Expert Educator Columns, Featured
Leave a comment

Tammy Dunbar: Never Have a Subpar Class with Digital Sub Plans!


by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekIt’s three in the morning, your nose is ridiculously stuffed, your throat is sore from all that coughing and you are convinced you are coming down with the next big flu. You definitely aren’t feeling well, but even so, you are struggling with the same decision most every teacher dreads: should I put in for a sub?

Unless you are unable to crawl, you ultimately decide against it because being at work sick is much easier than making sub plans.

Or is it?

With a connected classroom, Microsoft Office and proper training, sub plans from home are now relatively simple to create and share.

One method is to create a PowerPoint that walks the sub and the class through their assignments screen-by-screen. My class is very used to starting lessons with a short PPT presentation to get them into the topic and then lead them to the actual assignment. Since we have done many of these together in class, the next logical step was to create a PowerPoint that would guide a substitute teacher through the lessons structured in the same way my students already knew how to negotiate. The Language Arts lesson I created recently for a sub displayed the spelling words which I wanted my students to type and email to me, directed students to my website where I had created a link to a specific vocabulary game on Houghton-Mifflin’s EduPlace and then asked students to explore some word games before fantastic-friday - Copyrecess. The presentation even included lecture notes for reducing fractions that the sub could use for his whole class instruction before students went on to individual practice on McGraw-Hill’s ConnectED.

Once created, it’s a simple matter to either email the PPT presentation to the school secretary, a co-worker or directly to the substitute. If you have a connected sub, you could even publish it to a OneNote and share it.

Another way to create digital sub plans is to post your lessons to your OneNote Class Notebook. This amazing tool basically allows you to create a digital binder for your class with separate places to collaborate (anyone can add or subtract content) and look at content (that only the teacher can post) as well as an individual space for each student to work that only they and their teacher can see and manipulate. If you’ve been using this tool in your classroom, and your students are used to how it works, it’s easy to share your lesson plans on those days you have a sub. Just post all the necessary worksheets, assignments and links to videos and websites to the content tab for each student to copy-and-paste into their individual tab before getting to work.

Being able to create lesson plans from home and easily put them up on the cloud for students to access means your students will be able to continue learning the curriculum (instead of watching a video) while you stay at home and take care of yourself until you’re not contagious.


techinjectionmessage-from - Copy

If you’re going to have a sub for the day, you might also consider recording a video or audio message for your students. Hearing from you what’s expected of them in your absence carries a lot more weight. If you’re using PowerPoint, just use Office Mix to record your message. If you’re using OneNote, simply click on the Insert tab and then click on Record Video. Your students won’t see the video until they click on it, but you can always insert a screen snap so they can see your face and know you have a message for them.


tammy2Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., S.T.E.M. teaches 5th grade in Manteca Unified School District and Pre-Service Technology at Teachers College of San Joaquin (Stockton, CA). She will be presenting at ISTE 2015, CUE 2015 and CTA Good Teaching North 2015. Tammy has presented for CTA Good Teaching North (2014), Cap CUE (2014), all three California Subject Matters Project Conferences, Capitol Area Science Education Leaders, and several San Joaquin County Office of Education events as well as others. She won the 2010 eInstruction $75,000 Classroom Makeover Video Contest, wrote a successful Enhancing Education Through Technology grant for Manteca Unified School District in 2008, and was Teacher of the Year in MUSD in 2006. She is on the MUSD Superintendent’s Technology Committee as the district embarks on their “Going Digital 2015” project.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>