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Blog / Easy Biology Sub Plans – Secondary Science
A banner image of a smiling teacher on the left side. On the right side, there is writing that reads, “Easy Biology Sub Plans for Secondary Science.”

Easy Biology Sub Plans – Secondary Science

Picture this. 

It’s 5am. You wake up feeling awful. 

After you stumble around to find the thermometer, you take your temperature and it flashes red with the number 102 on the screen.

You need to take a sick day, even though it’s the last thing you want to do.

We have all been there. 

What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be that hard to create and assign sub plans? 

No.. I’m being serious. It doesn’t have to be. 

There should never be a time when we, as teachers, sacrifice our health because it’s “easier” to just go to school. That doesn’t benefit you or the students. 

In order to help you, I have compiled a list of my top activities for biology sub plans, as well as some helpful tips. 

Let’s explore these ideas, shall we?

Image of a woman covered in a blanket blowing her nose. She visibly doesn't feel well.

Biology Sub Plans #1 – Assign Videos to Watch

One of the easiest things to do is assign a video to watch while you are gone. 

I bet you’re trying to remember what DVDs you have in your classroom and trying to remember how to work the DVD dinosaur machine. 

But that’s not what I’m talking about. 

Our technology is way beyond DVDs. There are so many quality videos available for free on the Internet that don’t require any brain power for a substitute. 

You can even assign students the video to watch on their personal devices. 

That’s what I do. 

Not only do I make it easier on the substitute, but I also make it easier on me. 

One of my favorite platforms to assign videos on is EdPuzzle. The best part? EdPuzzle is free and links to various Learning Management Systems. 

If I’m going to be out, I will link a YouTube video about what we are learning. You can then create your own embedded questions into the video or use a version with questions already made. 

Once the questions are set, all you have to do is assign the video.

Pssst – did you know, I actually have my own YouTube channel that has loads of illustrated videos to teach students about concepts in Biology!

Image with a stamp that reads ASSIGNMENT. There are papers and other stamps in the background.

Why is EdPuzzle so great for substitutes? 

Well, it’s because students can watch and answer the video on their own device and they are not allowed to skip the video. Yep, you read that right. 

When students are assigned a video on EdPuzzle, they must watch and pay attention to the whole video. Students can also rewatch any part of the video to help with their understanding of the topic. 

As students are watching, EdPuzzle tracks the amount of times they watched the video, as well as their performance on the embedded questions. 

So, not only do you have an easy lesson plan, but you’ve also just secured some fantastic data for yourself, parents, and administration!

Biology Sub Plans #2 – Color in Existing Doodle Notes

An image of two pages of Doodle Notes for the Carbon Cycle. These are in black and white. There is text above them that says “Color in their Doodle Notes” with an arrow and a graphic of colored pencils.

I frequently use Doodle Notes in my classroom. Students love them, and so do teachers! 

And while you can most definitely assign Doodle Notes as an easy substitute activity, I want to give you an out-of-the-box idea. 

You can always allow students time to color in their existing Doodle Notes!

We all know class time is limited. If there isn’t enough time, students may not be able to fully color their Doodle Notes. When you have a substitute, this would be an easy and no prep activity to include. 

Not only will it allow students the time to finish their Doodle Notes, they will also be reviewing their learning. Without realizing it, they are rereading and getting more familiar with the material.

Again, you can also assign a set of Doodle Notes as a review if you need an additional activity.
At the beginning of the next class, you can go over the Doodle Notes with the students. Simply present the answer key slides that I provide with all of my Doodle Notes.

An image of a computer with the answers for a Photosynthesis Doodle Notes page.

Biology Sub Plans #3 – Assign Google Slides Activities

An additional no prep activity that can be assigned as substitute work includes Google Slides activities. 

Aside from being easy to assign, your students will also be engaged during class time, which every substitute is always thankful for. 

Not only will your students be grateful, but your partner teacher will, as well. Since you are assigning a digital assignment, they don’t have to copy it for you in the morning. 

It’s a win-win all around! 

Aside from just being absent, I know I always worry about my special education students and their accommodations while I am out. 

When you assign Google Slides activities for substitute work, you can differentiate without being in the physical classroom. 

All you have to do is create a copy of the assignment and then delete the slides you don’t want certain students to do. When you are ready, assign the differentiated versions to specific students in your Learning Management System. 

I have created over 50 sets of Google Slides activities that are ready to go. You can find them right here in my website shop.

An image of a laptop showing a Google Slides page of the Mutations Google Slides activities.
An example of an interactive task from my Mutations Google Slides activities.

Biology Sub Plans #4 – Assign Virtual Labs

We’re still aboard the easy substitute plan train. Choo choo! 

Another great tool to use when you need to plan for a substitute is virtual labs. Again, these are no prep and you can even assign the write-ups digitally. 

Your teaching bestie will thank you later. 

There are so many platforms and virtual labs, including free ones. 

I would first look at the associated website for your specific textbook. I know that mine includes labs integrated into the system. These can usually be assigned directly to the student. 

If that is not an option or you don’t like the virtual labs available, one of my favorite free virtual lab websites includes the Phet website. 

Phet Labs are categorized by science subjects, which makes navigation a breeze. 

Once you find the lab you want to assign, all you have to do is post the link for students to access. 

You can either create your own lab write-up or sign up as a teacher and use one of the premade ones. I like to assign these via Google Docs so everything stays digital and there isn’t any paper clutter or confusion. 

If I need to plan for a substitute, I will try to choose a virtual lab that is similar to one we will be doing in class. The Phet lab then serves as a pre-lab. 

Once I get back to school, I can use the virtual lab as a formative assessment to address misconceptions before we complete the in-person lab.

An image of 2 beakers and 2 Erlenmeyer flasks sitting on a flat surface.

General Tips for a Substitute

I hope you found the above ideas useful for making easy substitute plans. 

I would also like to give some general tips for having a substitute teacher. By following these tips, I don’t feel as overwhelmed when planning for a substitute and can take the time off when I need it. 

  1. Don’t assign something that requires a lot of grading

    If you notice, all of my substitute plans require very little grading. It is hard enough to take a sick day, but even more difficult when you return and have a stack of papers to catch up on. Pick activities that provide automatic grading or a very quick glance. 
  1. Select and note student leaders

    We all have rockstar students in every class. On my rosters, I will place a star next to the top 2-3 students that are the leaders, most loyal, and most trustworthy. I will then mention that these students are the ones that can help the substitute throughout the day. 
  1. Create a feedback form

    I don’t know about you, but I get so frustrated when substitutes don’t leave enough feedback or the feedback I am looking for. In order to get the information I want, I have created a substitute feedback form and left them in a folder on my desk. In my substitute plans, I ask the substitute to please fill out one of the forms. 

Share general substitute plans with a co-teacher

Emergencies happen – plain and simple. You never know when you may get sick on the way to work or get into an accident. For these rare occurrences, I have shared three general substitute plans with my partner teacher. By doing so, if an unexpected emergency happens, I can just tell her to use the first general substitute plan.

An image of a teacher’s desk with an apple, a book, and a cup of pencils.

Sub plans can be easy

The unexpected will happen and it is important to be prepared. 

You will wake up sick. You will have that flat tire. There are so many scenarios that I can’t name them all. 

No matter the scenario, you will need to have a substitute plan. It’s just the name of the game being a teacher!

I hope you have found my substitute ideas helpful and will try one or more out on your next substitute day. 

Bookmark this blog post for later when you need to have a substitute plan!

Make sure to also share this list with your teacher bestie, so they are prepped too.

I hope you have a wonderful day,

Emma The Teachie
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