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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sub Plans in a Flash!

It's May, ya'll! And I am feelin' it. In a BIG way! Can I get an Amen?  August is the most exhausting month in teaching, but May is the busiest.  I'm not complaining at all... trust me, I know that if I can just survive May, I'll be home free for the summer.  And I'm so thankful for the profession I chose and its perks!

I was out 4 days in April for trainings and doctor's appointments.  And in May, I'll be out 5 days.  I'd like to say some of those are personal days for my sanity, but they're not.  All workshops.  In fact, I haven't even taken one single personal day this year because I've had too many workshop days to count!  All of that to say...I'm in the middle of writing sub plans AGAIN for Monday.

I have my basic sub plan outlines that I use, but I'm always looking for productive and doable activities for the kids to do while I'm gone.  I'm not a fan of independent worksheets.  But let's face it, when you have a sub, that's just the easiest thing to give them...And even then, sometimes, know where I'm going....

But even when I save or make worksheets for subs, I'm pretty picky about them.  Since I've been gone at least twice a month for meetings this year, I don't have time for wasteful, pointless worksheets.   I want them to be easy to understand, be something we've practiced multiple times in class already, and be more than just a color-by-number...they need to at least make the kids think a little bit!

So, here are a few packets that I use in my classroom during stations or as productive group activities when we are learning new things.  But I also leave them as review for subs!

This is my brand new phonics sorts packet.  I have left 2 sorts with subs already and it was perfect and so easy!  In fact, I wrote the directions in my sub plans in a way that all I have to do the next time is copy and paste the directions and change out the sounds!  Sorts have always been a go-to sub activity for me.  But it's hard to always find a sort that incorporates your focus sounds only!  So I made my own!  These sorts coordinate with Systematic Phonics curriculum we use. {You can also find my making words interactive flip chart that we use for the actual lessons here.}

We also use poems for our weekly shared reading pieces.  We read them whole group together, find rhyming words, phonics patterns in words, sight words, vocabulary, etc all week long.  On Fridays the students get their own copy of the poem to highlight the focus skill for the week and then illustrate.  It goes in their 3 ring poetry binder and at the end of the year, they have over 40 poems to take home to practice during the summer!  Poems are easy things for subs to do, too!  If I know I'm going to have a sub, I usually save the poem page from the poem we've practiced and let the kids work on highlighting and illustrating with the sub.  They also read it as a class and so that at least gets them some on-grade level reading practice while I'm gone. {I do NOT have my subs do guided reading or even literacy stations while I'm}

Several of my Common Core Units have some shared reading/daily messages that I've written that coordinate with the unit we are on.  I save these when I have subs too and use them just like I use the poems {we've already written the messages and read them together, they just re-practice and highlight and illustrate!}  Click on the images below for links to my units that have daily messages in them.

During my daily math instruction, we do CGI math {you can read more about it here} and a math wall time {you can read more about that here} every day.  So, when I have a sub, I do not leave any CGI math...BUT, I have started leaving my math wall handout.  We do math wall on our Promethean boards, but each math wall unit has a coordinating handout that students can fill in.  I just put today's number in the box and make copies.  Then, I leave basic directions {that are easy to copy and paste!} for each box.  The students are familiar with the procedures because it's something we do every day!  I also leave an answer key for those subs that may need a little extra guidance with their math skills! *wink, wink*  I have a math wall unit for each of the Common Core units, but this is the sample from our current unit.

One of my newest math packets is another great sub fill-in!  Students not only love these printables for the song it's named for, but also because trying to figure out the number that goes in the box to make the equation true is like solving a puzzle to kids.  They love LOVE it!  And it's a little "beefier" than coloring pages.  They really have to think, justify their answer, and use several of the math practices.

I love coming across new ready-to-use sub activities! What's your go-to sub activity?