By Tara Spitzer-List
As teachers in a technology-rich world, the days of paper ‘agendas’ or day planners are almost gone, and many of us are using cell phones, iPads, or laptops to organize ourselves. Our students operate the same way, and we can use this to our advantage in the classroom.
Remind101 and Celly both are free services that allow you to send free text message reminders or announcements to a group of people. In both cases, you can hand out a letter or handout (provided by the website, or customizable by you) that gives students directions to text to a certain number, or email an address, with a code, that ‘assigns’ them to your class. They then show up on your list (without either of your revealing your cell phone numbers). You can send out reminders for upcoming tests, homework, etc.
For Remind101, the signup is very simple, (as outlined above), and can be done by cell phone or email. The messages can then be sent out only to the whole list, or a sublist (of a smaller group of people). The messages are one-way (students can’t reply), but it is simple, straightforward, and almost foolproof!
Celly gives more options. In the celly signup, users are also asked to pick a username, and reply back to confirm their sign up. Students can sign up and get notifications through an app, text messaging, or email. The messages can be sent to the whole group, or to individual users. Users can then reply, and users can send messages. You can choose the settings so that a reply goes to the whole group, only to you, or to the rest of the group with approval.
Whichever you choose, both tools can help with parent communication, student homework completion and other reminders.
Messages can be scheduled ahead of time, so it only takes a few minutes of your time to sit down and schedule the week’s messages. My students have found it very useful, and I have been surprised by the students who have come in later in the year asking for the sign up information again, because they changed phones and want to sign back up. If you are in a school where students can have their cell phones in school, do the sign up one day in class! They will love that you are letting them use their phones in class, and you will know that means they are receiving homework reminders.