Kudo's to Mrs. Manley and her 9th Grade ELA students! You see, the 9 different school districts that send students to the ATA don't share the same school calendar. Some of our schools began Thanksgiving vacation last Friday while others won't begin until Tuesday.
How then do you keep the learning momentum of the class when half the class is on vacation? Homework? Free day? How about opening a Moodle chat room and allowing students in school and on vacation to participate in a synchronous collaborative lesson? Check! Ok, so there was an optional homework assignment for those who could not or chose not to participate, but roughly 11 students did participate in the chat.
In one case, the mother of a student called the ATA just prior to the scheduled chat and explained that their internet was down. After some discussion of options the student decided to walk to a friends house to get online and participate. This is big - these students came to class (virtually) on Vacation!
BTW. Students in Mrs. Manley's class regularly use Moodle chats in class to facilitate "silent" class discussions after completing assigned work. And the rules of the chat are always reiterated. Moodle chat rooms are only accessible to enrolled students with the option of being "turned off" when the teacher is unable to moderate. A log of the chat, along with each student entry and a tally of total entries is also available. This makes assessing participation possible and accountability easier to enforce.