Online Learning for Inclement Weather: 25 Ideas and a Free Webinar

Online Learning for Inclement Weather: 25 Ideas and a Free Webinar

It seems that cold snowy weather has become a topic in regards to schools and making up days. Technology provides some new solutions, although these solutions must be carefully thought through and well planned. While I do not claim to have the total answer, I do have 25 ideas and want to point you to a free webinar provided by OLN (Online Learning Network) at ISTE. First, t
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At a recent PBL Summit in Estes Park, Colorado I couldn’t help but remember last winter in Indiana as I looked at the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The winter of 2014 was one that included lots of snow in the Midwest, and with the snow… lots of school snow days. The district that I work with decided to take the challenge of using e-learning to make up some of those days. I worked with a team of amazing educators in the district to help plan and implement this initiative. Of course… several years of one to one computing did help, but we also learned a number of strategies and ideas that I hope might help your school or district if you plan to look at e-learning as a possible solution for school make-up. I know there is a lot more to consider, but reflection on these may provide a good start. Please let me know if there might be others that could be included. I am also still learning!

  1. Determine if school and district have the resources to use an e-learning experience in such a fashion.
  2. Check any guidelines provided by the state DOE.
  3. Gather input from all district stakeholders including educators, parents, and students beforehand.
  4. Collect student data regarding home internet connectivity.
  5. Determine community wifi access points.
  6. Investigate possible home connect programs for students who do not have access.
  7. Provide labs and access points at buildings in the district and communicate availability to students and parents.
  8. Investigate student special needs and include provisions in individualized learning plans.
  9. Allow extra time on work to accommodate students who may have difficulty connecting on the day off.
  10. Provide building facilities outside of school hours to provide for students that have difficulty connecting.
  11. Attempt to blend lessons as much as possible with learning that would have taken place if school was in session.
  12. Provide training and assistance to teachers regarding the use of the district LMS and blended learning.
  13. Encourage teachers to provide some low tech solutions such as using a video that can be accessed by cell phone.
  14. Emphasize that safety comes first and that no one should venture out to an access point if weather is a problem.
  15. Make a plan for the program, communicate both online and offline, and be sure that all stakeholders understand the way the program will work.
  16. Understand that student work load may be different online, and a forty minute class may only require half the work time.
  17. Ask that teachers be aware of not providing busy work, instead ensure that work is meaningful and relevant.
  18. Ask teachers to communicate with students after each school day off in order to get a temperature read for future planning
  19. Find examples and encourage teachers to plan lessons that help students understand how to learn in the digital world.
  20. Take advantage of opportunities to promote digital citizenship.
  21. Attempt to set up teacher office hours that provide multiple avenues of connection while also allowing for anonymity in contact information.
  22. Provide opportunities and understanding that allows real blended learning to become a daily practice, not just an item saved for school closings.
  23. Understand that the district may need to make different accommodations for students unable to participate in this type of program.
  24. Evaluate, revise, and reflect on the program on a consistent basis.
  25. Celebrate both large and small successes with constant communication and public relations.

Free Online Learning For Inclement Weather

In conclusion, I also invite you to a very special webinar presented by the Online Learning Network at ISTE. You will learn from some amazing individuals representing school districts across the country. Join the discussion! In this webinar, three districts will share how they implemented online learning options to make up snow days. It is a must attend presentation and you will find more information and how you can register below.

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Michael Gorman oversees one-to-one laptop programs and digital professional development for Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a consultant for Discovery Education, ISTE, My Big Campus, and November Learning and is on the National Faculty for The Buck Institute for Education. His awards include district Teacher of the Year, Indiana STEM Educator of the Year and Microsoft’s 365 Global Education Hero. Read more at