Great Sub Plan Ideas


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From the Paragraph Name: _________________

to the Web from which it was born... Date: __________________

It's time to work backwards: The following paragraph was written from a web. Read the paragraph and look for its structure. Then, draw and label the web from which it was made.

Skydiving is a really cool sport. There are many different areas, however, you have to know about before you try it. First, the cost is very high. It might run you $200.00 for your first time. You have to pay for your ground training, your instructor, the gas for the plane and rental of the equipment itself. The equipment includes your chute, the flight suit, your spare chute, and the fee for packing your chute. Second, you need to pay attention to your ground training. It will save your life. Most training sessions are eight hours long. You learn to land under different conditions, and you learn how to roll so that you don't smash your knees or spine when you land. You also learn how to control your parachute and maneuver into the wind so you don't crash. How to handle emergencies while in the air is also a part of your training. One emergency is when you have a "streamer," in which your chute comes out but never inflates with air. Another one is when the parachute never opens. You can also crash into another skydiver. After all the training, however, you usually get to make your first jump the same day. The first one is thrilling! You sit on the edge of the airplane's doorway 3,500 feet above the ground. The air rushes along side of the metal skin of the plane. When your jumpmaster says, "Go," you leap into the wide emptiness and pray your parachute will open. When it does, and you realize you're safe, sometimes you begin to laugh because of sheer joy. The farmer's fields below look like a checkerboard and you're the King. Everything is silent and you feel terrific. Finally, you land (hopefully not on the back of cow) and go back to the airstrip, ready for another leap. Though it is expensive and requires a lot of training, the excitement of skydiving is worth it.


Your Web of the Paragraph: [Use the back or another sheet, if necessary.]

Determining Authenticity of

an Historical Fiction Novel

First Experience


In a 300 to 500-word essay, determine the authenticity of an historical fiction book with regard to one of the following areas:

A. Setting B. Character Actions/Conflicts C. Language

In doing your determination of authenticity in the category of your choice, identify three examples from the book that you can find evidence for being realistic to the time period. For instance, if soldiers describe fighting in trenches, find diary entries of trench soldiers or experts which prove that the real fighting in trenches was just as it was described in the book. Show how those descriptions compare to the novel that you’re trying to prove authentic.

In the structure of your analysis, make an opening statement about the book’s authenticity regarding the area you chose (setting, character action, or language), then proceed with your examples and evidence. Finish with a well-crafted conclusion. Make this the best writing you’ve ever done. Focus on:

  • Intelligent and clear organization

  • Good word choices

  • Varied sentence structures

  • No extraneous thoughts

  • Enough material to support your points

  • Accurate information

  • Intelligent use of conventions (punctuation, transitions, grammar, spelling)

  • An effective writer’s voice

You must include a bibliography of all sources you use. Review the list of possible authenticity sources we made in class. Just to clarify: The 300 to 500-word limit refers to your writing and analysis, NOT the text samples you use.

Due Date: ________________________________

Crash Island Projection

Divide students up into groups of 4 to 6 members. Provide them with a large sheet of white or manilla paper, and make sure they have plenty of pencils, markers, and/or crayons.
Explain that a jet airliner has just crashed on a deserted island. There are only 20 survivors. The island is robust with natural resources, but it is too remote for any communication with the civilized world. The survivors are on their own, using only the natural resources and what’s left of the plane wreckage.
Here’s the task: The group is to draw what the island will look like 100 years after the crash. Assuming no visits from others and the survivors and their descendants have been there without any other aid the entire time, what will the survivors have created in the way of culture and civilization? There is no taking the easy way out with this by simply claiming that they died or they found a vast treasure trove of food and water in a cave.

Other considerations: You can ask the student groups to first describe the 20 people and require that the civilization reflect those people and their strengths/attributes. You can also require that some of the survivors be people from the period of history you are studying. The subsequent culture/civilization must reflect the interests and attributes of those famous people. For example, what would a civilization look like if it was heavily influenced by Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, Ghandi, or Leonardo da Vinci? In another twist, you can require that some of the survivors are characters from a novel you have been reading with the students. What role will they play and what will their culture/civilization look like?

Practice Narrowing the Topic

Ask students to practice developing great focus or research questions from a given general topic. See the next page for an example of this. What’s written in the caption cloud is what students are to be thinking. They don’t record that however. Once students have the idea, give them six or seven general topics for which they narrow the focus to a one or two-page paper. Suggested topics include: the universe, sports, the oceans, music, school, themselves, our culture, movies, books, the solar system, language.

The Civil War

Narrowing the Topic





Is the topic too general for a one or two-page focus paper? If so, choose one of the sub-topics and break

it down further. If it’s narrow enough,

pose your question.

Battles of the Civil War


Bull Run



Is the topic too general for a one or two-page focus paper? If so, choose one of the sub-topics and break

it down further. If it’s narrow enough,

pose your question.

The Battle of Gettysburg





Research Question:

What was the “Fishhook” strategy used

in the Battle of Gettysburg?

Some of the best Quickwrites are based on specific skills within a larger topic: Great opening lines, a piece of evidence, or one claim in a thematic essay; samples of well crafted and not-so-well-crafted hypotheses in the scientific method; patterns in verb conjugations; opportunities to state multiple rises-over-runs before determining slope of a line; finding latitudes of multiples locations around the Earth before adding longitudes. Sure we can add flavor to some of these [“Give me a great opening line to this thematic essay if Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie) were writing it.”], but they always come back to meaty content and skills.

Remember to look at Quickwrite ideas in other subjects, too. Many of them are adaptable to more than one subject. For example, we can write an ode to the Euro, but we can also write an ode to graphing inequalities and to the almighty verb.

Additional Quickwrites:

  • If someone were stuck finding the lowest common multiple between two numbers, what two pieces of advice would you give him?

  • Draw a quick mindmap or flow chart of the steps needed to reduce a fraction to lowest terms.

  • Identify two situations in which it is better to turn fractions into decimals before adding them.

  • What’s a quick way to tell whether or not 88,050 is divisible by 6, and is it?

  • Give evidence to support or refute “capitalist” as an appropriate description of the main character.

  • Create two great test questions on this topic we could use for tomorrow’s test.

  • Categorize the 26 elements in three ways with no one category consisting of less than three elements.

  • Rewrite these four measures to express a different dynamic.

  • Explain to someone two grade levels below you why integers are also rational.

  • With a partner, identify three arguments against what I just taught you.

  • Ask students to respond to concepts posted on newsprint posters around the room. They write their reactions on the posters themselves.

  • Collect feedback from students about a recent test, unit, lesson, or experience.

  • In the lull after a test, ask students to identify content/skills that weren’t on the test, or ask students to come up with a great additional question for the test and to call on someone to answer it.
  • Ask students to come up with alternative titles to a book or event, or, “If [insert a real person under study] were to write a book, what would its title be?

  • Ask students who they would cast in the role of ________ in this book and why?

  • Use a new term in two situations, one correct and one incorrect. Students discern which is which.

  • Ask students to generate as many words as they can think of that mean the opposite of ________.

  • Give students an answer for which they have to generate a dozen or more sincere questions.

  • Ask them to rewrite one verse of a popular song to express content being studied.

  • Give students five vocabulary terms but make sure one of them doesn’t fit the category or theme of the terms, and ask students to identify which word doesn’t belong and a reason why it doesn’t belong.

  • Ask students to identify one word that best describes something under study and to defend that word as a good word to describe it. Ask others to argue against the word as a good word to describe the topic.

This is where you ask students to record a statement for or against something, then they must spend individual time listed all the positives, the minuses, and the things that are neither positive or interesting – they’re just interesting to consider. Once they’ve done this, they share with a neighbor, then with the whole class. For the first one, do something interesting, such as, “All vehicles on the whole planet should be painted yellow,” or “All students should be paid $50 per week to go to school.” These are from Edward de Bono, who invented the approach. Once they done this with these other statements, ask students to analyze statements involving whatever you’re studying in class this week. It’s amazing how many students change their opinions once they analyze the statements in this manner.

Edward de Bono’s P-M-I Activity







I [Interesting]

This is short, easy to use template for summarizing fiction (there’s also one for non-fiction below). Ask students to practice filling in the blanks in this template using short stories, cartoons, movies, and television shows, then to do whole books or novels.
For Fiction:
Somebody (characters)…
wanted (plot-motivation)…,
but (conflict)…,
so (resolution)… .

For Non-Fiction:

Something (independent variable)…
happened (change in that independent variable)…,
and (effect on the dependent variable)…,
then (conclusion)… .

Summary Pyramid:








Great prompts for each line: Synonym, analogy, question, three attributes, alternative title, causes, effects, reasons, arguments, ingredients, opinion, larger category, formula/sequence, insight, tools, misinterpretation, sample, people, future of the topic

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