Unexpected sick days happen. Avoid worrying about what will happen to students during G/T class time with an untrained sub, by preparing generic lessons in advanced.
When a teacher has a sick child (or is personally sick), there is nothing more miserable than running up to school at 6:30 in the morning to adapt the day's lesson plan for a substitute teacher. Enrichment class time, especially pull-out time, is so limited and special that it seems irresponsible to cancel the pull-out class or have study-time. Instead of rearranging a mediocre version of the planned lesson or spending time calling the substitutes who can sort of the puzzles of differentiated lessons, teachers can create generic lessons to leave for their gifted students that will work any day, any month, any moment.
Solve Mysteries as a Class
If teachers have a CD player, emergency lesson plans become really easy for the substitute to execute. There are several books on CD that students can listen to, but solving mysteries is interactive and can lead to class discussion.
Elementary Mystery Collection on CD
The Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective CD Audio Collection by Dave Keane gives about 3 1/2 hours of listening time, which could be the length of a pull-out block. The collection has three books on the CD, including:
The Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective series is appropriate for elementary and middle school students. 3rd-6th grade would be the most interested audience. The CDs are from David Keane's books, and they (along with the books) are published by Harper Collins (ISBN: 0061227609).
Middle School and Junior High Mysteries on CD: Jeremy Brown's Four-minute Forensic Mysteries are perfect for secondary students. There are 25 stories on the CDs, and at four minutes long, they can be adjusted for any length of a secondary classroom. Teachers should leave pencils and papers for the substitute to give the students, and they will write down clues as they listen to the stories.
Brown's collection is taken directly from his books, which are published by Scholastic. Four-minute Forensic Mysteries: Body Of Evidence is available on CD. (ISBN: 0439898501)
The Best Reproducible Thinking Game Books
Brain Games (ISBN:1576909697) and Brain Games 2 (1420630180) are worksheet collections that are divided up for different ages and ability, making the collection appropriate for any classroom. The worksheets at the beginning are better for younger students, and the worksheets at the end are better for older students. Teachers can copy these worksheets and leave the book (with excellent directions and an easy to use answer key) for substitutes.
The book has worksheets that stimulate students and focus on:
Establish an Area of the Classroom to Leave Emergency Lesson Plans
Emergency lesson plans need to be prepared in advanced, and they can be left in a conspicuous place. The location of the emergency lesson plans should be noted in the teacher's general sub folder (which should have the student roster and medical emergency information). Teachers can enlist students for help on where the lessons will be left, so they can help the substitute find the emergency lesson plans.
Once teachers accept that it is okay to postpone the presentations or project work – even if students were prepared and looking forward to it – they find that they can leave the sort of fun, all-purpose enrichment lessons that are perfect for days when life gets in the way of teaching. Some preparation in advance makes those unprepared moments so much easier for everyone. Even though it is always best to stay on schedule, students can be flexible and enjoy some logic sheets and solve some mysteries while teachers take care of themselves and their families at home.
Originally posted on Suite101 on February 26th, 2009
Ally Sharp is a teacher, writer and editor, and technology trainer.