Substitute plans that work all year

Perry Fiorentino is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with experience as a middle school teacher and department chair.

If the recent school years have taught us anything, it’s that it’s always best to have a back-up plan! 

Here are some great options for last-minute substitute plans that work for any time of year. Plus, we’ve rounded up some tips and strategies to share with your sub and for you to use once you’re back in the classroom.

Sub plan #1: Working in the diagnostic

First 10-20 minutes: 

Have students work in IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic Arena to update their Diagnostic levels in math and/or ELA.

  • Once students are signed in to IXL, they can click on their “Diagnostic” tab, and then “Step into the Diagnostic Arena.”
  • For more information and resources on IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic, check out IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic Hub.

Next 20-40 minutes: 

Each student should choose an IXL skill from their own Recommendations wall or Diagnostic Action Plan. Students can find their Recommendations wall by clicking on “Learning.” Students can find their Diagnostic Action Plan by clicking on “Diagnostic” and scrolling down to the bottom of the page. They can click “Print Diagnostic Action Plan” to see a list of recommended IXL skills by strand.

When students reach proficiency (a SmartScore of 80) on the skill they have selected, they can either choose to keep going to get to mastery (a SmartScore of 100) or they can choose another skill from their Recommendations wall.


Sub plan #2: Assigning skill plans

If you have some time to plan ahead before leaving your sub plans, you can use IXL Skill Plans to find a few skills for your students to work on while you are away from the classroom. 

Explore the skill plan that matches your state standards or your textbook to find a skill that your students are ready to practice independently. Or check out IXL’s Weekly Boost skill plans, which cover a year’s worth of curriculum for each grade level in a week-by-week plan.

Once you’ve chosen a skill, click the star to the left to assign it to individual students and classes. This way, students will see their suggested skill on their Recommendations wall as soon as they sign in to IXL.

Have students aim for proficiency (a SmartScore of 80) on the skills you’ve assigned. If they reach that goal, they can choose to either continue working to reach mastery (a SmartScore of 100) or they can choose a skill from their Recommendations wall.


Classroom management strategies to share

Track progress with Live Classroom

Your substitute teacher can use IXL’s Live Classroom to monitor students as they are working in real time. Give your substitute the following steps to use Live Classroom:

  • Sign in to IXL using my teacher credentials.
  • On the Analytics tab, select “Live
  • This will show all students who are signed in to IXL so you can see everyone working at once.
    • If a student’s tile turns gray, they are idle and not actively practicing. Make sure that student stays focused and on task.
    • If a student’s tile turns red, they have answered several questions wrong. If you are able to, you can reach out to that individual to see if they need 1-on-1 support.

Increase student motivation with an IXL Leaderboard

Setting up an IXL Leaderboard will motivate students to be super focused while you’re gone!  For steps on how to start a Leaderboard, check out this video: “Start a competition with IXL Leaderboards” or read the full guide in our Help Center.


Review student work upon return

If you would like an easy way to see what students accomplished while you were out of the classroom, head to your Students Quickview report in IXL Analytics. At the top of the screen, adjust the date range to the time you were gone. This report will show you exactly what each of your students worked on while you were out of the classroom.