First, let me describe the trials and travails of snow day drama....
It begins with a weather report. You hear about it from a friend, or a blurb on the radio, or maybe "Winter Storm Watch" pops up on your phone as you're walking out the building one Tuesday afternoon. If it's just 2 or 3 inches of snow then you know they won't cancel (unless you live somewhere like Tennessee or Georgia where an inch of snow paralyzes the community). But if it's around 6 inches in the forecast then you've got a good chance. Timing also matters a lot: a snowstorm that starts around 1 or 2 pm will not cancel school if it's over by midnight.
So we live through 1 or 2 days of confusion and rumors-- "I heard we might get 12 inches!" "Channel 7 said that it might go out to sea and we'll get almost nothing" "We might be on the rain-snow line for this storm..." -- and the uncertainty impacts your lesson planning. You do the best you can in the couple of days before The Storm, but these questions plague you:
- Should I change that assignment due date?
- Maybe we shouldn't do that activity today, in case we can't debrief it tomorrow.
- Would this classwork be okay as a homework item instead?
- Do I have enough ibuprofen at home to survive all that shoveling??
The phone call comes from the superintendent's office. Some simply announce the cancellation (or occasionally a 2-hour delayed start) and others explain their reasoning. When the storm is huge (10+ inches on the way), we get the call as early as 4PM; usually they wait until the 5-6 AM hour on the morning of.
The main purpose of flipped learning is to activate and invigorate the shared learning space: class time. When you lose that time, then you lose (or postpone) that learning. The video lessons do not replace me and they cannot replicate the classroom experiences where deeper learning takes place. If I am clever enough and the stars align, then I can schedule a video homework assignment during the snow day ... but I cannot fully assess and apply their understanding until we're all back at school.
For example, my students are currently working on improving a specific discussion skill during our "Creating the Constitution" unit. A few days ago they learned* from a 9-minute homemade video about the purpose, issues, conditions of the Philadelphia Convention. I prepared 2 primary-source readings that I would scaffold and support with students last week, and they would be the basis for deep class discussion about the Executive Branch and the Federalists vs Anti-Federalists ratification debate -- plus connections with current events. You cannot replicate that practice in the online world. (Discussion boards are a completely different animal than face-to-face conversation, so don't even try....)
In past winters, other snow days have impacted a project-based learning activity, a classroom simulation, or another shared learning space experience that cannot be 'flipped' into homework. I blogged about my struggles in the epic winter of 2015 in real time.
The inescapable lesson is that flipped learning does not replace the teacher, and video lessons will never replace the teacher. As a corollary, we see that flipping adds value to class time and adds anxiety to the teacher who loses this time.
* Claim supported by quiz results below. In addition to the 39 "A" grades, 27 students scored a "B", which reflects proficient understanding (accurate but light on some factual recall). Seven students haven't taken it yet because of illness/absence, and another seven students scored a 60 or lower, which means they need teacher intervention...another casualty of the snow days.