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Snow day solutions: How instructors may make up for lost school time

'Tis the season for many schools to experience changes in their daily schedule due to weather patterns. Delayed openings, early closings, and all-day closings interrupt lesson plans and school activities that are essential to the academic, social, and emotional development of students. But weather doesn't have to be the reason teachers don't finish a lesson unit, or abridge other learning opportunities.

Read below for innovative strategies that will help make up for lost school time, while keeping students and instructors engaged.

Take advantage of technology. The Internet is an invaluable resource with respect to how it can be used to keep people updated, informed, and to help people make up for lost time. Teachers may create message boards, free blogs, or simply choose to keep students on task through e-mail.

Use Discussion Boards. Most colleges and universities have some mechanism for facilitating communication between professors and their students. CourseWorks and Blackboard are two of the most popular means. Both CourseWorks and Blackboard allow students and teachers to post content to a discussion board. Instructors must tailor their course’s CourseWorks and Blackboard webpage to include a discussion board.

Instructors may follow up about lessons that had to be abridged through use of an online discussion forum. Students may be required to post thoughtful answers to questions posted on the discussion board. A series of questions could be posted with the requirement that students answer, for instance, three out of the 5 questions posted.

Each question should be the topic of a different discussion thread. Hopefully, students and instructors are already using tools like CourseWorks and Blackboard. One of the advantages to using discussion boards is that they guarantee a certain amount of anonymity. That student that never has anything to say in class may post a brilliant reflection to a discussion board.

Post assignments to Facebook and Twitter. What middle or high school student would not want an excuse to use social media? Why not post make-up assignments to Facebook or Twitter? Students will enjoy seeing their response to a review question projected onto the black or white board in front of the classroom, or on a SMART Board.

There are many other tools that facilitate communication between students, teachers, and parents. Online grade books provide an innovative way to keep everyone informed and up to date. Examples include TeacherEase, Mygradebook, Engrade, and JupiterGrades. These tools allow teachers, students, administrators and parents to manage assignments.

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