Proctoring for state testing, sick days,  PD sessions, peer observations. A day out of the classroom does NOT mean no work for the teacher. I feel like I do more work to prepare for a sub day, than I do for a regular day! Know the feeling? Here are some tips and a lesson plan idea on how to let the learning continue, even without a teacher.

First let’s look at some typical sub day problems. Any of these sound familiar to you?

– Sub doesn’t know target language/content

– No technology without teacher

– Students don’t take sub work seriously

I did a little subbing when I moved to Colorado, and I got a whole new look at sub plans. The most successful ones had the following:

– Directions written on student copies

– Extension of a previous lesson

– Required that they turn something in by the end of class

– They learned/created something new

– Had a partner/group option (Once I saw where they were required to peer-review each other’s work. It was evident that they had done that in class before too.)

Since we are talking about “Family” unit plan ideas, Megan and I want to share a sub plan to extend Megan’s “Game” lesson. If they did not have the previous game lesson, they can be prepped for this activity by reading articles about “Lotería” from Wikipedia and other sites. Additionally, this can work as a station activity, homework or turned into a larger project.

The directions asked the students to create their own version of the Lotería game using images, characters and symbols that represent their culture (community, school, city, or anything else they are interested in). There is an image of the original game so they can refer to it. The first page included some questions to help them brainstorm their idea.


Lotería board made about Louisville’s Derby


Here are some examples:

Louisville, Kentucky: Derby hat, bourbon bottle, blue grass, Twin Spires, Louisville Slugger, horse, 4th Street

PRP (school): Panther, baseball champs, other sports, the Principal, tardy hall, the big gym, Pizza, class ring (big deal for Juniors), Paw Print (yearbook), Archery club, Big Gulp


Then time for them to create! They have a blank “board” to draw their ideas. There is something therapeutic about coloring and creating, even for high school students (and me!). I like to leave them colored pencils and markers for this.

loteria bandera


I like this plan because it can work for all proficiency levels (a huge bonus when leaving sub plans for multiple classes). For a second day plan, there is a writing prompt based on their proficiency level; describing for the Novices and creating “lotería riddles” for the Intermediates.




For a limited time, here’s the download: