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Managing Bad Weather Days: 4 Ways Educators Can Use Study Island to Keep Students from Falling Behind

Managing Bad Weather Days: 4 Ways Educators Can Use Study Island to Keep Students from Falling Behind

I have to admit, as a teacher, I loved snow days. I can remember so clearly the feeling of anticipation when there was a chance of ice or snow in the forecast, the excitement of waking up to see the ground covered in white, and the joy of watching my district's name scroll across the screen in the list of school closings during the morning newscast. I live in Dallas, so snow isn’t something I see every day (or even every year), and getting to stay in my pajamas all day long on a random Wednesday in February was truly cause for celebration. I'm guessing many other teachers feel similarly about getting an unexpected break in the form of a single bad weather day. However, that time away from the classroom—especially when one day off becomes two, or three, or more—can easily add up to lost learning for students.

If you are using Study Island in your classroom, your students have access to a program that they can use anytime, from anywhere with an internet connection. Here are four ways that you can use Study Island to keep your students practicing and learning even when school is out for inclement weather.

1. Stick to your schedule

If your students have assigned topics that they are currently working on in Study Island, then the easiest way to keep them working when they are out of the classroom is to have them to simply continue working on those same assignments from home. Most likely, you will know ahead of time when there is a chance of inclement weather; take this opportunity to set expectations for students--let them know that if school does close, they will be expected to work in Study Island for a specific amount of time each day, or to earn a specific number of Blue Ribbons. Just be sure that students know their logins and how to access the site from any device. 

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2. Turn at-home learning into a contest or challenge

Students may not be super enthusiastic about the idea of doing school work on a day off, so one way to engage them is to turn it into a contest. Stick with a simple "most Blue Ribbons wins" contest, or you can give students a Blue Ribbon or time-based challenge, and then reward all students who achieve the goal.

3. Hold a writing workshop

Writing is one of those skills that students cannot practice enough---it's a great way for students to not only exercise their language arts muscles, but their critical thinking skills and creativity too. With Study Island’s writing assignments feature, you can assign students a writing prompt to work on during their day off. Use one of the expository or narrative prompts included in the program, or create your own. Students can type their essays or stories directly into the program, and you can review and send feedback as soon as they have submitted their assignment. Whether you assign a creative writing exercise or an essay topic, getting your students to practice their writing on a day that they don't have to come to school is definitely a win.

4. Go live

If you want to engage your students in a synchronous way while they are away from school due to inclement weather, consider hosting a Group Session. Study Island’s Group Sessions feature allows you to host a live class response session with students using their own devices as their clickers. The flexibility of Group Sessions allows students to participate in a live session together even when they are not in the same physical location. To host a virtual Group Session with your class, start by scheduling a specific start time for the session so that all students know when to log in. I recommend using Google hangouts or another similar feature to host a conference call for your students to dial into as well—that way you can have a live discussion with your students as you work through the questions. Hosting a virtual Group Session on an inclement weather day takes a bit of preparation, but engaging with you and their classmates in a live virtual setting will boost students’ 21st century skills and offer them a chance to participate in meaningful, engaging, and directed practice.

Want to learn more about how to use the Study Island features mentioned in this post? Register for our upcoming live webinar on Last Minute Test Prep with Study Island, and if you’re already a customer, check out the Help Center inside the program for lots of helpful tips, tricks, and tutorials. Not a customer yet? Try Study Island for free!