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Making the Most of Bad Weather Days for Secondary Students

Making the Most of Bad Weather Days for Secondary Students

No matter if you reside in the cold and snowy North, the rain-prone South, or anywhere in between, from time to time, Mother Nature has its own ideas about educators and students getting to school. School closures due to bad weather can’t be helped, but they can quickly put students behind, especially middle and high school students working through rigorous and tightly scheduled curriculum. However, with a little planning and the help of technology, bad weather days don’t need to put learning on pause for secondary students.

Here are four multidisciplinary rules of thumb to ensure that learning continues on bad weather days.

Have a standing lesson prepared long before the weather arrives

Think of having an emergency plan but with less dire consequences. Early in the year, solicit some ideas from your students about educational activities they can complete in the event of a weather day. For example, do they enjoy watching documentaries or TED Talks? Is there an online practice program your school leverages that students can use at home? By asking students for ideas ahead of time, you are taking into account their access to technology and other resources, as well as generating buy-in. Then, even if you cannot contact them during a storm, they know what is expected of them.

Give assignments in chunks

Many teachers like to assign bundles of homework to be done over a certain time period, usually a week. If you live in an area with a high likelihood of inclement weather, consider adopting the approach. Then, if students are stuck at home for a day or two, they will still have the materials they need to keep their minds active and stay on track with the curriculum.

Preview classwork to keep students prepared

If you have some advance warning of inclement weather (for example, in the case of major storms like hurricanes), spend a few minutes while you’re still in the classroom with students outlining what you would like them to be thinking about and investigating while they are gone. Even the simple act of jotting down some pre-thoughts is a valuable use of time. Of course, if they do have access to the Internet, some deeper research tasks can be in order as well. All of this lays the foundation for students to hit the ground running when they are able to return to school.

Align tasks to the weather

Bad weather days are one of the rare times during the school year when students’ distracting thoughts can be used to benefit education. When school is closed due to weather, they will naturally be thinking about the event, and that makes a great theme for many lessons—not just in science. In ELA classes, ask students to think about where weather plays a role in the plots of stories? What historical events have caused or been affected by a weather event? And, with so many weather-related numbers floating around TV screens, math projects can be ubiquitous. What might have been a wasted day can be grounded in a theme related to what is occurring all around students.

Looking for online tools that can help you and your students overcome the challenge of bad weather days? Check out Edmentum Courseware and Study Island for robust, state-standards-aligned curriculum and practice across core and elective subjects that students can work through at their own pace, anytime and anywhere!

scott.sterling's picture

Scott Sterling is a former English teacher who worked in Title I middle and high schools in St. Petersburg, Florida who is now a freelance writer who focuses on education. He is also a stay-at-home dad to his 4-year-old daughter Lily, who will soon be starting her own educational journey.

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