- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

D.C. school officials developed a system using the Internet and television to bring lessons into the homes of students, who could not get to classes because of the snowstorm during the Presidents Day weekend.
The Winter Storm Home Study Guide was designed by Paul Ruiz, the District's chief academic officer, along with other educators to stimulate students while schools were closed.
"Dr. Paul Ruiz knew the importance of providing students with academic stimuli, and he wanted to give children an opportunity to engage in creative activities while they're at home," said Wilma F. Bonner, executive director of academic programs.
Although D.C. students will return to classes today, officials said, the guide will remain on the Internet and will be updated periodically.
Schools in the District, Falls Church and Stafford County public schools will open two hours late today. Schools in Prince George's County canceled classes for the week on Wednesday. Public schools in Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties in Maryland and Loudoun and Arlington counties and Alexandria in Virginia also will remain closed today.
Mrs. Bonner, who holds a doctorate in education, said officials decided to put the guide on the Internet yesterday morning when classes were canceled for the third day. She said Mr. Ruiz felt compelled to get support to parents and students.
"Learning never stops. … The Office of Academic Services will build a bank with activities that are designed to content standards for particular levels that parents and students can draw upon when we have emergencies such as this," she said.
The guide provides age-appropriate sample lessons in math, science, reading and the arts for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Many of the activities are project-based, which is an excellent strategy for engaging students, she said.
An activity for pre-kindergarten through first grade called "Found Object Rubbings" entails locating objects around the home a paper clip, a piece of rope, a crayon and a piece of white paper. Students then place the object on the paper and, using a crayon, re-create the shape and texture on the paper.
Web resources also were used in compiling the guide. Students were asked to make math calculations based on their levels, and some science questions required outdoor observations.
"Students might have go outside and measure the snow and make an educated guess regarding depth of snow in one area and the difference in depth in another area," the executive director said.
Area schools have been closed since Tuesday after 16.1 inches of snow blanketed the region shutting down businesses and governments.
Spokesmen for Montgomery and Prince George's County schools said their systems have no such study guides.


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