Internal - Faculty & Staff

How to Hold Class on a Snow Day

Weather and other emergencies that cancel class can really throw off your plan for the whole semester and the pedagogical flow you created in the syllabus. Luckily, Simmons has many tools that allow us to hold class virtually when the class can’t meet face-to-face. Below are three scenarios that demonstrate how you can transform your in class lesson into an online equivalent. Using one of these online approaches, students will learn the content and you won’t have to reorganize the rest of the semester to catch up on missed classes.

Examples of Snow Day Class Sessions

The three scenarios below will show you how to design an online class session with relatively short notice, using the tools provided in the Simmons eLearning toolbox. Being prepared ahead of time to use these tools will make the process much easier when you’re faced with a canceled class session. Click the scenarios below to learn more about how to deliver your class online.

Scenario 1: Readings Discussion & Video

This scenario shows how quickly and effectively you can put together learning content online using a discussion forum and open educational video resources. In this example, the instructor puts together thoughtful discussion questions and uses the Beatley Library Kanopy Video Library to find an online video that is pertinent to the week’s content.

Breakdown of Activities

  1. Instructor posts discussion questions based on the readings for the week in Moodle Advanced Forum tool.
  2. Instructor finds relevant videos, from Kanopy video libraryTED talks, or other open educational resources.
  3. Instructor provides feedback/direction to guide the online discussion.
  4. Students write a short reflection on the discussion, readings, or videos, and upload it to Moodle. This can be ungraded, or count toward a participation grade.

How to Use These Tools

Downloadable Tips for Students

   Discussion Board Etiquette

Scenario 2: A Virtual (Synchronous) Class Session

In this scenario, the instructor and students meet in real time in a virtual classroom followed by an interactive activity using a Moodle wiki. Using GoToMeeting, instructors and students can see each other, hear each other, and present materials. GoToMeeting also offers additional features like polling and chat, which can keep your live session very interactive. Following the virtual session, students are then asked to participate in an interactive activity, using the wiki function in Moodle to create a collective review featuring this weeks content.

Breakdown of Activities

  1. Instructor hosts GoToMeeting live session (below are examples of what this session can do):
    • Have question/answer session with students
    • Give a lecture
    • Host a guest lecturer
    • Students give presentations
  2. Instructor creates interactive activity using a Moodle Wiki.
  3. Students collaborate in the wiki. 
  4. Activities could be graded or can contribute to a participation grade.

How to Use These Tools

Downloadable Tips for Students
Below are resources that can be downloaded and provided to your students to ensure higher success with this activity.

  Participant Quick Start Guide: GoToMeeting

  Live Session Protocol

Scenario 3: Recorded Lectures & Article Discovery

In this scenario, the instructor records a series of mini-lectures on the week’s content, using the Tegrity lecture capture tool. This is followed up by an Article Discovery activity utilizing a Moodle Advanced Discussion Forum. The instructor can also re-use recorded lectures in the future to create “flipped classroom” lessons on the ground.

Breakdown of Activities:

  1. Instructor records lectures using Tegrity, and posts them to Moodle course site.
  2. Students use databases provided by the Simmons Library to find articles about the given topic.
  3. Using a discussion forum, each student posts their article and along with a short summary of its contents.
  4. Discussion follows highlighting the significance of that article in the context of the class work. Students should be required to respond to their peers.
  5. Instructor provides feedback/direction to guide the online discussion.

How to Use These Tools:

  • How to Record a Lecture with Tegrity: For instructions on recording and embedding a lecture, refer to this Tegrity tutorial.
  • How to Add Discussion Forum: For instructions on adding a discussion forum on Moodle, refer to the Simmons Technology Moodle tutorial.

Downloadable Tips for Students

Below are resources that can be downloaded and provided to your students to ensure higher success with this activity.

  Discussion Board Etiquette

Planning Ahead

Preparing ahead for the eventuality of a snow day is the best way to make sure you’ll be able to hold class effectively. Students should also be made aware of this possibility and be given a chance to prepare. Here is some information on what to do at the beginning of the semester, before the snow falls.

Notify Students Ahead of Time
  • Post information on syllabus and the course Moodle course site (see samples, below).
  • Discuss the possibility of an online class format in your initial communications with students.
  • Collect student contact information, and provide them with yours.
  • Establish the plan for snow day communication.
    • Spell out your expectations. Examples: “check your email by normal class meeting time,” “we will stay on schedule with readings,” “exams will be held on line (or postponed to next in person meeting).”
  • Post important documents, slides, and links on Moodle course site.
  • Email this information to students in the event that day one of class is canceled due to snow.

    Sample Statements for Syllabus or Email:
    If, due to weather or other unforeseen events, the campus is closed and/or face to face class cannot be held, please check your e-mail for instructions on how class will be held. (Suggestion: Charge your phone when you hear of pending storms.) We may move the class on-line, or I will provide activities for you to complete. You are expected to keep up with the reading and assignments according to schedule. You may e-mail me your questions and papers by scheduled class time to get consideration for credit on the assignment. If you lose power or internet access, please check as soon as you are able.

    “In the event of an unforeseen adverse event, such as a major hurricane, and classes could not be held on the campus (of Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi); this course would continue through the use of Blackboard and/or email. In addition, the syllabus and class activities may be modified to allow continuation of the course. Ideally, University facilities (i.e., emails, web sites, and Blackboard) will be operational within two days of the closing of the physical campus. However, students need to make certain that the course instructor has a primary and a secondary means of contacting each student.”- Statement of Academic Continuity, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (per G. Blalock, sent via electronic communication, October 31, 2015)

Plan Your Online Lessons: For ideas and questions to guide your choice of online materials and activities, view Resources for Learning Continuity, which is modified from a document created by Suffolk University.