Archive | Education RSS feed for this section

iCanHelpLine Update

7 Jun

It’s been a very exciting time promoting and spreading the word on the iCanHelpLine. At the time of this post, we passed the $10,000 mark in money raised for this important cause. Your support means that we can make sure our website is up and running with great content. We will be able to launch our phone service in the fall and Anne and I get to make our trip to the UK this summer….

Speaking of which, Anne and I will be traveling to the UK to learn about their very successful helpline for schools, which has been in place for the past several years. This helpline is our model because it’s the only other one in the world specifically for school staff and other professionals. This training will give us valuable insights and experience that will keep us from having to reinvent the wheel. [the perspective and insight that will make this helpline work for schools.]

In addition, we recently met with Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (TICAL) and the will be listing the helpline as a resource in their Social Media Handbook for Administrators. We really appreciate what TICAL does for technology and Administrative Leadership.

In the news, we had a great write up in the San Francisco Examiner by Laura Dudnick. She really get’s what we are about and how we will help schools.

We also had a great write up by Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth who wrote an incredible blog post about the impact a social media helpline will have for the United States.

That’s all for now, thanks for keeping up with our efforts and please keep spreading the word.

Internet Data and resources the iCanHelpline has to offer.

Internet Data and resources the iCanHelpline has to offer.

Social Media Helpline for Schools

12 May

#iCanHelpLineI remember my third grade experience like it was yesterday. The kids calling me names, running away before I could make them stop, chasing me when I went the other way or finding me playing on the playground so they could torment me some more. I remember going to the yard duty, a woman standing about 5’2″ who I thought was a giant, stared down at me to listen to my plight of being bullied daily. I told her what was happening, and without a pause she looked at me and said, “What do you want me to do? You tell me about this every single day. What do you expect me to do about it?”

To say this is a low point at the age of 8 is an understatement. The adult charged with making sure I stay safe and feel loved blowing me off like a beggar outside of the supermarket. In hindsight I think she posed a good question only because I don’t think she knew what to do about my being bullied, it beyond her skill set, boys being boys. I’m sure the reaction wold have been different had I done something about it and dealt with my oppressors in a different way, but that was not who I was.

That is the challenge we face, kids are being mean and the students we are expected to protect and make feel loved and valued in our schools are not always feeling that way. The post goes up, usually anonymous, through apps like Burnbook, Snapchat, Twitter or Instagram. The kids look to adults for guidance, they look to friends for support, but no one knows what to do or how to respond. Kids need help with a negative social media.

#icanhelp is all about empowering students to act and training adults in what to say or do when encountering negative social media. The iCanHelpLine is an extension of that idea that schools and organizations can contact when needing help with issues around harassment, bullying, sexting and reputation. #icanhelp and NetFamilyNews Inc. have the experience as well as the industry relationships to social media organizations to resolve issues and offer guidance. So, instead of asking, “What do you want me to do about it,” you will hear, “how can I help?”

Help make this Social Media Helpline a reality. Donate and share: igg.me/at/icanhelpline. To see some of the resources and how the iCanHelpLine will be a benefit to schools and education groups, check out this infographic below:

Internet Data and iCanHelpLine resources.

Internet Data and resources the iCanHelpline has to offer.

Connect your School with Remind

11 Mar

After using the Remind texting app with my students to connect my classes, I had a thought to connect my entire school in the same way. I’m constantly hearing from students that they are uninformed and don’t know what is going on at school. So, I set out to get my kids connected on their phones using Remind.

I targeted two groups year one, the freshmen and seniors. I knew that I would have those groups together, and that is key. If kids feel they have a choice to signup, most won’t. However, if all the kids are there at the same time and you instruct them to signup to get updates, they will see their friends signing up. That, and the kids get excited when the teacher tells them to take out their phones and do something with them. So, at freshmen orientation and at senior sunrise the first week of school, I had about three hundred kids sign-up for text updates. My students brought out a giant sign with the info needed to sign up and we parked them in front of the crowd as we explained how and why to signup.

Over the next two years we had all four classes signed up. Now, I had the ability to advertise dances, share deadlines, remind kids to bring books for library check in, and remind kids about spirit days (we started getting a better turnout). I would use the app for spirit give-a-ways (hide items on campus or have kids line-up by a certain door, first ten there get a spirit item).

One tip, have your students sign-up by class. For example, my current list is the Class of 2015, Class of 2016, Class of 2017 and the Class of 2018. This way, I can send a text to all groups, or, if it’s just seniors, I can send the text to just the Class of 2015.

How will you use Remind? 

Top Tips to Remind your Students

10 Mar

Over the past five years I have played with a lot of technology to keep in touch with students and make sure that the kids were connected and informed about school. With everything I have done, texting is the most effective method to connect with kids. If a student has a phone it will always be on his or her person and they will be tuned in waiting for  the next update or message that has relevancy to their world. With that I recommend Remind as a tool to help you stay connected. This is a teacher friendly app that safely connects you to students or parents to share information and content relevant to your class.

Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Have your class sign-up together as a group on the first day of school. I explain that text rates apply, kids get that, and that you want your kids to stay connected and informed.
  2. Make it Interactive right away. My first text that night is a question. The first ten kids who show up at class with the secret word or the answer to the riddle get a giant candy bar or similar prize.
  3. Tell kids to save the number you are using to sign up for the reminders as “School Reminders”. This way, if other teachers use the app, they won’t confuse Mr. Smith’s updates with Mrs. Jackson’s updates. This also goes back to not over texting kids especially if multiple teachers at your school use Remind.
  4. Encourage kids to get the app if they are able. There are additional features in the app, such as the new Chat feature from Remind, that goes beyond simple texting. Kids can use the app to communicate with you directly. This is a feature you can turn on or off.
  5. Put Remind up on your white board or screen, let kids see your admin panel, ask them when they want a reminder for an assignment. This will build trust as your kids see what you are doing and how you are managing the text messages.
  6. Create groups for each class. As hard as we try, first period and fifth period may not be on the same pace and updates may vary.
  7. Send out extra credit questions via text or leak test questions. The goal is interaction, that is more important than a point on a test.
  8. Attach handouts, resources, photos of the agenda or notes taken on the white board. Send out photos of great projects or historical events relevant to the course of study. In my class I send out video tutorials the kids can use on projects.
  9. Be aware of times. With high school kids, I target fifteen minutes before school, when the bell rings at the start of lunch, when the bell rings at the end of the school day or between 7-8 at night. I know that is when kids will have eyes on their phones and I will get the most interaction with my text. If you are middle school, I would target before school or after school. If you are grade school or below, find out when your parents are most receptive to getting info for your class.
  10. Sync your Remind account to Twitter. Now, you can group text and update Twitter with one push of the button.

Get started using Remind with one of your classes today. What are some ideas you have for using Remind in your class?

Teach Film Concepts Through iMovie

1 Dec

Learning how to create films was a challenge; but teaching others to create good film is a bigger challenge. Every day is a battle between getting people to understand the value of a good story and match that with the technical skill to pull it off. Most of the time, I can sell the idea of a good story – though it takes practice – it is easy to learn the value and appreciate a well told story. It’s the technical side of film that often scares most people away. My students – or adults – see what the editing panels in Final Cut or Adobe and tend to panic as they are unsure where to start.  Thanks to apps like iMovie on the iPad and iPhone the process has been simplified. Now, I can teach the basic concepts of story telling without creating a fear in others of not being sure what to do next.

Continue reading

Eliminate the Excuse

21 Nov

One of the first lessons I got in teaching was to develop strong classroom management procedures to handle the problems that I did not want to deal with. For example, passing in papers, I have my students do “School Olympics” where each class passes in papers to the back, then to the right, then into their box. I do this activity in the first week and again several more times to keep it fresh. This way, when I say pass in your papers, the kids know which way to go and where the box is to turn papers. No more questions on where papers go, no more kids, “here” instead of passing it in to the box, just a smooth simple procedure. Technology is the same way for me, I developed my resources for the sole purpose of eliminating problems in class: forgetting assignments, forgetting work, not doing work because the student needed help, forgetting books, losing a handout and much more. By adding technology resources to my classroom I am able to build stronger connections with my students while at the same time eliminating the excuse for not doing what is expected.  Continue reading

Working with Invisible Students

2 Sep

I recently took four students down to Chino Hills HS to see Janet Roberts and her high school put on an amazing rally. If you have not been, it is worth the visit. A connected and spirited campus is a high academically performing campus. What got me the most excited is not the rally nor the great conversation with my spirit and rally commissioners, it was a text from my ASB president, “We are going to have a picnic next Wednesday during lunch, easier to explain if you call.” So I did call, and what I heard was slightly short of amazing.

One of my students was walking across the common area when she saw many students sitting and eating alone. She came back to class rather upset where the kids had a conversation about inviting students to have lunch in the ASB room each Wednesday. The kids thought this was great, then another student suggested, “why don’t we bring some blankets and just invite people to sit with us each day on the grass?” We have four large grass areas in our common area, and all of the kids thought this was great.

So, every other Wednesday we are going to have an ASB picnic where all students are invited to sit in an area. The brilliance of the idea is its simplicity as well as the execution each week. Kids show up, take out blankets, sit and eat while we play some music and hang out. At the same time, our students, mentors and other leaders on campus are invited to go out and invite kids who normally do not have anyone to sit with out to our grass area to sit with other students.

This year my students have a strong sense of reaching out to kids on campus and improving the culture and climate. The old saying, “if you know someone’s story it’s hard to hate them,” is holding very true. We brought this idea up and one of my kids said, “if you know someone’s story it’s hard to forget them.” My kids dont’ want to forget any one on our campus.

Which Are You?

28 Aug

I had something interesting happen to me that I have not seen in a long time, a person actually went out of their way to tell me I was not good at something. In this day and age where teenage bravado is only matched by anyone’s desire to share or overshare whatever they are thinking whenever they are thinking it,  I’m still amazed at how far someone will go out of their way to put others down.  I got an email the other day that read, “Hey Guess What” in the subject line with the message of “Your videos are really bad.” I was a bit shocked. More so because these were not my videos, these were my students’ videos; and much like an overprotective parent, I was ready for battle. Then I was a reminded of a great poem I was exposed to a few years ago, and I asked myself, which are you, a builder or a wrecker?  Continue reading

Keeping in Touch with your Students

5 Jun

With any new technology, it inevitably takes me about a year to get anything under control and integrated in my classroom. When it comes to communication, I feel pretty good about my system: utilizing Twitter and Twitter fast follow, making my Google Voice number available for my students to text me if they need anything, using my blog to update information, and sharing handouts via Google Docs. This worked for me for three years, was a lot of work, but was very reliable. However, I recently came across some new online resources that can make my communication even better.

Remind101 is a great texting service that is free for teachers. For any designated group, you get a unique phone number that kids can text. Kids are then prompted to reply with their name so you can see all fo the individuals who are logged into your account. This way, I know exactly who is accessing the texts I send out. I see a lot of freedom with this software. First, I can create multiple groups – one for each class to start. As an activity director, I see creating a group for the school, possibly for parents, for my freshman mentors as well as my leadership students. I can send secret messages such as “If you get this message report to the cafe’. The first five people there get a free shirt”, or “Mentors, give every freshman in your group a high five.”  This allows me access to students on the one item they are pretty much guaranteed to have on them at any time of the day. What’s more, remind101 allows you to schedule text messages so they can go out any time you want. I can time messages to appear at the start of class, end of class, passing period, after school or before school. I use Hootsuite for all of my Twitter updates. Now, while I will still use Twitter, I see Remind101 taking on a whole side of communication as it has the potential to reach a much wider audience.

My next new favorite is Wiggio. Someone mentioned this at a conference I was just at, and I filed it away as Wiggio was described as a mass texting application. When I logged in to the account, I learned it was so much more, the features are abundant.  I was able to enter my students’ email addresses and names right off the bat and invite them to the site. Keep in mind, this site is private, so only myself and my students can see this information. Students can also add cell phone numbers and they have the option of getting sms updates without anyone in the group seeing their number (same for me, the teacher). In Wiggio, I can invite people to meetings, establish groups with smaller members of the main group, assign tasks (and set reminders via email or sms), share documents or even create them directly on the site. I can also share links, important as we are using a lot of items from other sites like Google Docs or Evernote; or there may be a video I would like them to watch before coming to class.

As an activities director, I am noticing more and more that my students are walking a fine line between being organized with a binder and being organized with their phone. In general, teens are disorganized with both except for a select few that teachers often refer to as their favorites. With Wiggio, I see the ability to communicate beyond just the planning sheets or post-it notes on the wall that declare something as being “do”, “doing”, or “done”. I like that it can text kids reminders, I am a big believer that if it has to do with a student’s cell phone they are more likely to do it than when they have to remember to look at a calendar. Every time I add a task, meeting, document or other item it appears in a calendar on the site and color codes it so we can differentiate between the items. I pull it up and on any given day I can see if something was done, not done or is due soon. This I can put up daily for the class to see so I know if we are on task.

Lastly, I like that in Wiggio I can create a chatroom for the kids to discuss items far away from Facebook. I like Facebook, it’s a good tool, but too many times the conversations get out of control and too many times we have read something about teacher/student interaction on Facebook. So, let’s keep it in the class here. I also enjoy the ability to set-up to do lists, and my new favorite, my ability to take a poll. We sometimes spend so much time in class discussing issues – most of which I feel is a waste of time in that it wastes class time. A quick poll online can solve a lot of those issues.

While I will still be using Twitter, Google Voice and Facebook to communicate, I will be adding Wiggio and Remind101. My philosophy with communication, hit kids where they are at. I use all of these services because I have a great chance of finding all of my students on some level. Now, I don’t always post the same content to each site, but I do post to each site as needed. I am excited at the possibilities these apps offer to my teaching and I look forward to seeing how they integrate with my classroom management style. What are your thoughts?

YouTube You can Use

17 Mar

In building classroom community you can do very well by creating a shared experience. If you are daring, it’s a trip to the Tolerance Museum or listening to a speaker. An ice breaker, game, or a rock,paper or scissors tournament is another way to have your kids find a common ground to connect. I recently came across a new one that I would not have ever thought of that my students love, Just Dance. While looking at a video on YouTube, my kids asked if we look up the song “Take on Me” from Just Dance 3. Within five minutes I had thirty leadership students dancing to the 80’s classic; they were laughing, smiling and having a great time.

Continue reading