Top 3 Classroom Tools in the New Normal

Apr 27, 2021

Hey there and welcome back to the sustainable teacher podcast where we talk about all things that help teachers build sustainable classrooms so they can stay there longer. And as we are approaching the new normal we’ve got to talk about technology.  In fact I almost named this episode are you technology fatigued yet. Ha!  

But instead of being funny I wanted to be sure that you knew exactly what you’re getting from this episode and that we will be discussing three tools that I believe you absolutely have to use inside of your classroom when the new normal is here.

And after listening to this episode you will have a full grasp on the few powerful tools you want to have in your classroom as we approach what will be the new normal education so that you can rest in knowing what consistently works and not be bogged down by all the technology options.

So let’s do this.

Flipped Videos

Most of the time when teachers hear about the flipped classroom the main thing that they think about in terms of the shift in their workload are the flipped videos. And rightfully so that is where a lot of your work goes into and your effort goes into in order to create your flipped classroom so that is also where I’m going to start in this episode.

You absolutely want a rock solid, very quality tool that is a screen recording software.  But you also want that software to give you the ability to edit.

So my recommendation around the tool that I’m going to suggest to you is twofold.

  1. Choose a video recording and even screen recording tool that is a downloadable software and is not cloud-based. And I’ll talk more about that here in just a second. And,
  2. Make sure that that same tool allows you to edit. Now you may be thinking that if I’m recording a video that I then just have to edit that’s just going to add time that I am working on all of this. And I am actually going to ease your worries there, teacher friend, and let you know that that is not the case and I’ll explain why.

So why do you want a tool that is not cloud-based and actually will live on your computer? The big answer here is because when you are creating these videos that will have a much longer life than probably some videos that you created back in March 2020 that was very much just a reaction to the times, you absolutely want these videos to be rather high-quality. And a higher quality tool will make a higher quality video.

Likewise and probably more significantly you don’t wanna rely on the cloud when you are needing to create a video for your classroom. Sometimes you’re going to be making a video that your students need the next day or that night, and if you are relying on the Internet just like everyone else and their brother is relying on the Internet, in some cases on the same website to create videos, you’re setting yourself up for some major headache there.

And on that same note what about when you are sitting courtside at your own child’s practice of some sort and for whatever reason don’t have Internet access or you’re waiting in the car at the dentist appointment and don’t have Internet access yet you need to make a video because you very much rely on those few transitional minutes that you have throughout your day, that is a time when you very much want some thing that is not cloud-based but that lives on your computer.

So then why do you want the power to edit? And I phrase that the power to edit because I want you to know that there really is power in editing not just a time suck. In fact editing is not a time suck because you’re able to be proactive in knowing you can edit when you are recording that sets you up for a much more streamlined editing process. 

Here’s where editing really is going to save you time though... it’s when you get interrupted in some way, whether you are recording at home and your dog barks or your child has a question, or you’re recording at school and the bell rings or a student comes in during your planning period to ask a question. 

Because you have the ability to edit you don’t have to start that video over now, saving you a ton of time in the recording process.

The absolute best tool in the industry that is both easy to use for beginners and yet provides lots of tools that you can grow into as you get more comfortable is without a doubt Camtasia by TechSmith.

Camtasia absolutely does all of the things that I have described here, Plus way more, like I said that you can grow into once you get better at your recording and editing game and really grow into the possibilities that this software offers you.

This is the exact software that I have been using since I started flipping my classroom over 10 years ago. I really could talk for hours about this one tool but I’m not going to do that but I don’t want to leave you empty-handed either so please go to a teachonamission.com/camtasia to learn more and see some of my example videos as well as get a 10% discount on the already discounted educators price that they offer you simply because you’re an awesome listener of the Sustainable Teacher podcast.

Demonstration Videos

Camtasia is a great tool to use for the more typical or traditional flipped videos that you may have seen where the teacher is talking on the video over their slides and there may or may not be a little square or circle bubble in one of the corners of the teacher as he or she is talking.

But those are not the only videos that we create in our classrooms in most classrooms. Right? In most classrooms we may create some where we were talking over our slides. But we also want to create videos that are more demonstration based. 

Some videos that I have made that are like this or where I am demonstrating for students very literally my hand writing on a piece of paper how to write an FRQ, or free response question.

In a math class you very much want to demonstrate for your students how to work a problem or use a specific formula.  In an ELA class you want to show students how to annotate a text. In a performing arts class you very much want to show your students for instance what their hand looks like on the bow of the violin.

But here’s the thing about these types of videos especially the ones where we are writing and want to record as we are writing. We tend to think that we have to use some kind of fancy device like a tablet that allows us to ride on it and then some sort of fancy app that allows us to record us writing on it. And although those things do exist and they are wonderful it’s just another tool that you have to add to your repertoire and learn.

What I believe is a much more sustainable way is just to record the way that you already know how to do it.  And in most cases that is just you writing on a piece of paper on your desk. The way that you record that is by getting a document camera and setting it over top of your hands to record as you demonstrate.

So this is very much the second tool that I would recommend to you in the very specific document camera that I have used for years and love is the HUE HD Pro document camera.

The reason I love this document camera is because it’s really quality and allows me to really focus and a very easy way but more so because it also has a light on it and sometimes I don’t want the lights on in my classroom when I’m recording and yet on video I need my students to see my hands on the paper and saw the camera with a light on it allows me to do that.

So you may be asking well how in the world does this work? And the quick and easy is that you open up cam Tasia to make a new video you select your document camera as the camera that you will be recording from and you get out the super complex, techie computer paper or butcher paper or whatever you want and your favorite pen and you just record. Simple as that.

Formative data

The last tool that I’m going to recommend is not specifically for flipped videos but is absolutely imperative in any flipped classroom for lots of reasons. The main reason being because it’s even more important in your flip classroom to get a gauge on how well your students are taking in the information and able to prove that they know and have mastered the standards.

And for that reason the third tool is one that allows you to easily collect very clear formative data in your classroom. What this means is that when your students are finished watching a video or maybe you do it after they’ve dove deeper into the contact in class you give them a formative check or a formative quiz that truly informs you on how the instruction has gone thus far.

The tour needs to be easy for you to use and create the quizzes, it needs to be easy for your students to use and take the quizzes, and it needs to give you very clear data when it’s all said and done.

I personally love Google forms and turning those into Google quizzes, but there are endless possibilities with ease. So my number one recommendation here is to be a good steward of what your school and school district already provide to you. If you are a Google school then you would use Google. If the main LMS that you use is Schoology or Canvas, then use those.  but keep it consistent and truly use the data that’s yielded from those formative checks.



All right so I went through the three tools but I can’t just stop there so I have a bonus classroom tool in the new normal for you.   And it’s getting back to your flipped videos but it’s not so much focus on the recording and editing aspect, well kind of. It’s audio.

Your students ability to clearly hear you without static, without interruption and with high quality is way more important than any really cool thing that you could do with a software in editing to add all kinds of bells and whistles. I’ll say that again audio trumps all of the extra bells and whistle‘s you could be putting into your videos.

So what I recommend here is after you’ve gotten at all like Camtasia is to test the built-in microphone that you have in your laptop or the device you are using to record. And then listen to it, see how the audio sounds and do this frequently throughout your life span of creating flipped videos because you just never know when the quality of your built in microphone could go bad.

If you don’t have rather quality audio from the built-in microphone I do recommend getting a USB microphone off of Amazon, or anywhere else that you can buy a microphone but two day shipping sounds great to me, right?

Are use and love the Blue Yeti USB microphone, but that is not cheap so please don’t feel like you have to have that high quality of a microphone. Something for around 20 to 30 or even $50 off of Amazon is going to be just fine.

All right now I have to tell you something. At the time of this recording which is April 2021 and this episode will air at the end of April 2021 we are at the tail end of what is a 30 day flipped classroom training private Facebook group.  meaning I’m inviting you to come and join us in this private Facebook group full of teachers who want to know more about flipping their classrooms so that I can provide you weekly training and live Q&A sessions,  but more importantly and way more exciting I will be giving away one of each of the tools that I mentioned on this podcast that is one license to Camtasia valued at over $250, one HUE HD Pro document camera valued at $90 and one blue yeti USB microphone valued at $130!!!!

Join us in the 30 day flipped classroom Facebook group and be sure to request to join and will get you in there as soon as we can. At the time this episode will air there won’t be much more time in the group but you could get in for one of the giveaways of these tools.

All right there you have it teacher friend, the three classroom tools in the new normal that I think you absolutely need. Those being Camtasia, A non-cloud-based software that allows you to screen record, create videos, and edit videos. A HUE HD Pro document camera that allows you to be just a little less tacky when it comes to doing something so simple as demonstrating a skill to your students. A quality formative data assessment tool that gives you very clear data and it’s also very easy for both you and your students to use. And finally a microphone whether that is built into your laptop or a USB microphone that you purchase for about 30 bucks on Amazon that allows you to have a clear audio during your videos because that matters way more than any of the extra bells and whistle‘s that you could add in while editing.

I hope you have found this episode helpful and if you have I would so love it if you would subscribe so you don’t miss any other upcoming episodes and even rate and review the podcast which will let me know what you’re thinking as well as allow us to spread our message and reach other teachers with this idea that sustainability of them, the teacher in the room is a priority.

I’ll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.


I am SO Excited to announce, and want to personally invite you to my exclusive and only comes around every once in a blue moon, teacher workshop on the flipped classroom.  It's totally free, will be about one hour in length, and you'll get a certificate of completion at the end for CEUs!  

Please join me for my all new teacher workshop, 3 Insights to Flipping Your Classroom: Being MORE Sustainable in the New Normal of Education.  I'll have freebies for being there live, give you immense training on the flipped classroom, and then share an opportunity to work more together.  I hope to see you there!


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