... yes, that's right, we've recently had a couple of SNOW DAYS! There is something so incredibly special about a Snow Day and no other day can compare. A snow day is a gift... it is magical... it means fun (except if you have to shovel)... comfy clothes... snowmen... snow ball fights... doing what you want for as long as you want... exploring a new hobby... reading a good book (NOT for HW)... unexpected extra time spent with loved ones... no structure... and most importantly, no work. Yes, snow days are special and whether you are a kid still in school or an adult, whenever the possibility of a snow day comes on the radar we all secretly do the "snow dance" - you know the one! So, if these days are so incredibly special and fun and rejuvenating why don't we have more of them? I am totally serious - our schools, kids and staff need more snow days! Are you with me? Let's make it happen... NOW!!

Ok, let me explain. When I say let's have more snow days, I am not talking about praying to the weather gods or doing the snow dance every night or wearing our clothes inside/out for good luck... no, I am talking about creating our own snow days... in school! Yes, that's right - let's turn a random Tuesday or Wednesday into a snow day for our kids and us. How do we make that happen you ask? Especially if there isn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature is above 50 degrees? Well, you see, I am not talking about an actual snow day with feet of snow that makes driving conditions unsafe, keeps everyone home and leaves people dreading shoveling the day after. No... I am talking about capturing all those magical qualities of a snow day - the fun, the creativity, the unstructured activities, pursuing passions and interests with your "extra" time and maybe wearing comfy clothes (this is optional) - and build a day of learning around those qualities. Make the snow day come to life in our classrooms or in our schools... make a fun day of learning that kids will not forget. 

So, what does a snow day in school look like? I don't think there is one answer because the glory of a snow day is that it can be whatever we envision for us and our kids... remember, no two snow angels or snowmen look alike so no two snow days in school need to look alike either - let your imagine run wild! For example, we can create a day full of Project/Passion Based Learning activities that are driven by the students. We can give the children time to play with cardboard, tape and string to be creative and innovative. We can take the idea of the #GenuisHour and let it unfold over the course of day - #GenuisDay if you will! We can empower our students to pursue an interest or passion that has been on the back burner because it doesn't exactly meet the expectations laid out within the Common Core State Standards. We can encourage kids to collaborate through different games or hands-on activities - we should encourage them to come up with the activities. We can let kids read... for fun with no expectation to respond, take notes or use post-its. Teachers could line up multiple Mystery Skype sessions in one day so students can connect with others from around the world. Make it a day of service learning so children can go out into the community to make a difference; or stay in school and beautify the space! And the list can go on and on and on... 

Here is the thing... we control what happens in our schools and classrooms each and every day! We impact the tone and tempo of the day. We can decide what stays and what goes during the school day. We decide how much fun we have on any given day. We decide whether or not we can create a SNOW DAY in school... that's right, we, the educators, decide what happens in our schools. With that in mind, I think we should start considering the notion of creating a snow day in school! Maybe it only happens two or three times a year... or maybe it is once a month... whatever the frequency, trying to capture the magic of a snow day in school is something we should consider... our kids deserve it... we deserve it! Let it snow and bring on the SNOW DAY! 

Please leave a comment below and share your ideas for what we could do during our school snow day!


  1. That could not happen in my school. Every single subject is scheduled down to the last minute. I find a way to fit in Mystery Skypes and other things, but it isn't easy.And if they come in your room and you aren't teaching what is on the schedule...smh

  2. Tony, I agree. My building did something similar with two weeks in June last year. After all the state testing and post testing, we agreed -- enough was enough! http://poststar.com/news/local/something-different-final-exams-replaced-by-projects-at-area-middle/article_020ab040-d85f-11e2-ade3-0019bb2963f4.html . It was great. Thank you for writing this..plan to share with team leaders tomorrow. Happy Snow Day and Happy Me for having you for inspiration in my PLN.

  3. I tried posting a comment last night but it didn't work for some reason, so here goes take 2! Yes, I think this idea is genius. While I am not an educator (not by degree or by trade, though I am our son's first "teacher"), I think this is a wonderful idea and school's should absolutely implement "in-school" snow days. Not by saying: "Okay, no class work today! Lets whatch a DVD instead!" But by perhaps having each child bring in their favorite board game. Or having the kids work in groups to write skits and then performing them at the end of the day. Or splitting up into pairs and each buddy teach their partner something that they know how to do (blow a bubble, hula hoop, tie their laces, etc.). Or maybe even go through the paper recycling and create art projects with the found items. The possibilities are endless and this would give kids and teachers a boost and get the creative juices flowing.


  4. Tony, this is great, particularly in this day and age when society is moving too fast. Slowing things down, getting centered, and being in the moment is what snow days are all about (and what real/authentic learning is all about as well).

    Yesterday, while 90 of my 7th graders were in Frost Valley, nearly 60 were back home with us, for various reasons. We took this as an opportunity to treat these 60 kids to a day of team building and fun. We had a special breakfast together, built and launched rockets, did yoga, played ELA-based card games, made posters to promote this month's character building (anti-bullying) message, and we planned to participate in a paired reading buddy activity with kindergarteners from our elementary school across the parking lot (which was cut short due to an early dismissal, but will be revisited now that we've established this partnership).

    This was a day of "real life learning" and I was proud to be a part of planning it and to see it executed by a team of teachers, open to facilitating this day.

    And tomorrow, we take these same kids to the Cradle of Aviation Museum and to Hofstra University for a second day of authentic learning. Today, we have a "real" snow day. Can't wait for tomorrow, when we have another one. We've got to seize these opportunities whenever they present themselves!

    Way to recognize this and capture it in words...happy snow days!

    Dennis Schug @DJrSchug
    Hampton Bays Middle School

  5. Love this and so true Tony. We need to start being creative and innovative. Heck, we can create the day as an Edcamp as well, let the kids create it. Great post - I really enjoyed it! Vicki

  6. Awesome post as always. We need more "snow" days.

  7. We have a "Snowed In Day" coming up this week. Everyone will be dressed in PJs and bring their favorite books to cuddle up with. We'll be graphing how we eat our pancakes (which can only be done by eating them!!!!) drinking hot cocoa and making our own s'mores. I'm told there's also a "snowball fight" between classes where the snowballs have sight words on them! I'm looking forward to my first Snowed In Day!