Students playing around on their phones during snow days may actually be learning, my colleague April Bethea says. While she was monitoring social media and keeping our online report fresh, she got intrigued by #CMSsnowED tweets and filed this report:
For four hours each snow day, students have answered questions on subjects like chemistry, math and literature or shown off their haiku writing abilities through a Twitter Q&A the district has tagged #CMSsnowED.
At the top of the hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- Note: today's will start at 11 a.m. -- , the district tweets a new question from its @CharMeckSchools account. The first person who tweets back the correct response gets a shout out from the district and a promise of CMS swag (a water bottle, umbrella or other district memorabilia).
"It's just a way to keep students engaged while schools are closed and to have fun with students online during the storm," said Tahira Stalberte, CMS' executive director for communications.
The virtual Q&A first launched in late January when CMS closed for two days because of snow. Stalberte said the idea came from the district's social media team, which uses Twitter and other tools to try to connect more with students or promote CMS initiatives.
The #CMSsnowED questions come from a variety of sources, including from district teachers, SAT study guides and other online resources, said Stalberte.
One of the first questions asked students to calculate the square root of the combined jersey numbers for a group of Carolina Panthers' players. And this week, students were asked, among other things, the following question about the novel Moby Dick:
LITERATURE: "Call me Ishmael" then call me a cab! Know the name of the boat I was on when it was destroyed by that albino whale, landlubber?
CMS is not the only district to communicate with students engaged during the snow break. Many districts used social media to help communicate news about school closings. Some, like Durham Public Schools and and Iredell-Statesville Schools, asked students to share photos of what they were doing during the snow day -- DPS called them "snowfies" -- and retweeted some of the replies.
Stalberte said the district has received a lot of positive feedback from students and parents about #CMSsnowED. She said the district plans to do the Q&A each day students are out of class because of the
"We have to meet students where they are," Stalberte said, "and they are on social media."