Please review the proposal below regarding alternative structured learning days (Blizzard Bags) and complete the survey that follows. We value your input. Thank you in advance for your time.
- Alternative structured learning day programs, or “Blizzard Bag Days,” refers to the practice of assigning students work that can be completed at home on days when school is not in session due to weather or other emergencies.
- The assignments completed over the course of the year on these days would replace the make-up days traditionally added to the School Calendar in the month of June.
- Westfield School students have missed an average of 5.5 days each school year for the last 9 years. Most of those cancellations were due to inclement weather conditions. There are typically five weather emergency days built into the school calendar, and each cancellation day adds another day in June. During the 2016-2017 school year, there were a total of 8 weather related cancellations. This caused the school year to be extended, and students were in school until June 28, 2017.
- Several states have adopted this program, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has endorsed this practice. Locally, The Gateway Regional School District adopted Blizzard Bags for the 2016-17 school year, and reported a successful implementation with that pilot.
- Provides the opportunity for the integration of project based learning, blended learning, and online education into our regular instruction.
- Continuous engagement of students in the content with which they are working.
- The Massachusetts Frameworks are more likely to be mastered prior to state standardized testing.
- For students in AP courses, coverage of material is more likely to occur before the mandated testing dates.
- Students will practice time management skills and experience self-directed academic pursuits that are becoming such an integral part of both the college and career experience.
- In this pilot proposal, WPS will begin the Blizzard Bag Days following the 5 cancellation days that are built into the school calendar. Beginning on the 6th cancellation day and continuing for each subsequent cancellation day, students would complete Blizzard Bag project assignments and would not be required to make up the days in June.
- On the 2017-2018 calendar, our last day of school will be June 14 if there are not weather-related cancellations. This would ensure that our last day of school for the 2017-2018 school year would be no later than June 21, 2018.
- Project-based assignments may be assigned by an individual teacher, grade level team, or department depending on a student’s schedule and learning plan. Assignments will be due in June 2018.
- Projects by grade level are encouraged for Grades PreK-5; projects by team are encouraged for grades 6-9, and projects by department or interdisciplinary projects are encouraged for grades 10-12.