My school gives each department a monthly pull-out period for collaboration. One period.
I dig the collaboration, but calling in a sub for just one period throws off my game in a way that no one else in my department seems to mind.
Everyone else takes the loss in stride and adjusts pace to account for the lost period. Me, I tense up and pray for some freak snow flurry to close school and balance out my other periods. It’s awful. Plus I plan sub periods as strenuously as I do regular periods and wind up with with 50% more prep work the night before my department’s planning sessions.
But I think I got it right this time.
I exported the period’s Keynote slides to PNGs and recorded a voiceover track in GarageBand using my iBook’s built-in mic. Neither of those tasks required more than three clicks.
Then I pulled ’em both into Final Cut Pro …
… and lengthened each PNG to match my voice. (iMovie will do the same thing, as I recall, but I haven’t played with the newest version.) Then I burned a DVD.
Time cost: considerable. Somewhere around ninety minutes, though forty of those could be chalked under the Bumblin’ Around column, playing with formats, etc, time I’ll save next timeKeynote 4, which is to PowerPoint what an M16 is to a musket, has an “Export to iDVD” feature which is a few versions away from automating all the annoying parts of this process. At the moment the audio slips away from the video, but once Apple tightens the right belts, I won’t really have words to express my pity for PPT users. ¶ (I mean, seriously … once they get that working, I’ll strap on a wireless mic and record every lesson in real-time, exporting each day’s lesson to iPod-ready MP4 video. Why, you ask? Why not?!).
Moreover, I didn’t lose nearly as much ground as I would’ve with my usual lame sub-day regiment of handouts, book review, and a few Hail Mary’s for my sub.
Moreover, at a distance, I could …
- … introduce the sub. (“Listen to Katie,” I said, just guessing at the name and gender of my sub.)
- … set expectations. (“Hey, kids, it’s Mr. Meyer. You know I hate to miss fifth period but it couldn’t be helped. Assignments are worth triple today so don’t blow this.”)
- … banter a bit. (“So who can tell me which conjecture cracks this thing wide open for us? [long pause] Nobody knows this one?!”)
- … and freaking teach.
That last feat demanded I lighten up on my usual conviction that text rarely mixes well with PowerPoint. Ordinarily, I throw a diagram or a graph on the board and spin a conversation around it. The slides had to stand alone here, though, so I crowded ’em up more than I would’ve liked.
My sub’s only official capacity was that of Pause-Button Pusher. At various times I’d instruct “Katie” to pause the DVD so the class could work through a problem. I told the kids they could ask her to pause at any point also.
I caught the last five minutes. No one freaked out over the experiment, like, “yeah, Mr. Meyer, that was way more fun than a movie … thanks!” but the sub was keen, the kids were into the novelty of it, if nothing else, I didn’t have an educational mess to clean up the next day, and I didn’t embarrass myself by praying for snow in sunny Santa Cruz.