By Christine Garland
You wake up. It’s cloudy. The birds of fairytales are not outside the window greeting the day. And oh yeah, you broke up with your boyfriend, you’re parents are separating and you’ve got a test you didn’t study for. Happy Monday.
Despite these Monday morning odds, would motivation from a friend help you get out of bed?
Jeff Davis, Title 1 attendance interventionist at Hoffman Estates High School, which is just outside Chicago, thinks so.
Davis, who used to work for the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Tribune, uses Remind101 to get kids with truancy problems out of bed and into school.
“Our truancy numbers have gone down by 20 percent in the last year,” Davis said. “It’s due to a number of things the school is doing and I’m just trying to do my part.”
Davis brings students who struggle with attendance into his office and explains — among other ways of getting to class — how Remind101can help get them to school in the morning. As Davis will tell you, getting the students to school is the hard part. Once they’re there, they tend to stay.
Davis has worked out a pretty solid system for getting his students to class. On Mondays, he sends a motivational message. On Wednesdays, he encourages his students to walk over hump day and on Fridays, he gives them one last boost to get them to the weekend. Often times the Friday text says, “Only a few more hours until the weekend!”
“I hope that when they see the reminder, they remember the conversations we’ve had and the goals we’ve set and they act on it,” Davis said. “With these kids you really have to go day by day. Let’s focus on getting up on Monday. Then getting through Wednesday and then heading into the weekend.”
He sends three text messages that serve as alarms for his kids. The first goes out at 5:45 a.m., the second at 6:15 a.m., the third at 6:30 a.m. Some students sign up for all three. Others find the most annoying ring tone they can for Davis’s Remind101 number and put the phone across the room so they literally have to get up if they want it to stop.
“A lot of our truancy problems are a motivation problem,” Davis said. “I am a huge proponent of Remind101. I have more than 60 students using it now and it’s definitely made an impact on them. Not all of them give feedback, but there have a been a couple of students this year who have come in to my office to say ‘thanks for starting my day out on a good foot.”
A year ago, Texas district administrator Jay Sonnenburg introduced one of the country’s leading Bring Your Device (BYOD) school districts to Remind101. Why? Because he thought it would be the most effective tool for connecting teachers, parents and students.
Soon, coaches, choir teachers and drama coaches throughout Katy ISD’s 55 schools were texting reminders about homework, practice schedules and school closures.
We asked Sonnenburg a few questions about how he uses Remind101. Here’s what he had to say.
Q. How do you use Remind101?
A. My job is to promote Remind101, but I see it used in several different ways. Teachers send out messages and reminders about homework, classroom activities and curriculum. Admin and principals use it for a number of different things. For example, with our elementary parents, if rainy days or inclement weather mean pickups will be altered in any way, they can send the message to the parents who are often already outside waiting in the car.
Q. How has Remind101 improved teacher/student, parent/teacher communication?
A. It definitely improves that communication because it’s timely. You’re not confined to communicating during school hours or when people have access to email or Internet. Most people have a cell phone and text messaging these days. Remind101 makes communication faster and more effective because people definitely check text messages.
Q. Have any of your teachers used Remind101 in a unique way?
A. One of the teachers had a rambunctious class that was talkative. She was home sick one day and texted her class during class time and told them they needed to be quiet and pay attention to the substitute. She knew they would all have their phones in their pockets and that they’d be checking messages. That was funny.
Q. Have you received much resistance from teachers, parents, or coaches?
A. No, not at all. The first questions always are: ‘Are you sure it’s safe? Are you I don’t have to share my cell phone with parents or kids?’ But once the teachers or coaches realize how it works, they’re very happy to adopt it.
Q. What are parents saying about Remind101?
A. At parent meetings they’ve commented on how the teachers communicate with the through text and they like it. Parents like to know what’s going on and any way we can get to them is great.
By Brett Kopf
With only eight percent of high school students getting enough sleep every night, it’s no wonder early alarms turn into a succession of snoozes, which often lead to absenteeism.
Hoffman Estates High School junior Nancy Camacho is one of many students who’s chosen sleep over her alarm.
“I definitely have trouble getting up in the morning,” Camacho said.
This year, among Camacho’s pack of school registration papers, was a blurb about Remind101. In that blurb, the school offered to send students like Camacho texts at 6:15 a.m., 6:30 a.m., or 6:45 a.m. nudging them to get up and out of bed.
“I used to come in late like once a week,” Camacho said. “Now I’m late like once a month.”
Camacho, of course, could use an alarm, but the texts are a call to action.
“The texts work because they go directly to me,” Camacho said. “My phone vibrates so I literally have to look at it.”
Camacho also likes the context of the texts, which, thanks to Title 1 Attendance Interventionist Jeffery Davis, offer little motivations. Sometimes Davis encourages students to finish the week strong, sometimes he reminds them about a school activity, such as an assembly, that might encourage them to get to school.
“Getting to pick the time you get the text is helpful but so are the things he says, like hey it’s Friday, make the day work,” Camacho said.
Camacho’s summer school teacher also used Remind101 to update students about deadlines or changes to the day’s homework. Her speech team advisor uses it to send updates to students about meetings, or when a bus is scheduled to leave for a competition.
Camacho’s been exposed to many different ways to use Remind101 (the school’s French and environmental clubs also use it), but she has ideas of her own.
“I think a teacher could try to implement Remind101 as extra credit,” Camacho said.
Camacho suggests that if a teacher is running a game or competition, he or she could send hints to the students via Remind101. Now, why didn’t we think of that?
By Christine Garland
Teachers, coaches and administrator find all kinds of different uses for Remind101. As the school year grinds on, they increasingly use Remind101 as a motivational tool. Here’s how to use Remind101 to motivate.
Whether it’s the night before the big game or a little encouragement the morning after losing, Remind101 can boost team spirit. Why not break down that motivational speech you had planned for the locker room into a few bite sized pieces? Send a sentence in the morning to get the team moving and one to get them excited in the afternoon.
Teachers encourage students, but who encourages teachers? Admins of course. If you sense a little lull in positivity or your staff just had a particularly difficult meeting, send a text thanking them for their hard work. Or, if the mood suits, add a little humor to your motivation. Pinterest, blogs and other sites have plenty of fun things you can send to your staff.
Counselors often spend more time with kids who are struggling than any other educator. This presents the perfect opportunity to motivate. Texting before school to encourage kids to get up and out the door and texting after school once they’ve finished the day are a great way to reinforce good behavior.
Sending motivational messages to kids prepping for the SAT or ACT is also helpful. As the school year gets to May, Remind101 teachers are often sending encouraging messages to get kids ready for big tests.
Don’t just remind the kids about a test, motivate them! Send a text letting them know you have complete confidence in their abilities. Or, if it’s a particular drudgery (state testing) let them know that when they’re done, they’ll get a little surprise.
Some of our teachers send motivational texts when they have a sub — a little nudge for the kids to remember their manners and keep on task.
Some of our teachers even send motivational texts during class. This, of course, is a personal preference.
Download an app such as Inspirational and Motivational Quotes, Motivational Quote for Success and 505 Motivational Quotes. These apps daily sayings to your phone and may be helpful if you get thumb tied.
Other ideas on how to motivate your students? Post a comment on the blog or on our Facebook page!
By Brett Kopf
Dr. Kathryn Cook, professor at Georgian College in Canada, knew her college was great at attracting students, but needed some improvement when it came to student retention.
After coming across Remind101 on Twitter, Cook brought the tool into her classroom.
“I haven’t done any official research, but Remind101 does help with retention,” Cook said.
Cook teaches two online courses — Understanding the Web and Understanding Science. She can monitor her students’ progress through the classroom content management system, which allows her to see when students miss quizzes.
“After looking at who missed the quizzes, I would send an email saying, ‘if you’re having trouble remembering due dates, please sign up for Remind101,’” Cook said. “Students seemed to genuinely miss the quiz because they were overwhelmed or didn’t have a good system for keeping track. Remind101 definitely helped.”
To keep her students involved, Cook requires them to participate in four forums a semester. Halfway through the semester, she sends a Remind101 update reminding them it’s the middle of the semester and a good time for them to finish two of the four required forums.
Cook said some of her students who write longer discussions, forget to track quantity so by the end of the semester, they have three long posts instead of five total posts, which is what they need for credit.
“I’ll send them a Remind101 text that they need to make sure they learn how to search their name on the forum server,” Cook said. “So Remind101 helps me with technology reminders as well.”
Cook also offers other tech tips related to the server, which is case sensitive.
“The students are inundated in their official student email with messages from the college and I wonder how many times their eyes glaze over,” Cook said. “Remind101 goes to their cell phone which they spend 10 hours a day looking at.”
Cook said the 80 percent of her students who sign up for Remind101 finish the course.
“I see Remind101 as a retention tool and have been using it for several years,” Cook said. “It’s quick and easy and not onerous at all.”
By Aditya Bansod
The world has become an incredibly small place. How will you introduce your students to it? We’ve got some ideas. The following apps are some of the top teacher rated geography apps out there!
Shake the States
Shake the States is a colorful, simple app that teaches younger students about the geography of the US by having them place states in their proper places. But watch out! Failing to put the states in their proper place will have them crumble. Adults can also play and the game is divided into two levels.
GeoBee Challenge by National Geographic
Who better to come up with a geography app than the people who record the world through a creative lens? Developed by National Geographic, The GeoBee Challenge is a tri-level game that uses 1,000 questions and answers to teach fourth through eighth graders about geography. The interactive map and stunning photography keep students’ attention while giving them an international perspective.
U.S. Geography by Discovery Education
While a lot of state-based geography apps focus on matching, the U.S. Geography by Discovery Education is much more detailed. Students learn about the states, but they also learn about local theater, culture and U.S. regions. Current local news stories also make a cameo, helping connect the map to the modern world.
Easy Atlas and Factbook Lite
This app is easy to use and gives bite sized world facts about every country. When you choose a country, CIA gathered information about that country pops up. It’s like an encyclopedia: Great for those looking to learn a little bit about a lot.
Oh no. Evil farm animals are on the loose. The only way to save the world from annihilation is by correctly answering geography questions about 75 countries! What’s an elementary student to do? Start learning of course. This app is a consistent favorite among elementary school teachers because of its interactive gamified interface.
By Clara Galan
The home to school connection extends far beyond parent-teacher conferences and back-to-school night. Teachers need to reach out to parents to become their year-long (and perhaps even longer) partners in education. The true purpose of a partnership between parents and teachers is to build a consistent and supportive environment both in and outside of school. This consistent support helps kids build positive academic and social skills that will carry over once they leave the classroom. In order to accomplish this partnership, be sure to communicate clearly and openly with parents starting early in the school year:
Some teachers go into these conferences with rigid set expectations, while others slowly gage the parent-teacher relationship with the reminder, “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree.” It’s true that meeting a student’s parents can explain a lot about him or her. This is why it’s important to understand parents in order to understand their children. Having too rigid of expectations for parents might get you off on the wrong foot—teachers should be creating alliances, not conflicts. However, maintain a balance. Come into the conference with certain expectations and guidelines, but be open to communication and the needs of each family. Really get to know about each student’s home life. Whatever is going on at home can mirror a child’s behavior in school.
Set Homework Expectations
Make a schedule for homework and be sure to share it with parents. Preferably, do it electronically so that there isn’t the chance for students to lose the schedule on the way home. Ensure that parents are aware of long-term project due dates and assessment dates. Try to be consistent with your amount of weekly homework (with the exception of long-term projects and assessments) so that parents know what to expect. Communicate homework and time management strategies to parents and check in with them on a regular basis. One way to do this is to have students record how much time it takes them to finish their nightly homework, and check off assignments as they are completed. Ask parents to sign these homework logs, so that they can help their children manage time wisely. It may take each student a different amount of time to complete their homework, but the time management skills will be vital in the future.
Kids interact online both at school and at home. Thus, it’s important to maintain similar rules in both places that expect positive online behavior. Many younger students do not understand the permanence of their digital footprint or guidelines for online interactions. Teachers need to demonstrate and practice digital citizenship with their students so that they have a clear idea of how to use the Internet in a collaborative and educational way. Provide parents with resources and guidelines to instill positive digital citizenship and communicate clearly about their child’s online behavior. Some helpful resources to teach digital citizenship at home come from Common Sense Media: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/digital-citizenship and Edutopia: www.edutopia.org/cyberbullying-internet-digital-citizenship-resources. Online interactions amongst classmates always transfer over into the classroom. Strong parent-teacher partnerships for digital citizenship can help build your class’ community online and counter cyber bullying.
Open Communication with Tech
Stay in touch with parents and guardians through open and real-time communication. Do not wait to inform parents of their child’s behavior or academics (whether they be positive or negative) when you see them before or after school. At the beginning of the year, make sure that you have all parents’ e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers so that you can contact them and keep them in the loop. Emailing a class Friday letter once a week can also keep parents up-to-date on the next week’s assignments and events, and remind them of the schedule. In addition, create a class website where you post assignments, events and your contact information. Both students and parents can easily access the website from anywhere.
At times, it is necessary to schedule additional face-to-face conferences to discuss issues in more depth. Be sure to schedule these meetings in advance so that you have time to prep notes and brainstorm a strategic plan for the individual student. Google calendar is a great tool to share your schedule with parents and see when both sides of the partnership have availability. Follow up with parents and check in with students after these scheduled meetings to make sure that both are on board.
Most teachers have been there. You open your inbox before school to find it inundated with e-mails from concerned parents! Be sure to maintain boundaries and establish some time for yourself. Inform parents that you check your inbox and respond to e-mails and phone calls one hour before school and one hour after school (unless, of course, there is an emergency). Always respond to messages from your school e-mail address or the school phone number whenever possible. Letting parents or students have your personal phone number can open up a whole can of worms and invade your personal time and life outside of the classroom. A helpful tool for this is Remind101, which allows teachers to send text messages to parents and students from their personal cell phone as a different number specifically created for school.
Teachers have many roles to juggle, parent-teacher communication being only one of them. Ensure that you have enough time for lesson planning, student interactions, grading, and, obviously, your personal life!
As you build partnerships with parents over the school year, be sure to include students in the dialogue. Collaboration and communication from all sides; parents, teachers and students, is necessary to form a supportive school community.
By Christine Garland
“The best ideas come from the American people. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has a part to play.” - White House “Champions of Change”
On Thursday, November 21st, the White House will host 10 educators chosen for a project honoring everyday Americans doing extraordinary things in their community.
We’re so excited that a member of the Remind101 Teacher Advisory Board, and good friend, Todd Nesloney, will be one of the educators present tomorrow.
Todd is a fifth grade teacher at Fields Store Elementary in Waller, Texas. We connected with Todd about a year and half ago through Twitter. Even in 140 characters, his zest for life and enthusiasm for education were overwhelming. From first tweet to phone calls, to hanging out at conferences, we’ve been friends ever since.
Todd has made a big impact on our company, and we know we’re not the only ones who feel that way. Always energetic and full of passion, Todd spends his free time around Texas speaking at events and conferences, training teachers and schools with his co-founded The 3 Tech Ninjas training company, and connecting with his PLN. Anyone who knows Todd, and I know a lot of you do, would say he deserves this recognition 10 fold.
The event is part of the White House’s “Champions of Change” initiative in which they recognize Americans who are out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world. Every week, a group of people are invited to the White House to share their ideas to win the future.
The 10 nominated educators heading to the White House tomorrow are specifically being honored for their creative approaches in using technology to enhance learning for students in communities across the country.
Tomorrow’s event will be live streamed at 2 pm ET.
Todd - we’re so excited for you! We’ll be watching the live stream from our office in San Francisco!
You can read about all 10 of the teachers being recognized in their official press release on the event.
Want to know more about the Champions of Change project? Check it out.