Sub Plans for Physics

This is my first year of teaching physics and I can’t think of generic substitute plans for this class. Can you suggest some generic/emergency plans that could help me? 
– E., Michigan

One of the hardest things is to wake up knowing you can’t make it to work and you’re now scrambling to provide something for your substitute. Mary Bigelow recently posted an excellent blog post ( on preparing for substitutes. Since your question is specific to physics, I can add a little to her advice.

  • I advise against generic activities to “just keep students busy.” Concentrate on moving your lessons ahead.
  • The Physics Classroom ( has free downloadable worksheets along with online tutorials and quizzes that can address almost anything you’re teaching in physics (although I find them a little short on magnetism).
  • The National Science Digital Library has a searchable library of lessons, activities, simulations and more.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) has an incredible number of videos on all subjects:
    – Multimedia library:
    – NSF YouTube Channel:
    Science 360 videos:

When showing videos, the students shouldn’t see them as a break from learning, particularly when there is a substitute teacher. You should always have some form of follow up or active component. An online search for graphic organizers to respond to videos will give you lots to choose from. Keep these on file.

Hope this helps.

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2 Responses to Sub Plans for Physics

  1. Beth says:

    When I taught Physics, we had a set of Paul Hewett’s Conceptual Physics videos that came with questions. We used these for sub plans for planned (and unplanned) absences. We also had some physics-related videos (NOVA, Science Channel) for real emergencies, and a large stack of generic video watching worksheets which asked students to respond to a set of prompts: name one key person mentioned and why they were important, write five questions someone who had seen the video could answer, write a short summary of the video, and write a paragraph about how the video related to the current unit of study.

  2. Rebecca Kreidler says:

    Emergency lesson plans are turned in at the beginning of the year. They are for car crashes when teachers have no idea they will not be in.

    To that end, NOVA videos are fantastic and many worksheets to hold kids accountable for the specific video are available on the web. Just don’t leave the key for the sub or all your kids will have mysteriously perfect scores.

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