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February 18, 2020

No More Sick-Day Stress

Swap Your Sub Plans for Digital Student Plans

1. Select your delivery method.

Using your school’s platform for online learning (Schoology, Canvas, Google Classroom, etc.) can make the transition easier. The students already know how to log in, navigate through their classwork and submit assignments, so there’s less of a chance for confusion and off-task behaviors. If you choose to use a separate web tool or app to deliver the lesson, just be sure students are familiar enough to be independent with it. There’s nothing worse than returning the next day to find out NONE of the work you left was completed!

2. Use web tools to deliver content, directions, and other supports.

Since students are already familiar with the content delivery system, all you need to provide is the digital directions and activities to support them. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite go-to tools for the delivery of online lessons and instructional supports.



This screen recording app allows you to not only record a personal message for your students letting them know about the expectations for the day, but it can also record your screen movements to demonstrate specific activity directions. Once you’ve recorded your student plans, you can then take your sick-self back to bed knowing that your students have received clear directions. Bonus — With your expectations clearly laid out you can pick up right where you left off when you return to class the next day!

Watch this Screencastify Sub Plans video to find out how to start.

pear deckPear Deck

With the Pear Deck for Google Slides add-on, you can build a platform for content delivery that includes interactivity. Easily insert multiple choice questions, text, draw, or number response options to engage your students. That means reflection, collaboration, and assessment are built right into your slide deck. Once you’ve built the slides, simply share them with students for a self-paced online lesson.

Watch these videos to learn the Pear Deck basics and toggle to self-paced mode.


This platform allows teachers to take any online video and turn it into an interactive, go-at-your-own-pace lesson. Select a video or create your own, then integrate questions as the video plays. When the video pauses, students must respond to your prompts in order to move on. The interactivity keeps your class engaged and provides you with helpful feedback.

Get started creating interactive video lessons with this Edpuzzle tutorial.

insert learningInsert Learning

Make any webpage or online article interactive with the Insert Learning extension for Chrome. This simple tool allows teachers to insert annotations, notes, videos, and discussion questions right on the webpage. It’s a great way to scaffold learning for all levels while you are away and ensure that all students have the supports they need to complete their work.

Watch this video walkthrough to find out how to Insert Learning into your lessons.


The ultimate platform for the distribution of student plans is via a Hyperdoc. Turn a Slide deck, Doc or Site into a “playlist” of activities for students to follow. Start with a blank page, add instructions, hyperlinks to videos, articles, digital activities, or other web tools (like Insert Learning or Edpuzzle), and let students go! They’ll work through the activities you’ve designed at their own pace and with the supports you’ve embedded.

Check out these Hyperdoc examples and this explainer video.

 Pro Tip — With all of this great tech power, comes the inevitable tech fail! Be proactive and assign 2-3 students to take on the designated “tech support” role for the day. Other students, and even the substitute, can rely on them for trouble-shooting help if (or rather WHEN) something doesn’t work. 

3. Include at least one assignment to be submitted.

As you know, students can often get off track when the teacher is away. That’s why it’s important to embed at least one graded assignment in your student plans for the class period. This could be an assignment, a personal reflection on the learning that took place, or even a shout-out to a classmate who was working hard. No matter the format, just be sure your expectations are clear. This required component will help to keep students on track and provide some accountability

 for learning. 

Pro Tip — To ensure smooth sailing on the day you’re out sick, plan to practice this self-paced “student plan” structure a couple of times. As with any new routine, you’ll need to set up clear expectations, practice the sequence of activities, and stop to reteach if students fall short. This proactive approach will help to lay the groundwork for success when you’re away! 

4. Gather feedback from students.

Empower your students by gathering their thoughts on the student plans you created. What worked? What didn’t work? What suggestions can they offer to improve the process for next time? When you involve the students in developing a structure that works, they’ll be much more inclined to follow it. 

Never go to school sick again just because it’s too much trouble to write sub plans. Use technology to quickly create an easy-to-follow student plan so you can stay home and get the rest you need! 


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