DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

February 27, 2014

Derry, Londonderry schools rate blizzard bagsss

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — Staying home on a snow day is showing positive results in area high school classrooms.

Londonderry High School and Pinkerton Academy have piloted blizzard bag programs and school officials are giving their thoughts on how the program is working and how students are taking to the snow day work schedule.

Instead of missing school off due to snow, students at Pinkerton are currently using blizzard bags to keep up with their work.

A day’s work is counted as a day’s worth of assignments. Most of the work is done online, but hard copies are also distributed.

Students must participate at an 80 percent level to make the day’s work count as a regular school day.

So far, the results are good in Derry.

Pinkerton has had several blizzard bag days so far this year.

“We are getting positive results,” said Beverly Lannan, Pinkerton’s dean of faculty.

Results show things the school will look at when moving forward, Lannan said, including the length of the home lessons and how much time it takes a student to do the work.

“Some of the lessons were too long,” she said.

A single period class for a blizzard bag lesson should be 20 to 30 minutes in length, and 40 to 60 minutes for a double period lesson. Lannan said some were much longer.

She said faculty members were instructed to give rigorous lessons in the blizzard bag, but not to overdo it when it came to the time needed for completion.

Londonderry High School piloted the blizzard bag program in 2011 and school officials are thinking about a possible return to the program.

Parents in that town also said lessons were often too long, but many said positive things as well.

“There was a lot of support,” School Board Chairman Nancy Hendricks said. “We should revisit the discussion about blizzard bags.”

Londonderry superintendent Nate Greenberg said many school districts are seeing blizzard bag success. He said Londonderry could learn from what others are putting into place.

Some districts, including Hampstead, have blizzard bag programs in the younger grades, too.

Londonderry could consider the program for all grades as well.

“I would be interested in seeing exactly what they are doing and how they are doing it,” Greenberg said. “I would like to have the good, the bad and the ugly.”

For Pinkerton, it’s a learning process, Lannan said. Parents and students are surveyed to give their input as the program continues.

“We’re still reviewing,” Lannan said. “The kids are participating and they are doing their assignments. That’s all we can ask for.”