Substitute Plans

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With weather turning nasty and assorted illnesses going around, it’s a great time to look at substitute plans, both general thoughts and ideas for Emergency Lesson Plan sets.
First of all, I’ve subbed some in the past, and there are a few things that, although they may seem obvious, a surprising number of people miss:

  • It’s a good idea to copy in advance; subs may not be given copy codes.
  • Leaving instructions on how to turn on the TV/what channel to use if there are video announcements is a good idea.
  • Say if you want work collected or if students are to keep it.

A lot of schools require the Emergency Lesson Plan: a set number of days of work that can be plugged in at any time in the semester, to be kept in a specific marked place. They will give you peace of mind if (heaven forbid) something happens to you; you don’t have to worry about getting a new set of plans to school on top of whatever else has happened.
Old National Latin Exams ( are a nice possibility for an Emergency Lesson Plan for a Latin class. Copy packets of them and leave them for the sub with instructions for kids to work their way through. You can leave an answer key so the sub can have the kids check their answers after a few days if you haven’t returned.
Similarly, review books can be a good way of leaving something that will be useful to the students but isn’t tied to one point in the year. I’m a fan of the Review and Test Preparation Guide series (Beginning and Intermediate); the books have an explanation of each concept, and then a long series of exercises. Students can work from them whether or not they have the textbook, and the explanations really do help review old information and introduce new information.
Also, if you can find the old Hodge series of books on Roman culture, they are tailor-made for Emergency Lesson Plans. They have readings and questions on the readings, all in a nice little half-sheet sized book. I pounce on them whenever I can find them at used book sales. (Some, though, are very much of their time, so you may need to pick and choose or leave explanations of dated analogies.)
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