If you haven't guessed yet, I simply love Scholastic. They have tons of great resources, some of which are their classroom magazines. One magazine is called Storyworks, and Scholastic's site has reproducible worksheets for teachers to use with the magazine's features, but these particular sheets can be used for almost anything. They are especially useful for Lifesaver lessons if you do not have real lesson plans.
Why This Works:
It's fairly simple for students to do. The sheets have basic analysis for any piece of fiction or nonfiction. Questions about character, theme, plot elements, main idea, and other things are good review for students. It's all presented pretty simply (Storyworks is designed for elementary students), but it's versatile for several grade levels. Whether it's a picture book read to 3rd graders, or a novel for middle-schoolers, story elements and important facts are essentially the same.
If you discover that you don't have lesson plans, one thing substitute teachers often do is make students read silently. As I've previously discussed why indefinite, "kill some time while I figure this out" reading has its faults, reading with purpose can be a lot more beneficial to students and subs.
This Lifesaver is not simply busy work, since it does go through lengths to have students explore reading comprehension. It takes up a good amount of time, even if students are reading a short text. It's also versatile. You can grab a literature textbook or classroom magazine, select a story or article, and have students work on this. You could also just let them read their independent reading texts, whatever stories they may be reading themselves or what may be in the classroom library, and let them analyze their particular reading. It's so flexible that it pretty much fit almost anything they could be reading. It doesn't have specific questions for specific texts; it's broad enough for several different grade levels and classrooms.
A Few Things to Consider:
The only thing you have to think about is how you're going to keep this with you. There are only a few options. One is to print 20 or 30 of these and keep them with you at all times. Of course, if you do that, you should probably only have one set and just tell students to write on their own paper so that you don't have to keep printing it again (even though, inevitably, someone will write on your copy).
You could just keep one copy of the worksheet and, if the need ever calls for it, you could write down the basic outline on the board or overhead and just tell students to follow what you've written on their own paper. If you're lucky, you may have a document camera (which are the coolest!) to save you some effort.
Depending on the grade and ability levels, you may want to explain, omit or even lengthen some parts of the worksheets.
I hope this helps!
Again, regular teachers, this may be useful enough for you to use in your real lessons!
Check out Storyworks if you get a chance!
credit to: Scholastic Storyworks