by Mark Heintz

Last night, after much anticipation, we finally got the call…  School was canceled: SNOW DAY! Thirteen years of teaching and many more of being a student, I STILL get excited by a snow day. I have great memories of putting my snow gear on and heading out for an epic day of building forts, snowball fights, and sledding.  Growing up, I would wake up, turn the radio on, and listen eagerly for the school closing announcements.  These days, there are much quicker means of sharing the news of a school cancellation.  And, that sharing of information works both ways.  Teachers can post updates and answer questions easier than they ever have been before.  Because of that, days off are no longer quite so free.

Earlier today, I sent out a request to my current and recently former students to tell me what they are doing with their “day off.”

Some students read and annotated.  Let me rephrase that.  They actually got to read for a lengthy period of uninterrupted time. They could process and enjoy the assigned reading because they actually had the time to do so.

Other students got to work on projects they were interested in.  One student used the research for Debate Club. She’s researching nine bills and this is what she had to say, “There’s the background showing what the bill is about, there are pros of why we should affirm this mock piece of legislation. I am currently working on is why we should negate this mock piece of legislation. There are 8 contentions on each of the argument, following the format in one of the screenshots.


Another student spent his day reading a book written by a man imprisoned in 10 concentration camps while also improving his Polish!

Others used it to get ahead on physics and collaborate with others when they needed help.

Others, like myself, used the day to shovel themselves, their family, and neighbors out the snow.  Some students were needed to watch over younger siblings while their guardians went to work.

And, probably best of all, kids used their time to play.  Research and evidence continues to show that even high school age students greatly benefit from unstructured, freeform play.  It’s awesome to see them not only taking advantage of the day to finish work and passion projects but also, to see them just plain being kids.


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