Tag Archives: apps

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?

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iPad App Awareness

14 Jun

I recently had a great opportunity to participate in an iPad institute at the San Joaquin County Office of Education. Moving past the basic commands like zooming in on text, copy and paste, or adding and removing apps, it is the sharing of apps and their use that I find the most helpful. I’ve been on iPad for about two years, but I am amazed at what I can continue to learn with a little insight. So, with good intentions, here is the beginning of my list of favorite iPad apps.

1. iBooks: In the beginning I did not like this app at all, I was all about the Kindle. However, over time, I found that iBooks had features that Kindle and other apps did not. Most books we read in English can be found online as PDF’s or in iBooks as free downloads, for example, The Scarlet Letter. On the iPad or in an iTouch, kids can highlight and annotate text directly in iBooks. I can assign a chapter in class, have kids annotate where they have questions, make connections or analyze a plot point or character interaction. Then, either at the end of class or the next day, I can choose a device at random and place it under my document camera. As a class, we can view the notes, offer feedback and see what other comments students may have made or could have made. Lastly, check out the CK-12 Foundation, they have many free textbooks for download in iBooks.

2. Qwiki: whatever you want to learn in your area or someplace you are traveling, there is Qwiki. A great app to learn about a region or just to see what is going on in your area. You could also research an area that has to do with a book or subject you are currently studying. The app offers video and text and is highly engaging.

3. Flipboard: this app allows you to interact with news sources and social media sites online just like they are a magazine. Flipboard is a news aggregator that goes out on the web and pulls information via an RSS feed and brings the information to you. Not sure what an RSS feed is or how it works, don’t worry, just think of the publications you like to read like O Magazine, Ted Talks, CNN and such. You just tell Flipboard you like those information sources and it brings you the information for free. You can also tell Flipboard to access your social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. As an assignment, give your students a current event assignment to research or have them compare news stories from different media outlets like Huffington Post or Fox News.

4. Inkling: Many text books companies are going digital, and Inkling is helping to make that possible. The App is free, and many of the text books that are offered have free chapters for you to use and experiment with in your classroom prior to purchasing.

5. Shakespeare in Bits Romeo and Juliet: a great app for teaching about the Bard (the lite version is free). This app is great in that it offers definitions in the text, video and audio for student involvement. Students can also access character bios or a character relationship chart to see how the different characters in the play are related.

6. iTunes U: There are literally thousands of podcasts from various colleges and universities across the globe. There are also great resources from high school teachers in just about any subject you are looking for. Find some podcasts you like or have your students go out and search for podcasts they feel will enhance the learning experience for the specific subject you are working on in class. What a great way to get the kids thinking critically about the subject matter and and making connections to different media. Also, check the podcasts carefully as many come with downloadable written content as supplements to the audio/video podcast. don’t forget about the Khan Academy, thousands of videos on multiple subjects to for kids to access, practice and learn at their own rate.

7. Skype: a great tool to connect with classes, students or professionals anywhere in the globe. Check out education.Skype.com for a list of classes looking to have a conversation. This is a great way to practice language with native speakers or learn about other cultures. If calling a school in another country is too much, why not Skype with a class across the hall or another school in town for some great collaboration.

8. Dragon Dictation: a great app to practice speaking. Dictation software has come a long way the last few years and continues to improve. Dragon is great in that students can record what they say and have it transcribed directly on the iPad or iTouch. This is great practice for language learners or anyone preparing to do a presentation or speech.

9. Evernote: By far one of my favorite apps for note taking. You can organize notes by unit and create notebooks, great for research as students collect sources, and you can add pictures, links screen shots, video and audio right in the note. Notes and notebooks are easily shared between parties. Since Evernote is stored on the cloud, wherever you have wireless access and you have the Evernote app/software installed, your notes will be there. For more on Evernote, you can check out my previous post here https://soberandsaucy.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/my-top-10-uses-with-evernote/

10. Evernote Peek: fairly new and a great companion to Evernote, Evernote Peek is a flash card tool for the iPad. It takes advantage of your magnetic cover, so you can see the clue, but you have to figure out the answer. The title of your note in Evernote is the clue, the subject area is your answer. So, in Evernote, create a notebook for whatever you want to study: anatomy vocab, math formulas, literary characters … anything worth memorizing.

11. Dropbox: One of the best way to store large files on the cloud rather than your iPad. Memory is at a premium, so store those files on your Dropbox account and not your iPad. Dropbox is also a great way to share files with others: handouts, videos, pictures, or anything else.

12. Library of Congress: what a great way to give kids an opportunities to evaluate and research using primary source documents. This app offers high resolution examples of many historical documents not usually accessible to the public.

These are the few of the apps I have been playing with over the last few days. I have many more to review and share and I’m excited to see what I can do with them. If you have any apps you like to use please feel free to share. I will be adding more over the next few days and beyond.