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Monday, August 6, 2012

Why I'm using Remind 101 this year

For the last few years, I've sent parents a 'daily email' that included a link to our team announcements, homework, events, and a "What did you do at school today?" section to help generate conversation at night! I borrowed this idea of course. Parents tell us year after year they like and appreciate the consistent communication. We view it as key to a smooth and connected year with students, parents, teachers, and community. Daily routine: all 4 team teachers edit their part of our team Google Doc.  I send out the google doc link in an email to our parent list in the afternoon. (I would make a copy of our team original Gdoc that we work from daily, then set that new doc to shared/view.)

Why I am rethinking the Email ONLY method of info delivery:
  • Issue 1: Our students wanted to get the daily email but didn't!  Most 6th graders don't have their own email accounts and they can't always check their school email at school or home.
  • Issue 2: Some parents had the daily email sent to a work email and then didn't have access to it at home. If I sent it after they left work, they did not get it.
  • Fact: Kids and parents are more connected via phones now than they were in the past 3 years. Many kids and parents DO have cell phones and have the ability to receive texts. 

This year: Send out daily team 'communication' w/Remind 101
  • Versatile: Parents and kids can choose to get the daily team communication sent to their email addresses OR their cell phones as a text OR to both
  • Easy to implement: Teachers send home ONE PAPER with SIMPLE 2 step text and email directions on what to do  to get registered in the group.  (See video and link at bottom of page) That's it! No tedious codes to pass out to individual students and parents. Students/parents send a text and/or an email to the address/number given and then respond to followup text/email with their names. Voila, they show up in your group list. You do nothing. That's really all there is to it.
  • Easy to send messages: You type messages directly into either Remind 101 on your computer or Remind 101 PHONE APP on your phone. Add links, info, whatever. Just like Twitter, you get 140 characters, so links work great. Students and parents will receive message on their phones and/or in their emails (at home or on the go). You can schedule messages to go out in advance as well.
  • The fine print: 
    • Remind 101 is FREE and you do NOT have to have a smartphone to receive Remind 101 messages!
    •  Students/Parents cannot reply back to the Remind 101 texts or emails they receive. There is a solution to that. Our email addresses are all hyperlinked and they can simply click to email from right from our linked google doc. (You could also add your email address to your messages in Remind 101)
    • No phone numbers or email addresses are seen by anyone. Students/parents are identified by name.
    • If there is a field trip or other big event throughout the year, you can send out quick reminders and both parents and kids will receive that info!
  • Other Uses? Communicate with small school groups or clubs like STUCO with Remind 101. How about teacher groups/committees? Each teacher can have up to 10 different classes. If I lead a photography group like I did last year, I would set up another class in Remind 101, give the small group of kids the paper with the two ways to sign up and the codes --and then communicate away!

WATCH THIS VIDEO--1 minute Remind 101 Tutorial!

A fantastic blogpost on Remind 101 I found earlier this summer!

.✏ Mrs. Stanford's Class ✏.: Remind 101 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

No Frills Fast Guide to Edu-Tweeting!

A. Create a Twitter Account and HANDLE (ex: my handle is @lauragilchrist4) at
  1. Be sure to include a profile picture and an edu-bio. (see other bios for guidance) 
  2. Keep it public if you want to make connections and grow your PLN (personal learning network)
  3. When making your handle, think short, professional, easy to remember. You CAN change your handle, fyi.     
B. Follow 50-100 people to build a solid HOME tweet stream which you will mine for edu-gold. 
(If you only follow say 10 educators you won't see the diversity in your tweetstream when you click the HOME/BIRDHOUSE icon, so DO IT!)
  1. Click on my EduSTARter List and simply CLICK FOLLOW on at least 50 but preferably 100 educators from my PLN. Fast and Easy. I follow lots of superintendents and principals as well as teachers themselves, consultants, university folks, too. I like a wide range of educators and views in my home tweet stream. You're now building your PLN!
C. Time to start Tweeting, Retweeting, & Replying (interacting w/yourPLN)
  1. Click HOME icon in upper left; VOILA, tweets from the people you just followed appear. Skim through these for edu-gold. This is how I started. Connects you with wide range of edu-knowledge and resources.
  2. When ready, pick a tweet you like and RETWEET IT to your followers by simply clicking Retweet button at bottom of tweet. (Hover over the tweet to see Retweet and other options.)
  3. Pick a tweet you want to REPLY to and click Reply. The handle of the person you are replying to appears automatically at the beginning. Type your reply right after the handle. Hit reply. You tweeted a reply to that person. That person sees it automatically as do your followers. 
  4. TWEET Your Own Tweet: Click the blue tweet box upper right so blank tweet box pops up. Type something you believe in or want to share. Optional: add a link, a person's handle, and/or a hashtag! Tweet it! (You get 140 characters to get your point across!)
  5. Quote Tweet: To add something to a Retweet in you must do something extra: Click the blue tweet box upper right so blank tweet box pops up. Copy and Paste the tweet you like into it. Then copy/paste the tweeter's handle in front of that. Type RT in front of handle, leaving a space between RT and @. At this point, you can click tweet OR you can add words of your own to the front, before the RT. Hashtags are typically placed at the end. Click here: Video tutorial: How to Quote Tweet in Twitter (RT and MT)
I retweeted Jaime's Tweet by clicking the Retweet icon at the bottom of her tweet
Mitsi tweeted me after Twitter class.
Aha moment that I experience as well.  I Retweeted it. 

I replied to Nikki. What a grand idea!

Quote Tweet
(I copy/pasted Joe Mazza's tweet and handle, added RT--so I could add a hashtag to it.)

D. Time to find tweets on YOUR specific topics/content by using HASHTAGS (#).
  1. Hashtags are typically added to the end of tweets. Hashtags send tweets to additional places to be seen by people w/specific interests. Let's say you send a tweet w/no hashtag. It is seen by anyone, but ONLY if they follow you or click on your name and see your tweets.  If you add #elemchat to the end of your tweet, it will also be seen by anyone that monitors #elemchat by typing it into their search bar. You HELP people find resources by adding hashtags. Hashtags we type into the search bar help us find specific info whereas our Home Stream is a wide range of edu-tweets from people we follow.
  2. Choose a hashtag from  November LearningEdudemic hashtag list  or Cybraryman's hashtag list  that applies to you and what you teach. (start w/first list) Type it in the search bar (for example: #edchat, #edtech, #sschat, #4thchat). Skim the hashtag tweet stream for topics you like/need. 
  3. Now you can Retweet, Reply, Quote Tweet and Tweet any of the tweets you see in that hashtag tweet stream. Find a person tweeting stuff you like/need? Follow that person by clicking that person's name and clicking Follow.
  4. List your favorite hashtags in a written or digital 'space' for future reference. You'll add more #'s to it as you grow in Twitter! Refer to your hashtag list when tweeting or searching for specific items--so you can find OR share your knowledge with people who want and will use it. 
  5. Again, DON'T FORGET TO ADD #'s on your tweets or RT's with info a specific community will benefit from. You can add 1 # or many more.
  6. Many of the hashtags have assigned chat times. I participate when I can in #sschat, #edchat, #scichat, #satchat, #pblchat. You can connect from all over the world at the same day/time each week about a given topic picked by the moderators or members. Chat times list:
No frills, really! Just some finer points:
  1. What is a PLN? Personal Learning Network. 24/7 access to info, people, ideas WORLDWIDE at YOUR convenience. This is REAL professional development to me. I don't feel isolated in my classroom now; I feel connected to a much bigger whole. I've found my Edu-voice after 17 years of teaching. Why? I read and view a wide range of ideas, resources and then interact with people about them. I like it. A lot. #howdidisurvivebefore 
  2. How can I use FAVORITES? If you don't have time to explore a tweet, but you want to later, click the favorite star at bottom of tweet. It is then stored in your favorites to access at any time in future. Find your favorites by clicking on your name in upper left (by your picture) and favorites appears below on left.
  3. How to check for number of retweets and favorites on a tweet? Click on a tweet in an empty space. Info will appear.
  4. There must be a space before AND after a # and @ to be clickable/linkable. (commas, ? don't affect it)    
  5. Abbreviations commonly used: Ss = students; 4 = for; 2 = to, too; tchr=teacher; and more! Ok to abbreviate and not use proper grammar. This is about max quick communication of key ideas in only 140 characters.  
  6. Direct Messages: You can Directly message (DM) someone on Twitter and only you two see it. Caveat: You must be following each other to DM with a person. To find the DM button, click on the Person Icon in the upper right and select Direct Message!
  7. To set up your notifications, change your background on Twitter page (Click display), and more, click on Person Icon in upper right and select Settings!
  8. Get the Twitter app on your phone! It has a Quote Tweet option which means you never have to copy and paste! I really like and use from my computer. No copy/paste and you can bank items to edit later as well as send tweets at specific days/times.
12 reasons to get your school district Tweeting by @Joe_Mazza
Twitter: Potential for the Exponential

I started by simply checking my home feed and retweeting. Then I moved up to Quote tweeting and replying/engaging with other educators. Don't be shy or afraid. Jump in when you're ready. Connect. Grow and throw down those classroom walls. Our classrooms can now be the world.

***Give Twitter a chance--two weeks of monitoring Home tweet stream and hashtags that fit your needs (type in search bar)After that time, reflect on your Twitter experience. Did you grow as a learner and leader? Did you feel like a Connected Educator? Did the things you find on Twitter enrich your kids, your school community, your planning, your enthusiasm, and YOU as a professional educator? #Youmatter and YOU can add to and become an important part of the thought-flow of the edu-Twitterverse.