When I started teaching gifted education, I spent a lot of time leaving intricate lesson plans for substitutes for my gifted and talented classes. Once I learned to leave solid generic lesson plans for my students, I could quit worrying about what will happen to students during enrichment class time with an untrained sub. Instead of rearranging a lukewarm version of the planned lesson, create simple learning activities for their gifted students that will work any day, any month, any moment.
This takes a little bit of advanced planning, because you need to order these CDs and have a cd player handy, but once you have this kit ready, you will not worry about calling in sick at 6:30 in the morning again. A listening activity is a good emergency lesson plans because it is easy for the substitute to execute. Solving mysteries is interactive and can lead to class discussion.
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 stories on the CD, including:
“The Haunted Tool Shed”
“The Neighborhood Stink”
“The Missing Monkey-Eye Diamond”
Each story is about an hour. Substitutes could skip forward past the music to bring the story length down. Teachers should leave paper and pencils (even if students normally bring them) along with the CDs, so substitutes can have the students note important clues as they listen to the CD, and write the solution when they think they know it. After the story ends, the class will know the real solution.
3rd-6th grade students would really like the stories. The CDs are from David Keane’s books, and they (along with the books) are published by Harper Collins (ISBN: 0061227609).
Jeremy Brown’s Four-Minute Forensic Mysteries are great learning activities 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.
5th – 8th grade students will like the mysteries, and they are fun and engaging. They are also good activities for those days when lesson plans are interrupted by fire drills and assemblies. 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)
Emergency lesson plans need to be prepared in advanced, and they can be left in an area that can be easily found. If the students know where the lesson plans, cds, and the cd players are, they can help the substitutes get class started. These are fun all-purpose enrichment lessons that will ease a sick teacher’s mind about what is going on in the classroom. Advanced planning makes unprepared moments 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.
A version of this article was published on February 25, 2009 by Alex Sharp on Suite101. Read “Emergency Lesson Plans for Substitutes in the Gifted Classroom” for more ideas on lesson plans to leave for substitute teacher.