It’s the wee hours of the morning. The sun hasn’t even gotten its wake up call. Then the phone rings. The glorious salvation of a snow day.
If you’re a student.
Let’s face it. The victory of a snow day is celebrated by the students, but dreaded by teachers because they know it means they’re about to fall behind in their lesson plans.
Gone are the nights when we tracked the weather to see if it was possible that the night’s snowfall would be celebratory. Instead, we dread a longer, harsh morning commute, chiselling ice off windshields, and how to adjust lesson plans if school is cancelled.
Here are some ways to prepare for the occasional snow day and keep your students on task and on schedule:
THE CONTINGENCY HOMEWORK
For most, snow days don’t come out of nowhere. The kind of storms that cause school cancellations are often reported a day or so in advance. Many times, the warnings from the weathermen don’t materialize, but it doesn’t mean you can’t set a contingency homework plan with your students. If there is potential for a snow day, assign students work that maintains and continues the lessons you are currently working on that is only due if there is a snow day. That way students know if they aren’t coming to school, they have an automatic assignment.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA SOLUTION
Technology in the classroom has become more important to keep students engaged digitally. It also means students can still be reached on their electronic devices. If there is a snow day, post an assignment that’s due when students return on your classroom Twitter/instagram/Snapchat/Facebook page. Or, post discussion questions that students can engage in from home. At the very least, students will be able to respond and stay focused on the work they would have been doing if they were in school.
SNOW DAY REFLECTIONS
When you’re unable to reach your students via social media with a new assignment, or you’re in a unit where it’s not quite simple to create a contingency homework, have students come in with a completed writing assignment about their snow day. It can be a journal entry about what they did, what they learned, or even a creative writing assignment about a snow day. Show them that every day, even when they are not in school, is a learning opportunity and a way to continue to develop their skills.
CASTLE LEARNING ASSIGNMENTS
With Castle Learning, even from home, teachers can create assessments and assignments that can act as review and be accessible to students. Snow day? No problem. Create an assignment, post it, and see how students can spend part of their day engaged in the material you’ve been teaching.
While there will always have to be some adjusting to your unit plans when a day of school is cancelled, it doesn’t mean everything has to come completely off the tracks. If you are prepared, you can even have some child-like joy when you get the call that you’re not going to work, because today is officially a snow day!