Snow Day Headaches…And What to Do About Them

Snow Day Headaches

A good chunk of the United States has been at the mercy of some not-so-kind weather gods for the last month or so.  Between the polar vortex, several ice storms, and a blizzard or two, the district that I live in has cancelled classes on over ten days since mid-January.  They are out again today as a matter of fact.  And while no one that I know complains about the day off at five am when they get to burrow back under the covers and sleep for an extra couple of hours and students’ safety is obviously paramount, the multiple days off really throw a wrench in a teacher’s curriculum.

So today let’s talk about some ideas of what to do when you are suddenly short multiple days of instructional time.

Idea One:  Consider What Might Be Cut

Think about your upcoming novel unit or the long research essay your students write every spring.  They are without a doubt valuable parts of the curriculum that teach important skills and lessons, but it may be necessary to look at alternatives.  What are the important things you want your students to get out of these units?  How could you cover these parts in a different manner?  Are there a couple of short stories with which you could replace the novel and still cover at least most of the same skills and ideas?  Can you cut part of the research project?  What if you teach the skills but only write a portion of the final paper, or what if the paper becomes a three-page paper instead of a ten-page one, or what if you provide the research that all students will use instead of spending several days having your students find it themselves.  Cutting isn’t ideal and you will most likely go back to your original methods next year, but you need to figure out what you can do this year to still cover what you need to in the time you have.

Idea Two:  Consider Partnering with Other Teachers

Maybe you have always covered the Jim Crowe South in depth in your literature class at the beginning of your To Kill a Mockingbird novel study.  Maybe you really do need to cover research paper writing in an unabbreviated form.  Maybe public speaking has always been a skill covered in English class, but you just don’t know how you will fit it in this year.  This many snow days–something’s gotta give!  Talk to your fellow teachers–they are in the same boat you are.  Maybe you can align when you teach To Kill a Mockingbird with the appropriate units in your students’ history class.  Maybe the science teacher wants to coordinate with you; research papers can be done on a science topic that she needs to cover and class time from both the English and science classes can be used for research paper writing as well as learning about the science.  Maybe public speaking becomes a part of several classes instead of just yours.  If everyone is changing up their curriculum, someone may be able to help you out.  And remember, this goes both ways.  If you are willing to help others out by combining forces, others are much more likely to help you.  You are all in this together!

Idea Three:  Consider Reworking Your Expectations

You have been trying to complete your current unit for three weeks.  School has been canceled so many times and you have missed so much class that the students seem to have forgotten more than they remember.  They should have taken the test a week ago, but instead you are facing the need to reteach more than half the unit when you are already short on class time.  What do you do?  It may be time to rework your expectations.  Maybe you give an open-book test.  Maybe you design a project to replace the review and test where students demonstrate the necessary skills but can refer to their books, each other, or you when they hit a part they struggle with.  Maybe you offer a couple of before school, after school, or lunch time study sessions.  The particulars will depend on your situation and your students.  Don’t feel guilty though.  Life happens and while many things are things you can control, the weather is not one of them.

Whatever you decide, remember that when circumstances change, sometimes we must as well.  And this is as important of a lesson to teach your students as the material in your curriculum.

Have some other ideas to help teachers struggling with shortened instructional time?  Share them in the comments section below!

Have a great day, and…

Teach On!


Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific -


This Week’s Featured Product

Looking at Love in Three Poems: Analyzing a Common Theme Mini Unit

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 3.24.20 PM

Want to practice intertextual criticism or thematic analysis?  This product uses “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, “Scaffolding” by Seamus Heaney, and “Sonnet 130” by William Shakespeare to look at how different poems and poets treat a common theme. Students will participate in poetry reading, discussion, several forms of writing, drawing, and debate as they move through this activity.  For more details or to download this product, click here!


This Week’s Journal Questions

For the teacher:  What is the first thing you do when you have to rework how you are going to teach something?

For the student:  What is your favorite thing to do on a snow day?


A Recipe from My Kitchen

Dinner on a Bread Slice

Sorry, no picture today.  I forgot to take one when I was cooking last night!  But think meatloaf on bread…


  • 1 small loaf of french bread, ciabatta, or other similar bread
  • a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil for cooking
  • 1 small-medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (or one stale bun or roll, shredded)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup catsup, barbecue sauce, or tomato sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F.
  2. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Slice the bread in half lengthwise so you have two long, flat pieces (as you would for a sub sandwich) and place these in the pan.
  4. Sauté your onions, carrots, and garlic with the olive oil until they are soft.
    • Hint:  If you find they are drying out during cooling, throw in a bit of water to help.
  5. Put everything (besides the french bread) in a large bowl and mix together.
    • Hint:  I find this works best if I use my hands and squish it all until it is well-combined.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly on the two pieces of bread.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes to crisp the top.  The internal temperature should top 160º F.  Mine usually is well above that.
  9. Take out of the oven, let rest for five minutes, and serve.

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