Planning to be sick? - Room 213

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Planning to be sick?

It seems like an odd thing to do: plan to be sick.  In fact, those of us who work in germ factories hope to avoid it at all costs.  But it happens, precisely because we do work in germ factories.  Twenty-thirty bodies jammed in one hot room, using the same door knob, pencil sharpener and desks often means that we are sharing more than our knowledge.  So we need to go on hoping, but we also have to plan for that inevitable day when we wake up sick, with no lesson plan.

What can you do to plan ahead, when you really don't know what you will be doing in class at that point?  Well, the first thing you can do is create a binder that has your class list, seating plans, class procedures, etc. Keep it easily accessible near your desk, so on those days when you have no energy (or coherent thoughts), you don't have to spend anytime relaying that information.  I have all of mine in a binder right at my desk (it wasn't there yet when I took this picture!) You can grab the cover and spine I made for my binder: HERE

Ok, so your sub knows everyone's name and where they sit, but roll call will only fill a few minutes. What then?  Well, you can have a few one period lessons copied in the binder, ones that you don't need to do, but would keep the kids occupied and learning while you are gone.   You could include:

1. Grammar exercises

2. Writing activities

3. Interesting magazine or newspaper articles that they could read and discuss. (Here are some links you might want to check out:  New York Times, Time Magazine,  Kelly Gallagher's article of the week)

4. If technology allows, there are many amazing TED talks that students could watch and discuss.

For both the articles and the videos, include a sheet of instructions that the sub could use.  Students might be asked to summarize important points, write a detailed response or rebuttal, or they could do some creative writing based on the topic you have chosen.  It would take you a bit of time to create these, but it would be time well spent.  On the days when you need to stay in bed, they will be in your sub binder, ready to be copied, and you can rest, knowing your class will have something meaningful to do.

But what if you are at a place in your semester when you just can't give the kids a "filler" exercise?  What if you need to keep moving and keep them working on the text they have been studying?  What do you do to keep the ball rolling while you get your must needed rest?  Leave one of your great ideas in the comments --or a tip for staying healthy--and you will get a chance to win my Emergency Sub Plans, a product that has adaptable lesson ideas that focus on the texts that students are actually studying.

You can also find lots of other ideas over at Teachers Pay Teacher's blog.

Stay healthy!


  1. How do you plan ahead? Or, more importantly, what do you do to stay healthy?

  2. We use SCOPE magazine in our school and I try to have Friday be SCOPE day. I leave a SCOPE article and the enrichment activities for the article in a binder, and the sub can do that with the kids. I switch the activity out each month so the activity matches the magazine the kids currently keep in their binders. (and I don't waste paper/worksheets because I do the sub plans with the kids when I switch it out!!) Then, if I am sick on a day other than Friday, I just switch out SCOPE day. That way we are all caught up by the end of the week. Added bonus: I teach both 6th and 7th grade, and they use the same version of the magazine so my entire day is planned!!

    1. Tweenteacher, email me at, please!

  3. I purchased a book from the dollar store that had articles about famous inventors and worksheet type activities included. I also, bought a Myth busters dvd and created a worksheet that was attached to the show.


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