Remind 101 - Monday Tech Minute [6/23/14]

Communication is important. Really important. On a scale of one to ten, communication comes in at around a seventy-two. Like many other teachers out there, I put a lot of importance on building relationships with students. The lack of relationships I built my first two years is largely what made life miserable. A lot of that came down to bad communication.*

*And a lot of it came down to being a new teacher. Let me take a moment again to reminisce over all the ways that being a first year teacher is terrible...OK. Moving on. 

Finding ways to communicate outside of the class walls is becoming easier each day. One tool that I played with last year and will be trying out in full force next year is Remind 101. It is a text messaging service that allows you to text a group (of students and parents in my case) from your computer without you ever knowing their cell numbers and without them ever knowing yours. 

Here are three quick reasons to check out Remind 101:

1. Anonymous and Secure
This is everyone's (legitimate) worry when you mix students, teachers and cell phone numbers. Teachers rightly don't want to know the kids numbers and they don't want the kids to know their numbers. Remind 101 fixes this issue by using an online server to manage all of the numbers. When you create a class, like my US Government course, Remind 101 creates a unique handle - @usgov141. You can change this to something easier to remember if you want. Remind 101 provides a phone number that students can text to register for the group. You can also easily sign up on a computer.  

2. Sending Messages is Easy
The screenshot below is the message screen for Remind 101 when you want to send a message out to one or more groups. 

Select the class you'd like to communicate with and you have 140 characters to work with. There is a 'schedule later' feature also. You could schedule a reminder before you leave school that will be sent out at 9 PM. It only takes a few seconds and a few clicks of the mouse. 

There is also a widget that you can use if you keep a class website. You can embed the widget in your page so that any message you send via Remind 101 also pops up in a stream on your website.

3. Student Accountability
When you send a message, it comes through as a text like this one:
Again, I love the security. If the student tries to reply, they get a friendly message from Remind 101 that there is no actual number to reply to! I'm also a big fan of taking away excuses whenever possible. I can't count the times that I've conferenced with a student and heard an excuse start with, "Well I didn't know/remember..." I'm not naive enough to think that excuses and missed assignments will ever go away. I do think that Remind 101 will greatly increase the accountability of my students with a very little amount of effort from my end. That makes it worth a try.

Check back in next Monday for another new piece of #edtech to try out in your classroom!

How do you communicate with your class? Have you used Remind 101? Share your story below!

Love it? Hate it? Leave your thoughts below and let's talk about it!
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