Schools use non-traditional instruction day
Students weren’t in class last Wednesday, Thursday or Friday because of snowy weather. But they’ll only have to make up two of those days after schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins implemented a non-traditional instruction (NTI) day on Thursday. “Given the fact that we had another storm brewing for tomorrow,” said Hawkins on Thursday morning, “it kind of made sense to try one out...” Schoolwork packets were sent home with elementary and middle school students prior to last week’s implementation of an NTI day. Those packets contained skill-based review materials for students to complete. Because of the One-to-One iPad computer tablet initiative at Woodford County High School, those students could access assignments and review materials online, Hawkins said. Hawkins said he has a previously scheduled meeting with principals this week, which will give them an opportunity to discuss the district’s first-ever NTI day. Students returned to school on Monday. But if they had not, probably would have used another NTI day. “I’m going to try to stay away from doing (NTI days on) consecutive days as much as I can,” he said. Woodford County schools and 43 other public school districts received state approval to use up to 10 NTI days this school year. “Based on how it’s worked in other districts, I do anticipate it being a positive thing here,” said Hawkins. By using NTI days, the district hopes to “limit the number of (makeup) days that we have to add to the end of the school year,” Hawkins said. He did not envision using more than five NTI days this school year during an interview in November. One-to-One expansion? Hawkins gave board members an update on a possible expansion of the One-to-One initiative during a work session last week. The expansion opportunity arose when the district began exploring alternatives to the iPad computer tablet now being used by WCHS students, he said. Chromebooks are currently being used (as a pilot program) in a limited number of middle school classrooms and by a few high school students to determine if those laptop devices are a better option moving forward, according to Hawkins. “There’s always pros and cons no matter what device you’re going to be looking at, but overwhelming the feedback from teachers and students has been much more positive as opposed to negative about the Chromebooks,” said Hawkins. “In particular, it’s basically like a mini-laptop. So it’s got that keyboard built in that you don’t have with the iPad.” Also, Hawkins said Chromebooks are more compatible with Google platforms like Google Classroom, which are not available on the iPad. And the district can purchase two Chromebooks for the price of one iPad, he added. “What that would allow us to do ... if we stay within our current budget, is that we can expand and include a couple of grades at the middle school,” said Hawkins. He said conversations will continue before any decisions or recommendations are made to the Woodford County Board of Education, probably in April or May. “We would like to be able to do something for next school year,” said Hawkins. He does not foresee ever implementing a One-to-One initiative in the elementary schools, where students in most classrooms already have access to five devices. “Having them available in the classroom for some activities that’s probably as far as we would go,” said Hawkins.