Knox receives approval for NTI; teachers use days in non-traditional ways

Winter weather didn’t stop Knox County students from learning on ten days that would have normally kept them at home without lessons designed by their teachers.

Interim Commissioner Lewis with the Kentucky Department of Education granted Knox County all ten non-traditional days that were used this school year.   The Board can now move forward with amending the school year calendar and setting the official last date for students and teachers during their upcoming meeting on Thursday, April 26.  If approved, that day will be Tuesday, May 29 for students and Wednesday, May 30 for teachers and staff.

Unique this year was the use of social media to inspire students to utilize online resources and books that they had at home during the snow days.  Ronda Gambrel, teacher at Dewitt Elementary, posed a challenge to her students.  “Are you interested in winning a free book? Enter the Dewitt Snow Days Reading Challenge! Here’s how to enter – share a photo of you enjoying some snow day reading. It’s that simple! And definitely make sure we can see what book you’re reading. You can add your photo in the comments below. All participants will win a FREE book. Please post your photos by Sunday, January 21st to be eligible to win!”

The result, many students receiving free books thanks to the Project Link literacy grant between the Knox County Public Schools and Kentucky Educational Development Corp.

The success of the snow day challenge motivated Gambrel and Dewitt students to participate in a flood day challenge.  “️Lets FLOOD this post with pics of you and your book collection! Every post wins a prize and one lucky winner gets a big prize. Lets show the world that childhood literacy has a place in your home. Post a pic of your child with his/her favorite books. Nothing fancy, none of us have a million dollar library in our homes! It can be a shelf, a shoe box, a laundry basket, or just a stack of their favorite  books. Post your pic and tag 3 friends to challenge them to participate!”

“We seen many unique ways of motivating students to continue learning, even if it wasn’t a non-traditional day”, said Frank Shelton, coordinator for non-traditional learning for Knox County Public Schools.

As for next year, the district is awaiting approval from the Kentucky Department of Education on whether participation will be permitted.

“There was earlier discussion during the legislative lesson about the need for better monitoring and more rigorous instruction across the state on NTI days,” said Shelton.  “At the end of the session, law makers agreed that NTI was a positive initiative that just needs some adjusting to make sure it is being implemented fairly across the state.  We will work with KDE to make sure that Knox County’s plan is top notch for 2018-2019.”