Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sub Plans in Case of Emergency: Don't Leave School Without Them!

It is 3AM and the sound of a child's feet bolting to the bathroom and barely making it to the toilet before vomiting, wake you from a dream you were too tired to even know you are having because you are a teacher!

It is 3AM and you bolt out of bed and race to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before getting rid of everything you ate the day before!  Yuck!

As a teacher you don't stand over the toilet rubbing your child's back, wiping a pathetic face, or your own for that matter, and think, "Looks like a sick day tomorrow."

Instead you go into panic mode!  You get the floor/your child/yourself cleaned up, and you race to your computer.  You shakily put in for a sub, and pray to the sub gods that someone is able to cover your class in a few short hours.  Then you get frustrated with yourself because you should have gotten things together before you left the day before.  You should have sensed that you or your child could possibly get sick and planned better.  Ugghhh, I know that feeling.

I also know the feeling of driving to school at 4:30 AM after getting a sick child settled back into bed and putting in for a sub, so I could race to my classroom, make copies, set out my sub plans, all to make sure my students' learning would not be interrupted in my absence.  As teachers, it is more of a hassle to be out for a day, which is why so many of us tend to "warrior-it-out" when we are sick and come and teach anyway.  You can't do that when you are throwing up or when you have a sick kiddo, however.

As organized and prepared as I think I am, I still get caught off guard.  In order to be as prepared as possible, I always have a binder on my desk with Emergency Plans.  In this Emergency Binder I keep:
  • the names of my teammates so that they have a go-to person all day
  •  a schedule for the day: times for each class, specials, lunch, recess,dismissal, and any duties I have
  • up-to-date seating charts
  • lunch count and attendance lists
  • lesson plans that match the copies and work materials that I have left so the substitute knows exactly what needs to be completed, turned in, etc.
  • specific directions about lining up, dismissal, etc.
  • reward bucks for students to earn (yes, I bribe while I am out)
  • info about how I want the classroom left-chairs pushed in, garbage off of the floor, desks lined up.  This may seem jerky, but here is how I word it, "At the end of the day, please have the students organize the classroom exactly how it appeared when they entered in the morning."  I despise walking into a classroom that looks like a hurricane swept through upon my return, so this is how I try to fix that.
Despite having my binder with random student work, I wanted something even better.  So I created  Print and Go Emergency Language Arts Sub Plans for Grades 4-8 resource to make my life a bit easier.  I plan to make about 4 more of these to cover myself in case of any future-sick-kiddo years.  Depending how long your ELA class periods are, this CCSS resource will last for 2 days of instruction.  It includes:
  • 4-page high-interest reader’s theater script-Estimated Lexile Measure:800L
  • Reader Response Questions
  • Context Clue Word Work
  • Summary Strategy Organizer
  • Story Map
  • Text-Based Journal Prompt
  • Word Work Word Search
  • Story Cover Makeover
  • 3-High Interest Journal Prompts for Writing
You can grab it here if you are interested...


I would love to hear what you do to prepare your classroom for your unexpected absence.  In the meantime, here is to healthy thoughts!
post signature

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yuck! It's STILL winter! Some Upper Elementary Resources and a FREEBIE to make it through!

I am linking up with my friend, Carla at Comprehension Connection for her Thematic Thursday Link-Up.  The focus for this week is WINTER!


I enjoy winter in Ohio as much as I enjoy getting hit in the face with a snowy iceball!

Here is a favorite meme that my spinning instructor shared with me that makes me question the fact that I reside in Cincinnati...

I will tell you that despite my above rant-I don't complain a whole lot about it.  I know that by April or May, I will be loving life again and enjoying the fact that I get to spend 90% of my time outside.

I find this time to be tough on my own children and students as well.  They often are stuck inside for recess due to temperature restrictions and are antsy to get some fresh air and exercise. Watching videos, playing board games, and coloring are all great time-fillers for recess, but kids really just want to be outside.

While there is always an instructional calendar in place, my reading passages and novel unit selections vary each year during these winter months.  Some years I am perfectly fine with the colder weather, and other years all I can do to stay sane is dream of places like sunny Florida or dry and temperature-perfect, Arizona, while I am bundling up and racing around to stay warm.


If you are looking for a novel to share with your upper elementary students to help them escape the cold, check out Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.  The setting of the novel is sunny Arizona.  While you navigate through this mystical, realistic fiction novel, it will feel like a mini-escape from the cold temps, at least for a little while. This novel is about a girl that after being home-schooled, enters high school at Mica Area High School where her uniqueness is not welcomed.  Her non-conformity irks all the wrong people and she battles with the idea of staying true to herself or changing in order for people to like her.  It is the perfect novel to share with students that are at this impressionable stage and heading to middle school.

When I am really over all of the student complaints about cold, I love to share Woodsong by Gary Paulsen with my students.  This is the ideal text to share with my students in the bitter cold January and Feburary winter months because while we complain about the cold here in Cincinnati, it certainly isn't as cold here as it is in Minnesota or Alaska, for goodness sake!  The novel is a memoir of what led Gary to train and run the Iditarod in Alaska.  Your students will not even think about complaining of the cold when they read about Gary's experiences running a trapline through the Minnesota woods and the different stages of the unforgettable dogsled race.  Here is the novel and unit to assist your instruction...


And when you realize that you can't beat winter, so you just need to join it, there is this fun reader's theater for fluency, word work, comprehension, and writing fun.  Your students will love reading this high interest realistic fiction passage about a snowy recess in which the assistant principal's silly action leads to a student getting carried away and injuring another. The lesson students will take away is that "Rules are made for a reason" and we as adults need to be reminded of that sometimes.


And finally, a FREEBIE...


Stay warm!

post signature

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Upper Elementary to Middle School Resources

Every year the return to school in January is C-R-A-Z-Y!  Despite state testing not taking place until May, it seems like it is a time where we go into uber TEST PREP mode.  In addition to lots of test prep work, I begin a writing piece, start a novel unit, administer DRAs, students are DIBELed, and the list of goes on and on.

One thing I have struggled to focus on minus a You Tube video snippet or a showing of My Friend, Martin, is a true sharing with my students about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  My lack of focus is unintentional, and with some writing time, this year I vowed to not ever let that happen with my instruction.  Because I don't want to slight my students from learning about a significant individual in our American history, I created two separate resources.

The first is a set of 20-informational text task cards spanning his life.  The task cards are common core aligned and cover grades 4-6 RI. 1 and RI 3.  They can be used in a literacy center, as a class scoot, or in small groups.  These are an ideal tool to share with students to learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while helping students navigate informational text effectively.  Click the image to grab them from my TpT store!


Another resource I created is this reader's theater script.  The text focuses on a group of students doing research in order to present information to the class about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Your upper elementary to middle school students will love performing this script and will be able to complete reader response questions, context clue word work, journal writing, and an interactive notebook page based on information shared in the selection.  This resource is also common core aligned and covers both reading literature and writing standards-RL.1-4 and W.4 and L.5 for grades 4-8.  Click the image to grab it!

Both of these resources are on sale for $1 each!  I would love for you to incorporate them into your instruction.  Your students will LOVE them!

Keep me posted on any great resources you use when teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

post signature

Labels: , , , , , ,