Independent Work With a Substitute

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SWBAT apply a writing process by work independently on a short written assignment.

Big Idea

A day with a substitute teacher is an opportunity to see what students can do on their own.


I am out of the classroom today attending a conference. These days are extremely challenging because students strongly resist getting any work done when I am not there. Students want to consider this a day off. Also substitute teachers generally have a very difficult time getting students to work and I have had several experiences where substitute teachers flatly ignore lesson plans I leave behind. The best I can do is leave clear directions to students with a clear measure of accountability. 

Instructions For The Day

What I do for today is write the lesson plans directly on the board for students to read. This has been more effective in the past than asking the substitute teacher to relay the message because somehow, the message seldom gets communicated in the way it was intended. This is the note on the board my students encounter today when walking into class. It is directed at them and lists the exact task they are to work on today. I include some accountability measures, as I explain in this video. The note stating consequences of choosing not to work is purposely written in red so that it stands out. Also, what is due today and the method of turning it in is circled in red for the same purpose. For this class, students were asked to finish reading to the end of page 26 of Ceremony and to draft the paragraph in which they analyze how Tayo was introduced. My students received a photocopied packet with all the pages I assigned so that they could easily annotate it. This packet was expected to be completely read and annotated by the end of the period.

The task of reading the rest of the pages assigned from Ceremony is very straightforward and there is no room for misunderstanding. I felt this was a good task to assign when I am not there. The other task, writing a character analysis is more difficult. However, in the previous lesson, I modeled the first part of a process I want them to follow, which is to select the evidence they will use in their paragraph and brainstorm analysis. I hope that if they do this part on their own successfully, their job will be almost done. They will just have to draft a topic sentence, make complete sentences out of the selected evidence and brainstormed analysis and add these to their paragraph in an organized manner. It is not the first time they do this and it is only one paragraph. It seems like a doable task.