Sub Plans

Kevin asked about sub plans:
Hi Ben,
Just wondering what you and/or others on the blog do for both planned and unplanned teacher absence?  In the past, I have just had a “cultural video” on the back shelf for substitutes to use, but I’m wondering if there are other ideas out there that can still give the kids a good amount of CI even though I am absent (and the sub may not know any Spanish).  I suppose I could have a reading prepared, but as the class becomes more proficient, they tend to become obsolete.  Another option is FVR, but I wouldn’t want them to do that for a whole period.
My response: my own take on how to best use that time when we are gone is in FVR and writing. So what I usually do is ask the sub to start out with free voluntary reading and to stretch that out as long as possible, up to 25 minutes, then give the kids free write blank sheets with only lines on them asking them to write for ten or fifteen minutes according to the following instructions:

Free Write Rules

Write without stopping for 10 minutes.
When time is up, count the number of words and put in
bar graph section in your composition book, with dates.
No English words in the story except for names.
Keep the sentences and story line simple.
Get your story idea ahead of time.
Use lists if you have them.
Use words that you already know.
If you don’t know a word, don’t use it or reword the idea.
Use as many adjectives as possible.
Spell as accurately as you can and then move on.
Add another character when you get stuck.
Use posters from the room as help.
Illogical stories are o.k.

[ed. note: there is a poster of those rules available on the resources/posters page of this site]
One more thing I might try to fit in there is at the start of class to take a mini-novel and – if the sub can swing it – have the kids read chorally out loud for five minutes just to see if they can get quickly  through a chapter. So that would be a class with (times estimated):
a. choral reading from a mini-novel (5 min.)
b. FVR (20 min.)
c. free write (15 min.)



9 thoughts on “Sub Plans”

  1. When I am gone I have the kids add another page to their story books. It’s a 10-page book where they decorate the cover and the table of contents. I’ll leave out the markers for the sub and say something like on page 5 write a story we have already done in class and on page 6 create your own story. I’ll never grade these but I’m thinking about doing some sort of portfolio writing assignment with them at the end of the year.
    We have a few days of pull-out time per quarter so it’s great to have these books on hand and great for an emergency sub too.

  2. here’s my standard sub plan, planned or unplanned:
    Reading activity as per instructions that follow.
    For these next activities related to the text students are to read, please
    keep a brisk pace. Your guidance is critical to the success of these
    First, distribute the reading and have students read the text silently.
    Allow 2 to 3 minutes.
    Second, ask for volunteers to read one sentence at a time, translating into English.
    Third, students read out loud to one another. They are
    accustomed to reading to the person sitting next to them. If no one
    sitting next to them, create a triad. Remind them to read sentence by
    sentence in Spanish, translating into English (i.e. Mi nombre es Bob. My
    name is Bob. Soy chico. I am a boy. Etc). Allow time as needed.
    Next we have two options on how to proceed (you can read these two
    options to the students or write them on the board):
    OPTION 1 – For a letter grade of C for the class period, a student may:
    translate the story, **into English**, on a sheet of white printer paper.
    Next, using colored pencils from my drawer, they must illustrate the story
    in 6 frames. Draw six frames on the back of the white printer paper. In
    each frame, write 1 sentence from the story **in Spanish**. _Draw_ the
    meaning of that sentence in the frame with detail, care, and color.
    OR OPTION 2 – for a letter grade of B or A (depending on quality) a
    student may:
    Retell the story in Spanish, changing the story to add new and interesting
    details while using as many –MENTE words or -ión words as possible.
    Then they must illustrate this new story in only 4 frames. Draw 4 frames
    on the back of the white printer paper. In each frame, write 1 sentence
    from the story **in Spanish**. _Draw_ the meaning of that sentence in the
    frame with detail, care, and color.
    It’s changed a bit for the beginning of the year, as I don’t do “stories” until aftr the first Tri

  3. Directions:
    You will be creating short stories that are easy enough for a Spanish 1 class to read and understand. Keep your vocabulary in bounds to the words and phrases below. The tricky part is finding a good combination of phrases that yields a great 6-frame story.
    For example use the same 3 verbs tiene, va, quiere comprar. The story becomes: a boy doesn’t have a cell phone. The boy wants to buy a cell phone. The boy goes to WalMart but Walmart doesn’t have the cell phone…
    Make it strange. It can be a dinosaurio without a cell phone. It can be that Paris lost it’s moon and buys another one from a magical unicorn
    If you MUST include out-of-bounds vocabulary, use cognates: magico, automatico, etc.
    Have someone proofread your Spanish before you write it out.
    Be creative and draw well!
    se llama
    a ___ le gusta
    “Te quiero mucho”
    le da
    quiere tener
    quiere ser
    quiere comprar
    quiere hablar
    mira a
    vive en
    abraza a
    tiene hambre
    toca el piano
    se levanta
    se sienta
    la playa
    la luna
    el hospital
    el parque
    el supermercado
    el aeropuerto
    other proper nouns

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