With all of those details taken care of, we now get down to the true nitty-gritty...the actual lesson plan. Before detailing the lesson activities, I clearly state at the top of the lesson plan page that the sub will be traveling to the classrooms for each class period. I then list any materials they'll need to bring with them for the lessons. Even though my subs have a copy of the schedule, I still outline all key info (class period time, teacher, grade, and room number) on the lesson plan. It’s here that I’ll also detail any bus or lunch duties if it applies for the selected day.
And the big question: Do I have my substitutes push my music cart from class to class?
My personal answer is…...no. Now, I do know music teachers on a cart who do indeed leave lesson plans that require their subs to push their carts, but I instead choose to utilize lesson plans that don’t require lots of materials.
I approach my substitute lesson activity planning from the standpoint that my subs won’t have access to interactive whiteboards or other technology. Music takes place during the teacher’s prep time and if those teachers take their laptops with them for lesson planning, that leaves no access to the whiteboards. I don’t leave any of my technology (mp3 players, tablet, laptop) at school because they are my personal equipment that I’ve paid for out-of-pocket. I also plan from the standpoint of my subs not having any music knowledge whatsoever, so I look for enriching lesson activities that are as straightforward and easy to execute as possible. One of those top go-to lessons I like to use are:
I incorporate some aspect of focused music listening quite often (usually monthly) throughout the year for all grade levels that I teach. When it comes to substitute lesson plans, listening lessons are a great way to encourage independent work, spark group discussion, and fill the entire span of a (in my case, 45-minute) class period. The materials needed are minimal (simply a CD and paper), so the sub can utilize the carrying bag I leave for them and easily bring those materials from class to class. Students use the pencils and crayons already in their classrooms and each classroom teacher has their own CD player, eliminating additional items that would otherwise need to be brought!
For my lower elementary students, I leave blank, legal-sized paper (8.5 x 14 inch) that they can fold either in half to make 2 boxes on the front and 2 on the back to draw in, or fold twice to make 4 boxes on both sides. Using one box per music selection, students draw what they think the music is about, what instruments they think they hear, and/or what they think the instruments are trying to sound like. In the lesson plan, I give the parameters that students must listen to the first minute of music without talking or drawing/coloring. Then they're given X amount of minutes to draw their idea before the substitute selects several students to share their picture and explain to the class. The final step is the substitute revealing the composer and official title of the music. "Lather, rinse, repeat" for each box on their paper until all students have had a chance to share or the music period comes to an end.
My upper elementary listening lessons follow the same steps of listening, writing, drawing, and sharing, but they use a more structured worksheet with questions that encourage them to use the elements of music as their guide to write and describe what they hear (tempo, timbre, dynamics, etc.). An online search for "music listening logs," "music listening worksheets," or "SQUILT" (Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time, an acronym coined many years ago by the Music K-8 Magazine resource) will bring up examples for you to see what such a worksheet might look like.
Aside from listening lessons, there are 3 other categories of activities that I like to leave as music sub lesson plans. Check out the Cart Closet for a 2-part video series in which I share those resources AND while you're in there, grab a FREE sample listening lesson plan that you can use for *your* elementary music classes!