As teachers, we are natural planners. We like to have a plan for everything. We want to know what we will be teaching and how we will be teaching it so that we know what materials we will need and so that class runs more smoothly. However, sometimes things come up, and we unexpectedly have to be out and plan to have a sub. If we are lucky, we know about it before we leave work. But, there will be times when we don’t realize we need a sub until late at night, the night before, or early in the morning when we wake up. That’s why it is essential to have some quick and easy, ready-to-go simple sub plans that anyone can do, which doesn’t cause you to lose a day of learning. Here are three lesson ideas that make for great sub plans.
Lesson Idea #1: Digital Notebooks
Digital notebooks are great to use for a sub day, as long as the wifi doesn’t go out. Digital notebooks can be used at the end of a unit to review what they have learned and practiced. They can also be used at the beginning of a unit to explore the topic and research the information. With digital notebooks, the sub doesn’t have to be an expert in your subject or even know your subject. All the substitute teacher needs to do is walk around and help guide the students to use their notes, if it is a review, or google search if it is being done at the beginning. The heavy learning is all on the students.
Lesson Idea #2: Guided Readings
I prefer one-page guided readings over the textbook because it has everything the student needs in one simple page. You could send the PDF to your school’s secretary or the actual substitute and have them make copies or use the digital version to make it even easier. Students can mark the text, circle key vocabulary, and underline key details with guided readings. The substitute can guide the students through the reading, and you can leave instructions for the teacher to do the first read by reading the whole page, a second read where students circle the vocabulary, and then a third read where students underline key details. Students can then take what they circled and underlined and create notes with the information. After they make their notes, they can fill in a comprehension worksheet to demonstrate their understanding of the reading. Guided readings are great to use during the explain phase of the 5E model, but they can also be used as extension activities or explore activities.
Lesson Idea 3#: In Class Flipped Lesson
Whether you are doing the flipped classroom model or not, providing an in-class flipped lesson is a quick and easy way for students to get the information still while you are gone. In a typical flipped lesson, the students would be watching a video at home that contains all of the basic information about the topic. They would engage with the video, take notes, and then do a review and reflection activity afterward. When you have a substitute, you could have the students do the flipped lesson in class. This is what I do most of the time I have a substitute. My students watch the video (Note: there are some great videos on Youtube if you don’t have time to create your own. You can find my science videos here: https://www.youtube.com/adventuresinistem1), they take notes from the video and answer questions while watching it, they then take a short multiple-choice quiz). Because my videos are usually 3.5 minutes long, I also provide an extension activity like a Quizizz review game or a menu choice for them to choose what they want to work on after the flipped lesson is done, and there is still time left in class.
These lessons allow you to relax at home, knowing that your students are still getting the information and that the lesson is easy for the substitute to follow.