Everyone gets those situations in life where an emergency has come up at the last minute, and you don't have the time (or sometimes the ability) to get a good lesson plan in to school for your students. Maybe you have a family emergency, a disrupted travel plan, or need a slight ‘mental health break’ and you just can’t get into school to leave detailed lessons. That is why it is essential to have an emergency lesson plan available and handy.
The emergency lesson plan should be able to be used at ANY point in the year. It doesn't have to fit in with what you're currently doing (nor should it - it is to be used when you cannot leave normal sub plans). The lesson should be related to your normal curriculum, but it could be a supplement or an enrichment activity.
Get a folder (or a three-ring binder), and label it appropriately on the outside cover. There are even folders you can purchase (some schools even make these available to teachers) labeled 'sub folder' or 'emergency plans'. Also make sure you have an appropriate spot for your emergency folder on or in your desk area. And, of course, make sure it is easily accessible by a substitute teacher.
In my plans I always dedicate the first page to explain some of the dynamics of my classroom that he/she should be aware of. For example: Johnny has asthma and keeps an inhaler in the office, or Jane needs consistent encouragement to follow classroom rules, or watch out, Carla’s a biter!
When it comes to the activities, I prefer timing them to 10 - 15 minute increments. This helps the sub have better control of your kids. Students have difficulties adjusting to changes in their routines, and these shorter increments help break up an already “off” day.
Keep the information organized and easily accessible for a sub. The sub won't know where you normally keep things, and they can't read your mind. Spell out exactly what you want done, where it can be found, and what you want done with it when they're finished.
I always make sure I have made enough copies of any worksheets and usually leave the answer keys. Many subs will actually even grade your assignments for you if you ask them to - less work for you to have to do when you get back – yay!
EMERGENCY LESSON PLAN IDEAS:
Language Arts: Include short writing activities involving students’ opinions. Thus they don't have to have 'background' information, and they can write from their own experiences. Parts of speech review can include mad-libs or easy, fun worksheets.
Math: Leave a calculator activity. These could even be puzzles or partner games. Or give review problems. Have a math competition where student get to write their answers on the board.
Science: Copy a science article and have students read carefully and answer questions. Make speculations and use the scientific method. Or have students create the plans for a lab activity.
Reading: Leave students a copy of a short story or article, and questions to answer. You could even set up a 'test-taking' exercise, and discuss appropriate answers and strategies.
Social Studies: Map activities are great for emergency plans. You can even set up a one-day unit on any area/region of the world, including your own town or city.
These ideas could also be used for the substitute who whizzes through your normal lesson plans in half the day, and needs ideas that are better than, “Ok, just do your homework, kids.”
It is essential for you to have an emergency lesson plan available and handy. This will be just one less thing you have to think about while you’re out of work (working on your tan, probably).