Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Screencast Your Sub Plans

I don't need to tell any of you how big of a pain it is to be gone from class for a day (or more) and all the reasons why it's such a pain...but there's one thing you can do that will ease some of that pain and streamline the process of being gone for the day. The process is pretty straightforward - Screencast you your sub plans for the day.

If you're like me your sub plans fall into one of two categories - those that are done half way with some filler activity because it's quicker and easier for you to prepare, or those that you spend copious amounts of time writing out in excruciating detail so that any sub can follow what you expect them to teach. Option one isn't great because of a loss of valuable learning time, and option two isn't great because of the time factor. I present option three - which is really option two, except you record yourself to be viewed by your students, rather than write it out for your sub to deliver.

There are a variety of tools out there that you can use to record a screencast, but my go-to is Screencast-O-Matic as it is free and it runs right in your web browser. I've learned that on a Mac you do need to update Java and use Safari or Firefox - on the Windows side, any browser will do. Also, if you want to add a personal touch you can enable your webcam and have your face visible to your students (Note: The webcam might not be desirable when recording sub plans at 3AM after yakking up your dinner). There are other, paid options, that you can check out...but so far, Screencast-O-Matic has done all that i need it to.

Toss together a couple of quick slides that include whatever you want - specific directions, learning targets/objectives, question prompts, etc...and start recording! The first time through some security popups about Java might arrise, clicking "allow" will get you on your way. I still leave a formal note or two to my sub, but it's basically just telling them to watch the video, and show it to my classes, and maybe a couple other directions and pieces of helpful info. Much, much less than I used to write.

After you've finished you can publish directly to YouTube or you can export it as a video file. With a "Pro" account ($15/year) you also have editing options, the ability to draw/zoom on your screencast, and more upload options (Drive, Dropbox, etc...). However, you can easily accomplish what you want with the free account. Then, just email/leave the sub a link or directions how to  access your video and you're good to go!

Below is an example sub plan I used earlier this year. Because of the style of the lesson for that day the middle part (0:50-7:35) is part lecture, part question and discussion where the sub would pause the video to facilitate a discussion. Feel free to watch the intro for the Calvin and Hobbes reference, and then skip ahead to 7:35...or watch the whole thing...or none of it.


  1. Is the Picture in Picture part of the "Pro" account feature, or is it on the free one and I'm too thick to twig to this sooner?

  2. I just tried without creating an account (so, free...) and after you click the Start Recording button on www.screencast-o-matic.com the recoding area/box that pops up has the option. You do need a webcam. The little webcam looking thing on the right, next to the X, is what you want. I can upload a picture if you can't find it.