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New tool day is a little different this time around.

Illustration for article titled New tool day is a little different this time around.
Photo: Shop-Teacher was here

Whether our school actually opens in a few short weeks with a hybrid schedule like our school board is planning to, or we switch to a remote start like many (most?) school districts are (and our union is pushing hard for), I will be making a lot of videos this year.

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With the emergency remote learning this past spring, I was forced to actually learn how to edit videos like I had been wanting to do for years. It went fairly well, and earned myself and my department a lot of praise from students, parents, other faculty, and even administration. Most importantly, we salvaged a meaningful learning experience for our students. We may not have been able to do almost anything that we would have done in person, but we taught them a lot of related things, and even covered topics we never would have covered in a normal school situation.

I filmed a few of those with my counterpart at another school in our district, using his personal GoPro. Most of them, however, I filmed by myself using my Pixel 3A and no tripod. As a result they were often shaky, audio was hit or miss (although much better than I feared it would be and totally usable), but the real problem was I had to cut away during several critical steps, due to a lack of a third hand. This led to me doing my best to explain what I was going to do or had done, since I couldn’t always show it. It was the best I could do at the time, but not ideal.

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Not content to wait around while the powers that be just keep saying “We’ll figure it out,” repeatedly, I elected to use a portion of my tool and supply budget on a GoPro and some accessories to help me make the best videos possible for my students. These videos will be great learning tools, even in the future when things are back to normal. So, it’s worth it to invest in some proper gear.

In addition to the GoPro itself, I got a media mod for better audio, a light mod for better ... err ... light, a few different options for mounting, as well as an extra battery and screen/lens protectors.

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Also pictured is the nicest wireless mouse I have ever used, by a lot, that our very own Tripper was gracious enough to give me when I asked about wireless mouses last week (I think it was last week). Once again proving that Oppo is the best place on the internet, bar none.

Anyways, the way things will work when we’re in a hybrid schedule (again, whether this happens in three weeks or in six months), is I’m going to record all of my demonstrations and whole class instruction, so students can watch those at home. That way when we are together in school, all of that time will be work time. It will still be a net loss of work time, but we’ll maximize the time we do have together.

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I am fortunate to work in a district that gives my program the resources to make such a decision. One thing I have never complained about, is the budget my program has to work with. It’s adequate to cover all the necessary supplies, and keep the equipment in good order. Not a penny of this purchase came out of my pocket, and I still have plenty more budget to work with. This funding, along with the commitment of all of my department members, has given us the facilities we need to have some of the best equipped middle school shops I would guess in our country, and better than many high school shops. Yes, I’m bragging, because we’re awesome.

This week I need to inventory my hand tools. They tell me my max class size will be 10, because my CAD lab is so tiny that 10 is the max it can fit while keeping students 6' apart. I want to make sure I have at least 12 of every hand tool, so nobody has to share tools. Yeah, 12 because I want one for me and one extra. Big shop tools will have to be disinfected between each use.

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This is going to be a weird freaking year, but I’m determined to make the best of it. Whenever we’re back in school, I’ll have to shave my beard. I’m not wearing a mask all day with a beard, that’s too itchy. That will also be weird. My kids have never seen me without a beard.

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