The Substitute Dilemma

by Abby @ Quaver on February 27, 2014

in In the Quaver Classroom!,

Music Educators are a busy bunch!

Between commitments to family and community in and out of school, it’s inevitable that at some point – you’re going to have to answer the dreaded question: How can I leave Quaver in the hands of a Substitute? 

We asked Quaver Teacher (and TI:ME Teacher of the Year) Catie Dwinal to tell us how she prepares for a Sub in her Music Classroom:

I don’t know about you, but as a Quaver teacher, I sometimes find it even harder to leave because I’m so excited for the next exciting Quaver lesson! The Quaver Curriculum and Essentials Classrooms are not something I ever leave to a sub on their own. They are definitely best used in the hands of a professional music educator like yourself! But that doesn’t mean Quaver can’t come to the rescue and help make sure my students continue to learn even when I’m out sick or traveling to present at a conference. 

I always rely on and the resources that live on the Student section of the website. There are tons of meaningful activities there that a sub can do with my students while I am away. I always make sure the activities I leave are easy for anyone to do and that will help my students review material we’ve gone over together. 

Here are a few tips and several activity ideas you can keep in your back pocket to make planning for an absence easier and your substitute’s experience a fun one!

Catie’s Quaver Sub Tips:

1. Set up a test student account at for your Substitute:

When first thinking about having a sub, my main concern was leaving them with my account username and password. Instead, I leave activities for them using the student portion of the site, I leave the QuaverName and Password for one of my test student accounts I have set up.

Simply go to, Click Sign Up, and Create An Easy-To-Remember Student Account using your Class Code.

This is the safest, easiest way to give them access to activities on the student portion of without giving access to your Teaching Materials. If you connect the account to one of your classes in the GradeBook tool, you can even give that account a One-Day Pass to any of the venues or games. This makes your sub plans even easier to create without worrying about what the account can access and what it cannot.

There are LOADS of activities your sub can do, guiding the class on a group adventure from the projector or interactive whiteboard. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ride the Metro or time travel in the Phone Box together and as a class discover different musical venues and history. After, you could have the sub help them write down facts to share with you when you return.
  • In the Lab, go to EarIQ and together, play the games to practice ear training.
  • QSkits allows your sub to help the class create a fabulous skit using Debussy, Vivaldi, and Beethoven as the main characters!
  • The Studio Creatives provide endless opportunities for composing and creating. Create a piece together on QComposer or QBackBeat and try to play with it on instruments after, or have them create a QGrooves piece and write a rap to go along with it they could perform for you when you return. Go into QDancer and together as a class choreograph a dance to show you when you return!
  • Check out some of the WebQuests I have written for the free student portion of the website. A lot of those can be used as a full class as well!


2. Take advantage of technology

Whatever technology you have in your classroom, you don’t need to be afraid to use it in substitute plans. I have a lot of access to net book and iPad carts, and my students know their rules and procedures for my room. I typically ask that my older students work independently on some activities listed above with the iPads or net books is always an option. It’s easy for the sub to facilitate this activity and behaviors seem to be best when the students are working independently on technology. I always notify my school media assistant before I do just in case any tech problems arise, but most of the time my students can log in to their accounts by themselves and there are no problems.

The net books offer the full run of while the iPads are great with the QDancer or QAstroNotes apps. Students can work together to choreograph dances and try to beat each others scores while identifying the notes floating through space towards them. 

I do occasionally leave Quaver episodes for my substitutes to watch with the students. I usually have already started on the concept in the episode or have finished it so the episode fits in perfectly into my lessons flow. I leave the episode questions for them to talk about with the students and some sort of worksheet or movement activity suggested in the teacher guides. If you need a song to go with the movement activities, the DVDs with the episodes have the tracks right on them!

Writing plans and leaving your amazing classroom in the hands of someone else is always hard, but taking the time to use the simple technology you have at your fingertips with can help.

It just takes a little creativity, some technology, and as always, Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music! 


Click Below to download bonus Lesson Plans
from Catie for your Subs:




{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Marcus Johnson February 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Love, love, LOVE…I’m definitely going to use this!


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