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Ideas for When You Are Out

11/28/2017 | Written by Deana Zorko

I recently read this blog post in Path to Proficiency and began to reflect on my own sub plans for when I am not able to be in class. How can students effectively use class time to continue their work towards proficiency? Will they actually do what I leave them? After some contemplation, I thought…students will do the work and use their time effectively if it is an integral part of their classroom routine (with or without you in class), and if they see the direct connection to their learning. Can they/you afford to lose the instructional time? NO! It’s important to keep their proficiency moving towards the target.

On the average considering sick days, professional development, committee work and family obligations, teacher’s can miss as many as 10 school days. Since we don’t want to give up that instructional time, but recognize that we may need to be gone, I have compiled some of my favorite ideas (high tech and low tech options) that may assist you in planning for your days out.

High Tech

We are not a one-to-one school, so these ideas will mostly work for me for planned absences, however students can use their personal technology (if phones are permitted in your school) to access the sites and lessons to be completed.

Here are some links to some of my lessons:

To make the activities communicative, I built in slides where students can discuss prompts in groups and then continue on their own. There are also slides where they can check for understanding with mini quizzes. Activities can be submitted on line (Google classroom) or you can mix in the low tech idea with white boards and paper exit slips.

Low Tech

For interactive low tech options while you are gone, you can reuse many activities and classroom routines for students to complete with partners and/or in small groups. To make your lesson self sufficient for students, leave a key that the sub can hand out at the appropriate time for students to check their progress. Some of my favorite low tech activities and routines are tic,tac toe, gap speaking activities, listen/speak, vocabulary flippers. These activities can be formative with review and practice or they can be a little higher level thinking depending on the task assigned. You can determine what level of critical thinking the questions and tasks should be according to the level of your students.

Super low tech

For the day when no technology is available to your sub, here you will find some practical super low tech ideas for Practice with slips of paper

Whether your absence is planned or spontaneous, having these ideas in your back pocket based on routines and regularly implemented communicative activities, means that you can quickly pull together a sub plan whereby students continue down their path to proficiency, even if you aren’t able to watch every minute of their growth.


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