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Sub PlansWe all can fall victim to emergencies requiring two or three days out of the...

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ktmagalia | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted July 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM via web

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Sub Plans

We all can fall victim to emergencies requiring two or three days out of the classroom. Other than shoving in a movie, what kind of sub plans are in your tool box?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 8, 2010 at 2:14 PM (Answer #2)

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Project time! Numerous possibilities, but for me as an English teacher, getting a class to create a newspaper based on a work of literature provides ample material to cover at least a week without even the hint of the necessity of showing a video. For example, what would the Verona Times look like in the time of Romeo and Juliet? Papers have to include main headline, gossip column, society pages, maybe a "thought for the day" column from Friar Lawrence etc etc... each of these can be given to different students or groups of students and they can produce it on computer. If different groups all do the same task it can be turned into a competition where the groups vote for the best. Shakespeartastic!

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 8, 2010 at 4:30 PM (Answer #3)

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I usually have some backup work that supports what we have been working on in class. It needs to be updated frequently, but it works well. Sub plans have changed a bit since computers became such a permanent part of teaching life--I can email up-to-date info/attachments to one of my fellow teachers, to give to the sub, so that the folder itself doesn't have to contain quite so much. If I do leave something like a video, the kids have to do something other than just watch...write a summary, do something that means they have to watch carefully.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 8, 2010 at 5:59 PM (Answer #4)

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I like the idea #2 - but for me it fully depends on the class and the sub.  If I have particularly outstanding classes or a particularly outstanding sub - I'm never really worried about losing an instructional day or two for an unplanned absense.  Somehow the work gets done and the break is ultimately an okay thing for everyone.

I often use these days to provide kids with extra "independent reading" time which is, again, a healthy "break" for everyone I think.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 8, 2010 at 6:52 PM (Answer #5)

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I generally try to have a film of some sort scheduled for substitute teachers, but as an English teacher, I usually have a short story saved as a backup plan. In-class writing assignments or several short essays are also a good way to keep the students quiet and on-task--not always a simple task when a sub steps in.

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted July 8, 2010 at 7:45 PM (Answer #6)

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The best sub plan if you're teaching British Literature is reading Margaret Edson's Wit.  It's a truly engrossing play that lower and  higher level students love.  You just need a very strong reader for the part of Vivian and you're good.  It works well with British literature because the protgonist is  professor of 17th century British literature, specifically the works of John Donne.  She is dying of ovarian  acancer.  But she is very witty.  So the play combines humor and pathos.  Students love this play.  Suba love this play.  It works!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 8, 2010 at 8:57 PM (Answer #7)

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Plans depend greatly upon the students you have.  But, the Scrabble board game has been a boon with certain high school classes.  Of course, we played on some Fridays prior to my absence, so I would know who would behave and enjoy the game. 

For those not inclined to enjoy the wordgames, interest levels, especially in a class that is mostly girls, has been high for an assignment to be the Writer of an advice column.  Students are given letters that they must answer.  As Editor, the teacher instructs the students about their newspaper column, etc.  (Some classes have loved this assignment.)

Films that follow the reading of a novel, play, or short story work well for substitutes, especially when the students realize that they will be tested on the literary work. Reading is also good; however, they must write to me about what they have read in the class period.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 8, 2010 at 9:59 PM (Answer #8)

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Scrabble tiles is my primary backup plan, though that's not feasible for more than one day, I think.  I, too, have a great sub who knows how I work and how to maintain my classroom and my curriculum.  I do have a medieval crest assignment (primarily for british Lit) which is good for a day or two.  Students have to represent themselves using no words or traditional symbols (i.e., no basketballs or musical notes) in four parts: something they love, something they are, something they do, and something they believe.  I think being gone is more work than being there, that's for sure!

Lori Steinbach

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 9, 2010 at 1:37 AM (Answer #9)

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I have a number of topic-specific jeopardy games ready to go on a moment's notice.  They're on paper, so I don't have to worry about technology issues, or sub limitations, easy to copy and the kids already know how to play the game.  I also like to set up blogs with web-based research assignments ahead of time, then all I need is the library time and a link for the sub.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 9, 2010 at 4:07 AM (Answer #10)

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Depending on the sub I am able to get, I leave what I would normally be teaching.  Could be impromptu speeches, socratic seminar, projects, library research.  I rarely show entire movies, usually just excerpts so that we can discuss the differences in attitude, the effects of lighting and music that may or may not have been there in the text, etc. 

I do have an emergency plan set aside though, mostly with exercises in enhancing student skill with literary terms, assessing author's purpose, and study/listening skills.  One game I have is a set of three wild drawings labeled A, B, and C.  I break the kids into three groups.  One person in each group is the "describer" and the others try to draw the wild drawing just by oral directions.  The describer takes up all the drawings and puts them in a folder to be looked at later.  All groups go to the next table, and conduct the same project only with a different person as describer.  Later, we show the original drawing and some of the students' peices.  Then we have a discussion about why none of the kids' drawings are exactly like the original--importance of detail, of listening carefully, of good oral communication, etc.  It's always fun.

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moonmomx2 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 9, 2010 at 2:43 PM (Answer #11)

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I have several sets of BINGO games made that lets the students stay actively involved in the lessons but is easy for the sub to play with the class. I have "ATOMS" chemical symbols to names of elements."BONES" Scientific names of the bones. Presidential BINGO-"fun facts about presidents. States to capitals. Counties of Alabama. Organelles of cells matched to functions. Metric conversion. Customary measurement conversions. Basic science terms matched to definitions. It is easy to make a game out of almost any subject we study. Free BINGO card makers are available online.

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burbina | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 9, 2010 at 6:26 PM (Answer #12)

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Luckily, I've always worked with a team (middle school and freshman center), so I've always had 2 other people that were at school to cover me with a sub to make sure what needs to be done is getting done.  As a team, we all do the same thing...use the same powerpoints, same handouts, etc...so any member of my team can prepare a sub for what I need done for the day...or 2...I may be gone.

Otherwise, the secretaries in my buildings have always been very helpful, and if I have to call in at the last minute, I can type up instructions for the sub and attach handouts and email them to the secretary.  OR...if I don't have the documents I need at home, I can call or text a fellow teacher, even if they aren't on my "team" and they will login to my computer and get the files my sub will need. 

I think successfully preparing for a sub is simple...with a good team of friends and co-workers behind you.  You just have to make sure the efforts go all the way around and aren't one sided.

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carolynrowe | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 12, 2010 at 9:52 AM (Answer #13)

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Sub Plans

We all can fall victim to emergencies requiring two or three days out of the classroom. Other than shoving in a movie, what kind of sub plans are in your tool box?

Sub plans are a particular issue for me.  I teach two levels of Math (MS/HS), 2 levels of PE (MS/HS), Drama and Journalism.  In addition, my small school does not hire a sub to take over my classes...but they are always covered.  My best solution to this is identifying a class member to be responsible for knowing what tomorrow is going to look like as well as being the student director for the day.  There are, of course, formal plans on file with my administration.  However, our weeks don't always move according to written plan.  This keeps a lesson moving forward instead of wasting a day.  My math classes can always use a competitive round of basics...pre-made addition, subtraction, PARTICULARLY fraction equations...my "treat drawer" holds both the worksheets and the certificates to the school store to use as rewards. (We are a no sweets, no caffeine school)  Having a sub act as a good guy makes the lesson both meaningful and fulfilling.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 26, 2010 at 4:37 AM (Answer #14)

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It's tough because I find that drawing up truly stellar plans for a sub in my classroom is actually more work than being there.  I think that in a planned absence, I give the kids a copy of the plans I leave for the sub and then go over them with the kids telling them what I expect them to do.  In the event, I am not there, I email my plans to the sub and then communicate with the other teachers in my hallway to keep an eye out on things.  I try not to leave a movie, unless there is a detailed enrichment sheet to go along with it.  I think it's tough to ask a sub to keep an eye on kids who will be restless for about 30 minutes with nothing to do.  I usually tell the sub to play the film in 10 minute intervals, and give the kids four minutes to collaborate on the enrichment sheet with one another.  They think it's "cheating" to work with one another, but since they're talking about work, it's cool with me.  The subs seem to like it because they can use extra minutes to collaborate as bartering if students are well behaved.

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kristenfusaro | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted July 29, 2010 at 3:57 AM (Answer #15)

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Project time! Numerous possibilities, but for me as an English teacher, getting a class to create a newspaper based on a work of literature provides ample material to cover at least a week without even the hint of the necessity of showing a video. For example, what would the Verona Times look like in the time of Romeo and Juliet? Papers have to include main headline, gossip column, society pages, maybe a "thought for the day" column from Friar Lawrence etc etc... each of these can be given to different students or groups of students and they can produce it on computer. If different groups all do the same task it can be turned into a competition where the groups vote for the best. Shakespeartastic!

Thank you sooooo much for this idea! Every year I am so enthralled with planning my own lessons that when the administration start hounding us for our "Sub folders with one week of quality activity," I become flustered and irritated. This is a truly wonderful activity!

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kristenfusaro | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted July 29, 2010 at 4:02 AM (Answer #16)

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For junior and senior students, I usually leave a small collection of amazing college essays along with topics posted from top colleges. I ask them to read these essays, grade them on a given rubric, and explain their grade. As a culmination, students should begin brainstorming their own college essays based on one (or more) of the top topic suggestions.

For 9th and 10th grade students, I have a classroom set of O'Henry stories copied. My favorite two are "After Twenty Years" and "Hearts and Hands." I ask students to describe, in writing, what the definition of friendship is and whether or not friendship has limitations. After they read these stories, I then ask students to explain whether or not their opinions have changed. This particular activity also works very well as an open debate (on half-days!).

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desousam | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 11, 2010 at 8:55 AM (Answer #17)

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I have students choose 10-20 words that we have studied and create a crossword puzzle with questions and a key. They must have another student complete the puzzle. This will take at least 2 class periods. The students enjoy it! =)

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ajmchugh | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted August 19, 2010 at 4:29 PM (Answer #18)

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In all my years of teaching, I don't think I've ever used the emergency lesson plans I prepare and stick in my sub folder at the beginning of each school year.  But I agree, sub plans depend so much on the group and the sub.  Sometimes I offer general-level kids the opportunity to read during class, and surprisingly, I always get notes that they were reading silently bell to bell.  (This reinforces my theory that kids don't hate reading; it's just that given other choices--video games, etc--they'll choose those.)  I've also left group projects, practice persuasive essays, library research, etc.  Again, it depends on the class.

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liveurdreams | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:33 PM (Answer #19)

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I have always made sure I had sub plans ready.  I think that is really important.  I just don't want my students being taught anything or thinking that the day is a fun day to goof around.  My sub plans were always detailed but easy enough to follow.  Usually I would have some sort fun learning activities to make the day easier.  The only thing I can't stand is when you take the time to do sub plans and the sub doesn't follow them and does their own thing.

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