As if the weather wasn’t an indicator, the number of “back to school” emails that I’ve received in the last week tells me that it’s time to start thinking about back-to-school season. So if you find yourself starting to think about the new things you want to do in your classroom this year and realize that you need some new supplies, here’s my short list of recommended products. As the title of this post says, all of these are products that I’ve personally bought and continue to use.
For Video and Audio Production
If you’re thinking about having students make videos, especially green screen videos this year, here are a few things that I recommend getting. The bottom of this section includes my microphone recommendations too.
Tripods: I have two that I use. One is this little Targus desktop tripod which is perfect for making a quick announcement video or live-streaming from my desk. I’ve tried other desktop tripods, including a Ubzee model that broke on the second use, and the Targus is the best one.
For shooting video in a standing position or while seated on a stool, I use this Sunpak tripod. It’s nothing fancy, but at $22 it’s perfect for my needs. I will warn you though that I probably wouldn’t trust it with a big, heavy camera on it in the wind.
Cell phone mount for tripod: most of the smartphones that we carry in our pockets today are more than adequate for shooting classroom video projects. But you will need a way to hold the phone steady. Again, I’ve tried a lot of cell phone mounts for tripods and had a couple break without much force. The one that has stood up for me is this spring-loaded metal one from DaVoice.
Lighting: lighting and sound can make or break a video. I use a ring light to cast an even light when recording videos. I use this LED ring light that has adjustable color and brightness.
Microphones: I’ve been using and recommending Blue Snowball iCE microphones for at least five years now. They provide high quality recording at a price point that is reasonable for classrooms. Plus, they’re durable. One of the two that I own has been dropped from TSA x-ray conveyor belts a handful of times and keeps on ticking.
A cheaper microphone option that I started using last year for classroom projects is the Huacam 3.5 mm lapel microphone. They come in three packs for $7. These are adequate for classroom projects in which students will be recording directly into an app like Anchor.fm, SeeSaw, or Synth.
If you want input from two lapel microphones into the same recording device, try using this 3.5mm input/ output splitter.
I used to use the simple Apple TV remote to control slides. I long ago abandoned that in favor of this Targus Laser Presentation remote that works on Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks. Amazon usually has them listed for about $30 which is a better deal than the $55 I recently saw advertised at my local Staples store.
For Your Well Being
Don’t forget to take of your health during the busy school year. I let myself get way out of shape last fall and paid for it by having to work my butt off, literally, all winter and spring to get into shape by summer. I’m no expert when it comes to exercise, but I can tell you that I have benefitted from using a heart rate monitor to shape my workouts. I use a Garmin Instinct watch to track heart rate and other aspects of my training.