It’s the middle of November, and that means that a few things are on the horizon for us in the United States: the Thanksgiving holiday as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping deals.
Pretty soon, shoppers will pack shopping malls and department stores for deeply discounted goods. Some will avoid those crazy crowds and do most of their shopping online. (Here’s where Amazon’s Cyber Monday deals will appear.)
For educators, all of that shopping and bargain hunting don’t have to happen for holiday gifts. It can be a great time to maximize our spending on our classroom!
In that spirit, here are some suggested “edu-buys” — purchases that educators might like for their classrooms or for themselves. All are items I’ve used in my classroom, keep with me in my backpack or have on my own personal wish list. (Items shown with link to Amazon and price the day this post was published.)
In my backpack …
Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB Microphone ($52.00) — Creating quality audio or video can be made much better if your sound is good. Having a nice USB microphone like this has let me make create how-to videos, interviews, video calls and more. This microphone is best for recording one person’s voice at a time (held up to his/her mouth). If you hear me on the HookED radio show on the BAM Radio Network, this is the microphone you hear me using.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 ($67.97) — I first used this webcam to record my session, “Ditch your textbooks with Google Apps,” for the online Education on Air conference by Google for Education. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed the high-quality HD picture that this webcam offers. Plus, you can install a controller app on your computer that lets you zoom in and pan side to side, among other things. It’s been great for video chats and for recording videos to upload to YouTube.
Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 ($17.99) — I’ve owned this exact wireless mouse for a few years now and use it all the time. I didn’t expect to get so attached to having a wireless mouse. It’s great for general use with my computer (I choose a mouse over a touchpad any day). Plus, when I’m teaching or presenting to teachers, I can carry it around the room and continue to operate my computer from anywhere. I even use it as in place of a clicker to advance slides. If you don’t have one yet, this has been a very reliable model. It may become your next must-have accessory!
LG G Watch R ($379.99) — OK, this one is quite a splurge and I’m even a bit embarrassed to say that I own such an expensive watch. (For what it’s worth, my wife bought it for me for my birthday with credit card rewards points we have racked up buying materials for our new house.) However, it’s a great tool to pair with my Android phone, and there are much less expensive options (like the ASUS ZenWatch 2, which I also strongly considered). I don’t pull my phone out of my pocket nearly as much, and I’m more connected to my notifications when I’m wearing it.
On my list …
Sphero ball ($174.35) — Coding is a great skill to hone at school, and it’s one that will prepare students for a future that will depend heavily upon it. Coding is a skill that I want my own students and children to learn. Sphero makes it fun. Use Sphero’s app to program its movements. Use programming logic to roll it through a maze, through the classroom or through the hallways.
Makey Makey ($49.95) — Turn everyday objects like bananas into touchpads. Play games and use your computer with blobs of Play Doh. Makey Makey gets kids thinking about circuitry and programming in a fun and unique way!
3Doodler 3D 2.0 ($99.99) — Forget drawing in two dimensions. The 3Doodler 2.0 lets students make 3D creations with this innovative pen. 3D printing is gaining popularity every day, and this is a way to harness that in the classroom. Let students bring their inventions and ideas to life in three dimensions with this tool.
In my classroom …
10 pack universal stylus ($2.29) — Having a stylus has become a necessity for me. When I create sketchnotes on the Paper app by FiftyThree on my iPad, I’m always at my best when I’m using a stylus. I have used the Pencil stylus by FiftyThree for sketching and general use on my iPad, but I’ve found that the extra expense just didn’t improve my experience that much. I bought several packages of these cheap styluses for my classroom and have been happy with them. If my students use them and a few happen to disappear, it isn’t a major problem.
AmazonBasics 3-Button USB Wired Mouse ($5.99) — When a cart of Chromebooks was delivered to my classroom, my students and I realized something in the first month of using them. A touchpad is much harder to use than a mouse for some tasks. I bought about 20 cheap USB mice from Amazon and kept them in a box in the back of my room in case a student preferred a mouse over a touchpad. They were very popular with some students. There are even cheaper options than this one (including one for $2.30 plus shipping).
Ditch That Textbook ($20.00) — Can you blame me for suggesting this one? What better way to gather ideas for your classroom and rethink education than getting a copy of this book? I wrote it for teachers who don’t want to do things the same old way. There are practical, “use them tomorrow” ideas as well as chapters that will make you think twice about the state of education today. If you don’t have a copy yet, I suggest getting one now! (Available in paperback and for Kindle.)
[reminder]What edu-buys are on your radar? What do you think of the ones on this list?[/reminder]
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