24 States Will Experience Brutal Cold

Greetings and Happy 2015 to all,

It is the beginning of January and as the cold weather sets in much of the United States, I have a question to shape our discussion.  In my state, it seems that we have experienced a large number of weather related closings.  Some counties in Kentucky canceled school last year for more than a month, which created a nightmare to make up those missed days.  It is feared with our weather predictions for 2015 that once again we might be faced with this same dilemma.

I want to know how other states have faced this challenge with their adult students.  Are home computers and Internet access the solution to this problem?  Do your students lose interest if classes are interrupted and then disappear?  How do you keep the momentum going?

Meryl Becker-Prezocki, SME


Down here in Florida, hurricanes close schools. However, while working the Florida Keys, colder weather would shut it down as well. Even if the schools are open, it seems that attendance is down during periods of bad weather. In our area, internet is not a problem. As a director, I made it my mission to make sure that each of our ESL students had a workbook to take home. That has helped.


These past days earthquakes in Texas and frigid temperatures along with snow has been the subject of much of our weather news.  I was talking to some program directors today, and they said that the extreme cold was the reason many students did not show for class.  Jeff stated that the workbook has worked in Florida for him.  I would like to know what the students think about it, Jeff?  Do you provide something for them to take home even when Florida is not feeling the chill?

Does anyone use Internet lessons for bad weather days?

Meryl, SME



Hi, Meryl -

We experienced this same issue last winter here in Northern VA.  One thing that I found which worked well with my ELLs was journaling during those school closing days.  When the closing was predictable, we talked about journal topics at the end of class, anticipating the missed days.  When it wasn't predictable, or the closing went on long than anticipated, I used student contact info (e-mail, phone or text) to send prompts to students. 

I think the real key to the success with this approach was using their journaling as the basis for our first lesson back, rather than writing it off as a filler for the missed classes.  These lessons varied depending on the journal topic and any other directions I gave them to follow in their writing.  For example, one journal topic asked students to write about what they ate on their day/evening off from class.  I also asked them to tell about one 'comfort food' from their native country. Additional directions were to use 2-3 adjectives to describe this food, and 1-2 adverbs to describe how they prepared and consumed this food.  The lesson when we came back to class was a short review of adjectives and adverbs, a peer review of their usage in a classmate's journal, and a re-write of the journal entry into a one paragraph piece to be shared with others in our school's cookbook at the end of the year.  Students who didn't write on the prompts the first time we missed class, quickly got on board when we were subsequently closed for other bad weather days.   

Hope this helps, and stay warm!


Hello to all,

The huge snow storm in the eastern United States was the big news this week.  It made me think about the discussion topic about the weather that I posted at the beginning of January.  I thought it was very timely to revisit the question: How do keep the momentum going in a class when you have to shut down due to weather conditions?  What do you ask your students to do at home when they cannot make it to class?

I want to share the Kentucky Adult Education suggestions from the January 2015 Kentucky News to Use  http://www.kyae.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/8241355A-A5D9-4383-A225-47F3A5491EF6/0/Jan15NTU.pdf

Do you have a snow day plan? This can help!

     The weather outside is frightful … and that can cause school closings and students’ inability to attend class. In order to keep inclement weather from negatively impacting your students’ progress, please consider using this checklist to help you guide your students. 

     Do your students text? You can stay in contact with them via text without sharing your own phone number by using the free service provided at https://www.remind.com/. Using this service will allow you to send out messages via Internet that will go out to students via their text service. They must enter their information at this site to “opt in” to receiving your messages. This could provide an additional venue for sharing information about inclement weather or to communicate about snow day assignments.

Identify which students have devices or access to them.

Identify which tools you will use, e.g. Edmodo, Google, etc.

Determine how students will gain access and learn how to use them.

Identify if you can communicate with students via email to alert them that they can access the tools.

Identify self-directed online tools that they can use to practice or reinforce learning, e.g,,

  • Khan Academy
  • GED® https://ged.com/
  • Fast Forward
  • Ed Ready: kyae.edready.org offers KYAE students a personalized mathematics study plan aligned to their chosen educational goal (GED, Compass or KYOTE). Each math module consists of a video presentation that introduces the concept, an explanation from Khan Academy, and opportunities for independent practice that lead to mastery of the module.
  • Wonderopolis: a great site for informational text. It would be an interesting way for families to connect on a snow day although it is not just a family site. Each day there is informational text, a video to capture attention, vocabulary and comprehension questions. There are suggestions for ways to extend learning. There is a text to speech feature so all levels can use this site--what a great thing for those low level students! 

Involve students in planning and communication by writing out a contingency plan.

In class, address the boundaries of professional netiquette.  Here are two sets that could be used:





Meryl, SME



Hello to all,

Early in January I posted a discussion regarding the weather and asked how programs handle the challenge of having to close down.  I wondered how instructors and directors keep the momentum going when classes are called off for days in a row. 

I thought about this last week when in according to the Weather Channel, 72 records for cold temperatures were set on Friday, February 20.  I could hardly imagine such a large number.  In Kentucky, most schools were closed this entire week.  The record breaking cold had covered much of the United States from Connecticut down to Florida.  Major cities were included in these statistics such as New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Detroit and Cincinnati. 

The newspaper headlines over the weekend were very descriptive.  Just a few titles that made me gasp were

                        SN_OH Boy! (Decatur Alabama)

                        Frigid night set record lows (Tampa Bay Times)

                        A Rough Winter (Bloomington, Indiana)

                        SNOW Place Like Home (Bowling Green, Kentucky)

                        Cold temps leave South Jersey pipes FROZEN (Atlantic City, NJ)

I have heard from many colleagues that they lose students when these conditions occur.  They say that once the routine is upset the students are lost.  I wonder how do you get the students to come back?  Do they come on their own or do you offer incentives?  Do you give them work to do when they are home so that they will continue to progress?  Is online work the answer?

What do you think?

Meryl, SME

I could only wish for this problem out in Utah this year.  We have had unseasonably WARM and sunny weather, creating havoc with our ski industry and causing concern about water shortages.  HOWEVER, in a normal year, we get a lot of snow.  I really hate calling a snow day,  because, as you say, it is hard to get students back once they have been given a taste of freedom.  :)  We have a calling tree and texting system.  Most of our students have cell phones.  We text them if there is a snow emergency declared; then we text them again to remind them when we are back in session.  

I'm in a tutoring lab so it doesn't directly affect me, but today two different teachers noted that this semester is horrible attendance-wise.   We haven't even had the execrable weather of the East Coast... but it's true, once people have tasted "freedom" it's just too easy to decide to not attend later on.

Hi Kate, Susan and others,

You stated it well when you said that adult learners decide not to continue once they have tasted "freedom."  I have found it very true with this population.  I like the system you use, Kate, of calling and texting.  If the student realizes that they are being missed, it might made a difference.  What about having other students in the class contacting them.  That may be a more powerful approach.  What do you think?

Meryl, SME


Hi everyone,

Here in Massachusetts, we anticipate closings due to weather and have a cancellation policy in effect which is explained to our students at intake. We take a multi-pronged approach to notifying them of cancellations which works most of the time. We do have a few students that choose not to take the initiative and then are surprised when they get to school and no one is there. Although we applaud their effort, I fear for their well being traveling (some on foot) during inclement weather. It can be a challenge to help them form habits of organization to think through the process of there being a potential cancellation and investigating before they leave the house.

As far as instruction/content and attendance, our program can only take credit for nights of actual physical attendance. We have a minimum number of hours we are required to run the program and a deadline for class completion by June 30th. In some years, this has meant adding additional evenings in a week to our usual Tuesday/Thursday evenings or adding additional weeks if the scheduled calendar allows. Many of our students do continue with classwork outside of program hours which is to their personal credit. We warn everyone that the calendar published for the year includes a tentative date of completion that will be adjusted. We appreciate that the students do understand this and continue to attend. Let's hope that this year's weather is an anomaly!