Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remind 101

I am a huge fan of students and parents being able to communicate with me, the teacher, outside of school hours. There are several ways to go about this communication (find all my posts labeled "communication" in the "Crops From the Past" section on the right side of this page, or find specific ideas on my Tech Ideas page), but I'm here today to tell you about the newest website: Remind101.


Remind101 is a fairly new service that allows teachers to text information to parents and students without ever revealing the teacher's phone number. It reminds me a LOT of using Twitter in the classroom to alert students/parents of information, but this particular service allows e-mail alerts and helps your students escape from some of the unfortunate "perverted-ness" that can be on Twitter. *Woot woot!* I'm all for that!

Great features of Remind101:
  • Incredibly easy-to-use and easy-to-understand setup. 
  • Parents/students can choose to sign up with an e-mail address instead of a phone number; all future notifications sent by the teacher will come to the parent/student via e-mail after that. 
  • Remind101 is in its beta stages and is therefore currently free to everyone. 
  • Users can have up to 10 separate "classes" of students. Need more? The Remind101 team invites you to e-mail them to request more classes. 
  • A simple and easy instruction sheet is developed by Remind101 and ready for download and distribution the minute you create a class. It comes in a PDF form with minimal text that even the less tech-savvy folks will know be able to follow.
  • No one except the teacher needs an account. 
  • It's quick and easy for students/parents to sign up to follow you...and for them to unsubscribe to your updates at the end of the semester/season/year. 
  • There's an app for that -- Remind101 -- and it's FREE, as well. 
How do I get started?
  1. Go to www.remind101.com
  2. Click "sign up" and fill in the appropriate boxes. It's safe to enter your first name; when a message is sent to your classes, Remind101 will tell them it's from Mr. or Mrs. xxx (or Coach, Professor, Dr....whichever title you prefer!). 
  3. Create up to 10 classes (more about class ideas later in this post). 
  4. Locate the "print instructions" link at the top of the website (or under "settings" or individual classes) and print out as many copies as you need to help students and parents know how to access your information. 
  5. Invite parents/students to subscribe to your updates. You can also subscribe to your own updates to test whether or not it's working and how it looks from your viewers' end. (I did this to get a  better feel for the website.)
The setup is a lot like the one I described in my Twitter in the Classroom post --  after signing up, you receive a specific "phone number" that will be associated with your account. From there, anyone who wants to view your updates only needs to "subscribe" to your messages.


For instance, maybe your phone number is (555) 555-5555 and your code is @cats. If someone wanted to receive text message updates from you, they would text the code (@cats) to that 555 number. They would automatically be subscribed at that point. At the end of the year, you could just ask students and parents to unsubscribe, much like they would unsubscribe from a mobile update on Twitter: text the code "stop" or "unsubscribe" to that same 555 number. Easy-peasy.

From there, you're ready to send messages! The message-sending screen could NOT be more simple:

Click the picture to enlarge it

Type your message into the message field, staying under 140 characters (which is the limit for non-iPhone users), and press "send."

Notice the "schedule for later" button that is next to the "send" button. This allows you to pre-schedule text message alerts that will go out to your classes!

Also, notice the bottom box in the left sidebar of my screenshot above. Mine says "test class subscribers." This screenshot was taken before I subscribed to my own class to get a better understanding for what was going on. When I subscribed to my own updates, I was prompted to enter my full name so that "Mrs. K. knows you who are." I thought this might be so that parents and students can reply to notifications (to ask questions or clarify things), but that was not the case. When I tried to text back a reply, Remind101 sent me a text message that said, "Sorry, you can't reply to your teacher. You can only join his/her class." Bummer.

After I subscribed to my own class, I noticed that my view of the website -- logged in as the teacher -- changed a bit. All of a sudden, I could see a count of how many mobile subscribers I have to that class (1, currently), how many e-mail subscribers I have, and how many total there are. In addition, I can now see the full names of my subscribers (myself -- hehe) underneath those statistics. See?

You can edit the names of your subscribers if you need to. For the purposes of this screenshot, I named myself "Test Student.")

After you send a notification, a box appears under the message bubble. This shows the message(s) you've sent, when you sent them, and who they went to. I'm not sure how many messages it keeps -- all of them? 20? 5? But it would be handy to print it out and bring it to a P/T conference, if necessary.

Most elementary teachers probably don't have more than 1 class, while most high school teachers probably don't have more than 3 or 7. Here are some ways I've thought of to use Remind101's multiple-class feature:
  1. Assign different people into different groups. Perhaps you have Spelling Group A and Spelling Group B. Maybe you could arrange those into different groups so you could text the appropriate spelling words each week to the appropriate people. Likewise, if you had a group of "homeroom moms" or other volunteers, there may be information that you'd prefer only they know. 
  2. What if you're a pull-out teacher who sees many classes per day? Let's say you're the Gifted and Talented teacher, and you see 5 groups per day, per week. Maybe you have different projects going for each of those groups, so you'd need to divide them all into separate "classes" in your Remind101 account. (This is where the ability to e-mail the Remind101 Team to request more classes would come in handy.)
  3. What if you're a coach? You might teach 5 classes per day and then assign your team to a class of their own. Maybe you make the Booster Club members a separate "class," and the starters are a separate "class" in your Remind101 account. What if you teach, coach, AND sponsor something else, like Fellowship of Christian Athletes? You could separate all of those contact lists into separate "classes" in your Remind101 account. 
The OCD-part of me really likes this ability to divide the larger groups into smaller ones.

(By the way, if you're a youth leader, other community organization leader, or even a group counselor, Remind101 could also be really beneficial for you, too!)

You may have seen my Twitter in the Classroom series awhile back and noticed that I loved that students could reply to my messages when I was tweeting. I'm bummed that Remind101 doesn't let students/parents reply to the teacher, but there are still ways that this notification system could be useful. I wrote a whole list of things to send in my Twitter for the Classroom {Part 3} post. Here are a few that don't require a reply:
  1. Reminders about assignments that are due or upcoming quizzes/exams/projects. 
  2. Reminders about snow days, picture days, sporting events, field trips, spirit days, etc. 
  3. School events and/or their outcomes (plays, musicals, art shows, academic meets, etc.) -- especially ones where your school won/did well or is playing a rival!
  4. Hints about how to complete an assignment or project.
  5. Helpful websites that could assist them academically (StarFall, CliffNotes, Online Calculator, etc.)
  6. Apple/Blackberry, Android apps they might find helpful. (I remember tweeting about Flashcards+ and Sundry Notes!)
  7. Books you recommend (I always have some students who have a hard time finding something interesting to read. I read books from my classroom library and tweet short blurbs to interest students in the book!)
  8. Vocabulary words/definitions in a Word of the Day (#WOTD) format.
  9. Exit ticket answers. (If students ask a question on an exit ticket, you could answer it via the classroom notification center. This allows everyone to benefit from the answers without taking up any class time.
  10. Motivational/inspirational quotes
 I still can't decide if I like Twitter or Remind101 better! Remind101 is better for more private things, and it seems like it's developed with education in mind. Twitter is better for conversation and can be done via your mobile phone and a Twitter app. Hmm.

Which one sounds like a better notification service to you?

3 comments:

  1. I saw this recently and set it up. It is awesome! I am definitely going to use it with my parents next year!
    :) Dana
    Fun in 1st Grade

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweet! I would love to know how it turns out!

      Delete
  2. This is such a cool idea! I love that it keeps my cell phone number private. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial, tips, and ideas! Love it!

    Sarah
    Miss A's Kindergarten

    ReplyDelete

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