Ideas and Resources for Substitutes from TeachersFirst

This collection of ideas and reviewed resources is selected to help both substitute teachers and regular teachers leaving instructions for a substitute. The list includes useful time-fillers for when plans are not a perfect fit as well as teacher-friendly suggestions to make subbing a positive learning experience for all. Be sure to check "In the classroom" suggestions for practical tips and ways to use these offerings.

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Interactive Cartesian Coordinates - James Hollis

Grades
4 to 12
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Explore Cartesian coordinates by dragging points on this interactive graph. Begin with the default version that includes three points, then move points to change the triangular shape...more
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Explore Cartesian coordinates by dragging points on this interactive graph. Begin with the default version that includes three points, then move points to change the triangular shape on the chart and view labels with the coordinate points and measurements of each side. Use the up/down arrows on the left side of the graph to add points or take advantage of other options allowing users to add or remove a view of the sides and coordinates.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): air (106), charts and graphs (169), coordinates (15), functions (52)

In the Classroom

Share this site on your interactive whiteboard or provide students time to explore on their own as they learn about Cartesian coordinates. Learn the basics of plotting points and identifying coordinates by exploring different options on this graphing site. Engage student interest in graphing coordinates by asking them to substitute paper graphs with this online graph. Then, have students take a screenshot to share the proper coordinates placement on the chart. As students learn more about coordinates and using equations to determine angles and length of sides, ask them to create explainer videos using Typito, reviewed here to describe the math concepts learned.

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101 Ideas for a Great Start - Iowa State University

Grades
K to 12
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This site offers 101 ideas for a Great Start to your school year, semester, or even January doldrums. (Okay, actually there are 111 with the 10 bonus ideas). The ideas ...more
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This site offers 101 ideas for a Great Start to your school year, semester, or even January doldrums. (Okay, actually there are 111 with the 10 bonus ideas). The ideas are broken down into sections: Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere, Set a Positive Tone, Encourage Active Learning, Encourage Students to Keep Up and Do Well, Provide Support for Students, Be Efficient and Effective with Your Time, Gather Feedback on Teaching, and the Bonus 10. Some of the tips are more suitable for college professors, but teachers of all levels can find numerous ideas at this site. There are a few links to other sites (at Iowa State University). Some of the sites are relevant; others are not. Some require Adobe Acrobat. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): firstday (22), newbies (14), substitutes (27)

In the Classroom

Use these activities at the beginning of the year (and throughout) to help your students acclimate to the new classroom. These tips are also very useful for substitutes or for teachers presenting at professional meetings.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Ten Creative Writing Activities - Traci Gradner

Grades
4 to 12
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This site offers ten widely-varied creative writing activities that range in level from upper elementary grades through high school. In some way, they all help the students be invested...more
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This site offers ten widely-varied creative writing activities that range in level from upper elementary grades through high school. In some way, they all help the students be invested in their writing by making the topic personal, from "found treasures" to "show and tell" which works as well (although differently) with high school students as elementary ones.

tag(s): creative writing (122), writing (315)

In the Classroom

These are great activities to have at the tip of your fingers for days when inspiration just runs dry or you are looking for a new approach to creative writing. You might have each student bring in one thing for your "found treasures" bag and then pull them out at random for a class story. The "jumble story" idea is also great because you can substitute current events or topical characters or settings.

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HippoCampus - Monterey Institute for Technology and Education

Grades
9 to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Find multimedia content and lessons ready to go, and customizable by your preferences on this incredible, free, online learning site. Whether you need a comprehensive curriculum for...more
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Find multimedia content and lessons ready to go, and customizable by your preferences on this incredible, free, online learning site. Whether you need a comprehensive curriculum for selected high school courses, a way to differentiate instruction, or materials to reinforce challenging topics, this site has it. The current subjects include Algebra, American Government, Biology, Calculus, Environmental Science, Physics, English, Religion, Economics, U.S. History, among others. The subjects extend through high school and into AP and college level material. Open a course at the left and browse the topics, especially the multimedia offerings. A free instructor account allows you to select the modules you want your students to see and share them via a unique URL for assignments or at-home review. Since the content is offered collaboratively from multiple sources, the courses each have their own "look." The ones our review team explored all included audio-- a real plus for ENL/ELL or low level readers.

tag(s): environment (240), OER (43)

In the Classroom

Explore the curriculum topics for your subject area and select some options for students to use in class or for review. This is also an excellent option for leaving plans for a substitute who may have no expertise in your subject area! Many of the multimedia modules are well-suited for interactive whiteboard or projector (or for students to navigate at an individual pace on laptops). Have gifted students? Allow them to "compact" new content and extend into higher levels using this site. Be sure to share a link from your teacher web page for students who need an alternate presentation of material or for absentees. Share this site at the beginning of the school year for students wanting more of a challenge.

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Icebreakers, Games, and Fun Group Activities - icebreakers.ws

Grades
K to 12
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Start the first day of school or a new marking period with a getting-to-know-you activity from this great, searchable collection. The activities are designed for all ages, so some will...more
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Start the first day of school or a new marking period with a getting-to-know-you activity from this great, searchable collection. The activities are designed for all ages, so some will not work well with very young ones (such as writing things on slips of paper). The site is easy to navigate and sorts ideas by group size and activity level for easy retrieval. There are also activity suggestions for distance and remote learning. You are also invited to submit your own ideas. Since the site is designed for general use, not for schools, some ideas may be impractical in a classroom setting but could be easily adapted. Substitutes - cgeck out some of these icebreakers, the kids will love them....and you!

tag(s): back to school (63), firstday (22), newbies (14), remote learning (61), substitutes (27)

In the Classroom

New or veteran teachers who want students to get to know each other as they enter a new school (starting middle school, for example), want to observe them so YOU get to know them, or need to build better team skills with a challenging class or club, will find ideas to try. Mark this one as a Favorite so you can find it again, since "first day" activities tend to get lost in the flurry ---and in the fading memory-- during the year.

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Educator's Reference Desk of Lesson Plans - Information Institute of Syracuse

Grades
K to 12
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Over 2000 lesson plans are at your fingertips when you visit this site. Find lesson plans on these topics: Arts, Computer Science, Foreign Language, Health, Information Literacy,...more
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Over 2000 lesson plans are at your fingertips when you visit this site. Find lesson plans on these topics: Arts, Computer Science, Foreign Language, Health, Information Literacy, Interdisciplinary, Language Arts, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, and Vocational Education.

tag(s): resources (88), substitutes (27)

In the Classroom

Some of the lesson plans are actually units designed for a week or more of study. The site allows for printer-friendly versions of the plans to make printing them a neat option. When you need quick plans for the substitute--or if you are a substitute-- this site is a must-have.

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New Teacher Hotline Podcasts: Mistakes New Taachers Make - Glen Moulton and Mike Kelley

Grades
K to 12
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New teachers, pre-service teacher candidates, student teachers, substitutes, or any teacher seeking problem-solving ideas and proactive strategies to avoid common teaching mistakes...more
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New teachers, pre-service teacher candidates, student teachers, substitutes, or any teacher seeking problem-solving ideas and proactive strategies to avoid common teaching mistakes will enjoy the humor and practicality of these podcasts by an experienced teacher and an experienced teacher/supervisor/administrator. Those who join the site (free) can also submit questions that will be addressed in the twice-monthly podcasts across many new teacher topics. Visit the site to listen on your computer or subscribe to the entire podcast series through iTunes syndication.

tag(s): newbies (14)

In the Classroom

Listen during your drive to school to head off common mistakes or find out how to fix them. Better yet, get together with other newbie teachers for munchies and a beverage as you listen --and maybe talk about common mistakes and your experiences with them. Beat the isolation and frustration of being a new teacher as you relax together with Mike, Glen, and some in-person peers. If you make it a ritual with your friends to listen to this twice-monthly series on a wide range of topics, you may find the collaboration with Glen, Mike, and your buddies really helpful in making teaching the career you had hoped it would be. You choose the location to listen, and the podcasts will help with the rest.

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Substitute Survival: Tools You Can Use - Education World

Grades
K to 12
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This website provides substitutes with practical advice on surviving in a classroom. Most of the tips, websites and lesson ideas are more suitable for elementary or middle school, but...more
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This website provides substitutes with practical advice on surviving in a classroom. Most of the tips, websites and lesson ideas are more suitable for elementary or middle school, but many of the tips are practical in any classroom, any grade and any subject matter. New teachers and those headed into student teaching would be wise to read it, as well.

tag(s): substitutes (27)

In the Classroom

Substitutes - don't go into the trenches empty handed, print out this useful survival guide (or make it a TeachersFirst Favorite so you can find it anytime) and be prepared for the unexpected!

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Brainteasers, Puzzles, and Riddles - NIEHS

Grades
2 to 8
5 Favorites 1  Comments
This site invites visitors to explore and enjoy a wide variety of puzzles and brain teasers. For students who enjoy word, math, and pictorial puzzles, this site is a ...more
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This site invites visitors to explore and enjoy a wide variety of puzzles and brain teasers. For students who enjoy word, math, and pictorial puzzles, this site is a must! Also included are quizzes and proverbs as well as links to other brainteasers.

tag(s): puzzles (143), quiz (67), quizzes (90)

In the Classroom

This site is excellent for enrichment. Include it on your teacher web page for students to access both in and out of class. Give students extra credit for creating their own puzzles to share with the class, especially puzzles on topics you have been studying, such as "rock riddles" or "triangle trivia." This site is also a great safety net for substitutes looking for an educational "filler."

Comments

Climate Change included here: environmental health. Great resource! Patricia, NJ, Grades: 6 - 12

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Teaching Tips - Dr. Kathie Nunley

Grades
K to 12
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Find over a hundred great and practical tips for classroom management, inexpensive materials, handling classroom challenges, and more in this list compiled from teachers all over the...more
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Find over a hundred great and practical tips for classroom management, inexpensive materials, handling classroom challenges, and more in this list compiled from teachers all over the country.If you are a new teacher-- or just looking for a new way to solve an old problem-- this site has treasures.

tag(s): newbies (14)

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Logic and Reasoning Games - Math Playground

Grades
K to 12
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Use this website to "clear out the cobwebs" in your students' minds. The site offers several interactive logic activities. Many require no reading. A few examples include Tetris, Rubik's...more
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Use this website to "clear out the cobwebs" in your students' minds. The site offers several interactive logic activities. Many require no reading. A few examples include Tetris, Rubik's Cube, Sliders, Towers and more.

tag(s): gifted (65), logic (163), problem solving (226), puzzles (143), substitutes (27)

In the Classroom

Use one of these on an interactive whiteboard as a brain warm-up at the beginning of class or as student enter the room. If you have a difficult group in a study hall, this site could keep them busy in a positive way. Substitutes will also love it! Include this link in your class's newsletter, classroom computer, or teacher web page for extra challenges and enrichment. Teachers of gifted can challenge their students to write "how to" directions for how to solve these puzzles, once they have figured them out!

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Substitute Teaching - Tricks of the Trade - Mr. Sturgeon

Grades
K to 12
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While written with a sense of humor, the tips and practical ideas of this site are certain to keep you afloat as a sub (pardon the pun). If you have ...more
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While written with a sense of humor, the tips and practical ideas of this site are certain to keep you afloat as a sub (pardon the pun). If you have never subbed or are about to student teach, this is a must-read! In the rankings of respect, substitutes and student teachers rank closer to the bottom as the grade level goes up, so preparedness is vital to your success. God luck...and keep a sense of humor!

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Mark's Guide to Whose Line is it Anyway

Grades
7 to 12
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This site has an A-Z listing of all the games played on the popular TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? as played in the original show in Great Britain ...more
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This site has an A-Z listing of all the games played on the popular TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? as played in the original show in Great Britain and the American version hosted by Drew Carey. For the simplest games, there is just a description. For the ones that need further explanation, there are links to click on and a sample shows as the game was played with the actual script as it happened.

tag(s): literature (217)

In the Classroom

This can be a great lesson starter, particularly on those dreary days when kids don't want to work. For lower level kids, it is a brain exercise for such things as the alphabet game (which is more difficult than it first seems!). For higher level kids, you can substitute characters from literature with a situation from the story itself or from history with imaginative "what if" dialogue for actual events.

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Dates That Matter - TeachersFirst

Grades
5 to 12
21 Favorites 1  Comments
  
Dates That Matter provides a new perspective on history by placing each day-in-history event in a broader context and explaining its long-term impact. History is a fabric woven of many...more
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Dates That Matter provides a new perspective on history by placing each day-in-history event in a broader context and explaining its long-term impact. History is a fabric woven of many events, and Dates That Matter helps students see the full tapestry. The dates display on a projector-ready screen: A single sentence reveals something about the date. You then click to see a sequence of thought-provoking questions to guide students to a greater understanding of interrelationships as they try to guess the actual event. When the historical event finally shows on screen, a further explanation, Why does it matter?, fills in the remaining context and offers reviewed links to learn more. Teachers who work with low readers might try using these daily clues to teach the reading strategy of connecting what you read with prior knowledge to place new learning in context. A full, annotated version of each date is available from the Teacher page at the end so you can plan for student responses and have hints for guiding the discussion. You can also preview upcoming dates to choose those you may want to put in your weekly plans.

tag(s): calendars (40), substitutes (27)

In the Classroom

Begin your social studies class once or twice a week by sharing a Date That Matters on a projector or interactive whiteboard to foster broader understanding of the connections that form world history. Or use the links at the end as an extra credit or enrichment opportunity or for gifted students to investigate more. Focus class attention as everyone enters by projecting the date and starting sentence. Make this one a link on your teacher web page for students (and parents) to access outside of school. Substitutes will also appreciate this meaningful and engaging way to connect today with students' prior history knowledge for more than an isolated factoid. It's a lesson ready to go!

Comments

This is a terrific site for daily writing and "Do Nows" for my ELA classes. In addition, the site can be used for Morning Meeting/Advisory. Patricia, NJ, Grades: 6 - 12

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Discovering Fossils

Grades
9 to 12
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Geological secrets are revealed in this informative site that presents a wealth of information about the search for and interpretation of fossils. Features include a guide for beginners,...more
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Geological secrets are revealed in this informative site that presents a wealth of information about the search for and interpretation of fossils. Features include a guide for beginners, a collection of fossil myths, a glossary, fossil-themed games and activities, and much more. A nice addition to an earth science unit.

tag(s): fossils (39), geology (64), paleontology (28)

In the Classroom

This site is the perfect addition to any classroom learning about paleontology or archeology. Divide students into cooperative learning groups, and allow them to explore the site on classroom computers. Substitute paper and pen and enhance learning by having students create a digital book of what they learned using a digital such as Bookemon, reviewed here.

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Coloring-Page.net - Coloring-Page.net

Grades
1 to 2
1 Favorites 0  Comments
Choose from hundreds of print-friendly coloring pages for your students. Find an image that relates to a holiday or curriculum topic, or check out the online kids' activities that include...more
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Choose from hundreds of print-friendly coloring pages for your students. Find an image that relates to a holiday or curriculum topic, or check out the online kids' activities that include interactive word searches, memory games, classic word games and so much more! Printable connect-the-dots activities and mazes are also available. These are great "filler" activities your students will love.

tag(s): colors (65), printables (37)

In the Classroom

Bookmark Coloring-Page as a resource for teaching materials throughout the school year. Take advantage of the free printables for use on bulletin boards, classroom management, and centers. Choose materials from the site to use in substitute folders. Be sure to share this site with your fellow teachers! You might consider finding snow day and vacation day activities to post on your class website for parent and student use.

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Visual Calculus

Grades
9 to 12
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This site from the University of Tennessee offers much more than calculus. There are explanations, Shockwave-enhanced tutorials, and downloadable resources for TI graphing calculators...more
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This site from the University of Tennessee offers much more than calculus. There are explanations, Shockwave-enhanced tutorials, and downloadable resources for TI graphing calculators for topics ranging from introductory functions on through advanced calculus. Based on a university professor's teaching notes, the result is a very student-friendly study resource.

tag(s): calculators (37), charts and graphs (169)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save this site for use throughout the year. Use with a substitute or for extra student practice. Share a link to the site on your class website for students to access at home for review and practice of concepts.

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Building Big - PBS

Grades
5 to 8
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Teach basic concepts of physical science by using the structures students see everyday. This companion site to a PBS television series examines bridges, domes, skyscrapers, dams and...more
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Teach basic concepts of physical science by using the structures students see everyday. This companion site to a PBS television series examines bridges, domes, skyscrapers, dams and tunnels, and the physical forces that affect them. After learning about each structure and "visiting" some well-known examples throughout the world, students can participate in a series of interactive online experiments that illustrate the impact that materials, loads, and shapes can have on a structure. Check out the Educators' Guide for suggestions on how to incorporate this site into your curriculum.

tag(s): structures (18)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site with students on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector to show them how to navigate it. Allow pairs or small groups to choose from Bridges, Domes, Skyscrapers, Dams, or Tunnels for further study and exploration. As a substitute for handwritten reports have students create a blog sharing their learning and understanding using Telegra.ph, reviewed here. With Telegra.ph you just click on an icon to upload images from your computer, add a YouTube or Vimeo, or Twitter links. This blog creator requires no registration.

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The Story Starter - Joel Heffner

Grades
7 to 12
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If you are looking to expand your repertoire for daily or occasional writing prompts, check out this site. Just one click on the story starter button provides access to ...more
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If you are looking to expand your repertoire for daily or occasional writing prompts, check out this site. Just one click on the story starter button provides access to millions, (yes, you read that correctly), of random story-starter sentences. The idea generator can be used for journal topics, thematic reflections, practice in written expression, or just for fun!

tag(s): writing (315), writing prompts (57)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and link this site to your class page, or for even quicker access, save this as a favorite on your *Teachersfirst page to come back to The Story Starter whenever you are planning to begin or end a class lesson with a writing prompt. These creative ideas are fantastic and practical when you need a quick emergency lesson plan for a substitute teacher or when you are just looking for a spontaneous writing assignment. Students may use it the old fashion way by writing the story starter sentence on a piece of paper, or copy and paste it into a word document and start writing their stories or essays.
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