This document has grown out of an original document uploaded to the ISEnet ning by Jenni Voorhees “If school should be closed” 5/9/09, released there (and here) under a Creative Commons 3.0 SA/NC/A license. ~Demetri Orlando

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If school were to be closed for an extended period of time…
With your school laptop at home, you have access to all of your school files in your “My Documents” folder. You will not have access to files on the school servers. If there is a looming threat of school closure, you may want to take home your laptop (and power cord) every night, in case it is not possible to get back in the building.

The telephone is a familiar and reliable form of communication. You might consider how you would use it with your students if necessary. Do students have your phone number? Teachers can access class rosters and see student phone numbers in the gradebook program. Student home numbers are also on the school website portal and in the printed directory.

It would be smart to make sure that email works with all of your students in advance. We suggest a “homework” assignment that requires all of your students to reply to an email from you, in order to ensure everyone is connected. You can also create “rules” in your email settings to automatically move incoming messages into certain folders based on keywords (e.g. automatically filter messages by course or section.)

A list of ideas and suggestions about teaching remotely is provided below. Not all of these ideas will be for everyone, but you should think about (and plan for) how you might choose to communicate with students in the event of a school closure. If some of these tools are unfamiliar and you would like to learn more about them, please contact the tech department to set up a tutoring session.

Basic communication with students?
  • Email [create distribution lists for your courses ahead of time]
  • Phone [consider creating phone lists for your courses ahead of time]
    • Voicemail at home
    • Voicemail on your school number (e.g. students submit oral homework)
  • Teacher Websites [ensure that students are “enrolled” in your Moodle site ahead of time or that guest access is enabled]
  • Host virtual “office hours” at which you’ll be available via phone, instant-message, or chat room
Post assignments?
  • Gradebook System (limited space to describe assignments)
  • Blackboard (more detailed descriptions and/or resources can be posted)

Have a class discussion?
  • Set up discussion boards, blogs, or journals on Moodle
  • Set up a blog (e.g.
  • Set up discussion boards on a private ning
  • Do an email round-robin or chain
  • Text, audio, or video chat (e.g. Skype, Google, Yahoo, AIM, Moodle, Ning)
  • Electronic classroom (elluminate)
  • Use a telephone conference call (e.g.

Create a collaborative class resource?
  • Set up a wiki on (educators get ad-free wikis).
  • Use Google Docs – shared word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.
Do a research project?
  • Assign research projects to students using the libraries’ online subscription databases
  • Students may write papers, create a PowerPoint, etc., and email them
  • Post links to selected research sites on your website
  • Include contact info for the librarian on your website
  • Ensure students have access to necessary resources ahead of time
Share a document or a lesson?
  • Email it
  • Post it on your website
  • Create and share a Google Doc
  • Create a page on a Wiki
Provide an online tutorial for your students to complete?
  • Find web sites that already have tutorials set up (e.g. web-quests)
  • Post the link and the instructions on your class pages
  • Use the CD-ROM from the textbook or textbook website
Share audio files?
  • You can use “Audacity” on your laptop to record and edit audio files (laptops include a built-in microphone.) To email or post them online, they should be saved in mp3 format.
  • Use the phone and voice mail
  • Use to have students comment on text prompts or slides
Share video files?
  • Use a webcam attached to your computer to record yourself (can edit with Windows Movie Maker which is on our laptops)
  • Find existing videos on your topics (e.g. on YouTube or from other schools)
  • Upload to your website or post a link from your website
Create recorded lessons for students to watch?
  • Add audio narration to a PowerPoint and post it on your website
  • Jing lets you create 5 minute “screencasts” that show whatever you are doing on your screen and include your audio narration. You can create as many as you wish.
  • Camtasia is the full featured unlimited version of Jing. Freeware alternatives include Free Screen Capture.
Have students complete a test or quiz?
  • Use Blackboard
  • Do it over email
  • Use Google forms
  • Use survey sites like, or
  • Use quiz sites like

"In New York City, "The Department of Education’s Office of Teaching and Learning had assembled learn-at-home instructional packets for students and families. These learn-at-home instructional activity guides were designed for each grade level from pre-K to grade 8, with an additional packet for grades 9 through 12. These packets provided daily schedules, activities, and Web sites for students to engage in continued learning, including online course work provided via a partnership between NYC public schools and private online learning companies. Guides were accessible online or available for pick-up at centrally located offices.*"