When I was in the classroom, we had to turn in a sub folder at the beginning of every year. This caused me great angst. What should I leave in it? When would I need it? I didn’t want to leave busy work, but to leave something in a folder for an “emergency” was far too overwhelming for someone like me to process. Honestly, I feel the worst thing you can do is require kids to do something that is absolutely pointless. What’s worse, inadequate plans are unfair to your substitute. Idle children, no matter how well behaved, can become little terrors from sheer boredom alone. Not to mention that wasting instruction time should be criminal in and of itself (but that is a conversation for another day). So, in light of the sub plan debacle, I have created grade-level specific sub plans that are aligned to Common Core and provide relevant practice for students.
For the students:
Each set provides a specific grammar skill for students. Instead of having students complete meaningless worksheets that don’t help them retain the skill, these grammar sheets introduce rules and have students practice those skills through various tasks. By embedding the skills in their own writing, students better retain the information.
Vocabulary Practice – Word of the Day
Students get one new word for the day. They are provided the part of speech and the definition. Students then practice the word with 3 different thought-provoking exercises. In the first activity, students find a synonym, antonym, use the word in a sentence and draw a picture that displays the word.
In the next activity, students make connections to themselves, text, and the real world. Lastly, students understand word relationships when they identify the parts of speech for 2 different forms of the vocabulary word. Students then use the word variations in sentences.
Each reading comprehension passage is an original, grade-level appropriate informational text with common-core aligned questions. To engage students, passages are about animals, plants, or insects that most people are unfamiliar with. Also, students can click on a QR Code that takes them to a video displaying what they have just read. (This is definitely the coolest part of the activity per the students who sampled the product for me.
Students read a short passage and revise and edit the passage to include more descriptive language by adding various types of figurative language, phrases, and parts of speech.
For students that may struggle or need a refresher on certain elements, students have a cheat sheet at the top of the page for their reference.
For the substitute:
To assist the substitute with the plans, there is a chart that details what the substitute can do to model for each activity and how to have students complete each activity. Designed for a 90-minute block, there is more than enough for students to do.
For the teacher:
Answer keys are provided for the activities. Also, the design of the activities allow for conversation and interaction after completion. The teacher can provide meaningful feedback that students can apply in other assignments, regardless of what they are.
For principals and administrators:
Sometimes you are left holding the bag when a teacher has an unexpected absence. These packs would work well for your middle school ELA classes.
One last note:
If you are not an ELA teacher, or this is not something you are looking for, I encourage you to consider what you leave your students to do in your absence. Meaningful work should not disappear in your absence. Instead, consider foundational skills that your students need to work on consistently, and devise a plan around those concepts. This will sharpen students while you are away, and make the most of instruction time. Also, consider how improbable it is for students to sit idly for an extended period of time. Allow them to work with a peer or discuss information with your substitute. You will be amazed at the outcome!