First, the lesson material
What About the Structure?
Consider pre-recording directions in your own voice for your students. This serves two purposes: First, the class will know that the lesson directions are coming from you and they will feel accountable to you. Second, you will be confident that every student in every class period heard the same thing. You can hold everyone accountable. There will be no doubt if students claim that something was unclear or they did not know they had to do it.
Note: If you have not done it, recording audio is really easy. Search your computer for a "voice recorder" app, and just hit "record." When you are done with your message to your kids, just "save as" an audio file on your desktop, and you can insert it into your display page in word or power point similar to inserting an image.
Keep it really simple. Make a single slide with directions in both written and recorded audio format. Put that single file onto a flash drive. Then lay it out with the papers and a flash drive on your desk.:
The example in the picture is one of my favorite sub plans for high school Geometry. It starts with an "Always, Sometimes, Never" coloring challenge on triangles, which reviews triangle classifications in a deeper-thinking way. Then students do a triangle card sort that requires them to use all the different tools, theorems, and properties they know about triangles.
Both of these are self-checking. The coloring one ends up in a pattern, so kids can see if they slipped up at the end. For the card sort, the sub hands out the numbered "answer cards" at the end, and the students verify that they put each card in the correct pocket.
This means that I have no grading to do when I come back!
I also like to use self-checking "GridWords" puzzles (Factoring ones for Algebra or Prime Factorization ones for middle school).
Other "Tools" to include in your Sub Kit
Tips from the Experts
It really works! I get notes from subs that are full of praise for the students and they often have difficulty choosing the most perfect class." Read more of Kacie's great tips on her blog, Managing and Motivating Math Minds.
What do you have in YOUR emergency sub toolbox? Leave a comment below to share!
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7/9/2015 10:30:42 am
I love the idea of recording the directions for the students! No more, "the sub didn't tell us to do that..."
7/9/2015 03:57:59 pm
I am definitely your voice recording and Kacie's classroom competition ideas. Excellent post-Thank you for the ideas!
5/20/2016 10:55:39 am
Thank you so much for this article. This is exactly what I needed. This year I switched from English to math, and I have struggled with what to do on sub days, other than practice worksheets or letting them play online. Because of this I have avoided taking any time off. Now I feel that next year I won't be so concerned about bringing in a sub. you're the best!!!!!
5/20/2016 01:19:12 pm
Amy J Jones
4/1/2018 11:10:59 pm
I am a new sub, doing some research on how to make my job easier. What I really wish is that teachers had a CLEAR and CONCISE explanation of their classroom management system-- and trust that I cannot deal with a very complicated system, when I am learning names. Oh yeah-- would it be so hard to leave me some nametags? Or at least sticky notes to make into nametags? I *Love* seating charts. I loathe "let them on the computer all day" as much as I loathe busywork sheets that the kids say they already did before.
4/3/2018 11:57:04 am
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