Back in August of 2012 I wrote a post about Remind 101. It is a great communication tool that can be used for students and parents in the classroom by supplying information via text messaging. You can read that article and learn more about the process here: Remind 101 – A Closer Look.
The great folks at Remind 101 have given their site a face-lift. A new user interface makes it even easier to use! Find below some of the highlights I find valuable. Great Job!!!
1. Your Classes: Access all your classes and create new groups from the task pane on the left. The editing options include changing the class name, changing the joining code, or removing the class altogether.
2. Subscribing: Get all the subscribing information for the highlighted class from the top frame in the right task pane. You can view the information full screen or print out or save a PDF of the information so that you can send an email or paper copy to your future members.
3. Members: View a list of your subscribers for the highlighted class from the bottom frame in the right task pane. You can click on an individual to remove them from the class or remove them all at one time.
4. Send a Message: The top frame in the middle of the page is where you create and send the text messages. A couple handy options here are the ability to send the same message to multiple classes at one time and the ability to schedule messages to be sent at at later time.
5. Managing Messages: The bottom frame in the middle of the page allows you to view and edit scheduled messages. You also have the option to view your previously sent messages.
To learn more about the updates and view a video showcasing them, visit this Remind101 blog post. Once again…love the update!
Every year our district hosts a week-long academy called INTERACT. It focuses on Marzano’s instructional strategies while also providing ways to integrate technology into the classroom and looking at 21st Century Learning Design. This year we had a total of 131 teachers join us for the week. The participants apply as teams of 2-4 from each campus in our district. They must go through an application process where they complete an individual application as well as create a team video. A winning team from each campus is chosen based on this application.
In the beginning of May we have an INTERACT Boot Camp. Participants come after school for a couple hours. Here they receive a laptop and an iPad. We do this ahead of time to get the teachers familiar with the new equipment. It also provides time for us to address any issues we may have with the equipment and lets the teachers load a list of apps and programs we provide to them that will be used during the week of INTERACT.
The first week after school lets out is when the actual week of INTERACT occurs. We run 5 days from 8:00-4:00. Lunch is provided each day so the participants are with us the entire time. It is quick moving and intense. By the end of the week everyone is exhausted, including the presenters, but we all walk away excited for the upcoming year and what it has in-store. All teams completing the entire week of INTERACT are then rewarded with a $10,000 stipend to purchase equipment for their classroom. They are also provided with an IWB if they do not already have one in their rooms.
This was year 6 of INTERACT. You would think we would have settled on a format and sequence by now, but if you know the CITS team from LCISD you will not find it hard to believe that we change, or at least alter, pretty much everything each year. We are never satisfied by what we have…we always look for improvements.
The biggest change we had this year was incorporating a Learning Activity Gallery Walk. We have always spent some of our time every year teaming teachers together to create a “new” learning activity they can take back to their classroom to use the next year. They decide what the activity is and what technology to include where appropriate. We have never seen a commitment to this in past years. Since this is right at the end of the school year it was difficult for teachers to be motivated to “write more lesson plans”. I was hesitant to incorporate the gallery walk for fear it would fall flat on its face.
I have never been so proud to admit I was wrong! I guess having the participants know that they will be presenting to many other teachers lit a fire under them. The walk was a HUGE success! There were so many great ideas being shared in that room I did not have enough time to visit even a fourth of them! We then uploaded all the activities to a Skydrive folder so everyone can access them and use/tweak them for their classrooms.
Throughout the academy I was amazed at how committed our teachers were to taking a chance. They “sold out” for the entire week. We were gaming, hunting, and creating…yet nobody stayed on the sideline. They all jumped in and ran with whatever we threw at them.
It is weeks like this that remind me yet again why I love my job. I am re-energized to get next year going already! Don’t worry though…I still plan on taking the summer off!
During the #txed Twitter chat last Wednesday night we were challenged to write about our highs and lows during this school year. With all that happened throughout the year, what memories carry the most weight? Here’s my list.
- #txed chats- I look forward to it every Wednesday. It lifts my spirits and fills me with passion to go out and push for greatness each week.
- TCEA- Getting the chance to meet many Tweeps face to face was amazing. It makes the chats seem even more powerful.
- EdCampWaller- My first edcamp experience was great…highlighted by leading a discussion with @RafranzDavis.
- Missing the Google Summit- It was in my backyard but just not possible to get to.
- Missing #iste2013- Family comes first, but it would have been great to meet up with all my Tweeps again.
For the school year and the work done in my district and on my campuses, I experienced a lot of highs this year. Watching teachers who fought to NOT have an IWB placed in their rooms now brag about what they are doing with it and can’t seem to function if it isn’t working properly. I had a lot of teachers step out of their comfort zone to try new things, and most were very successful. They are starting to see a difference in their class culture and in student understanding.
I also experienced a few lows. My biggest low came with training. I had a plan coming into the year to give trainings on my campuses more often and tailor to the needs of specific teachers. That failed miserably very early in the year. We started with a schedule but the schedule quickly changed. Obligations both for the teachers and myself caused many postponements and cancellations until I gave in to the fact that it just wouldn’t work the way it needs to. It is back to the drawing board to figure out a new plan of attack.
My personal/professional high has been this blog. I set out to with a plan to post one time a week and I have stuck to it. I have seen my number of hits grow. I feel this is another way for me to reach more educators. This in turn helps me reach more students, which is what it should always be about.
That wraps up my highs and lows. Closing this chapter and getting ready to start another one for next year!
I (actually my kids more than me) have been using the Pixlr Express Chrome app for some time and really love it. Pixlr Express is a photo editing app. It is straight forward and very easy to manipulate. There are tons of options and effects at your fingertips. My 9 year old was a “master” after about 5 minutes of discovery. What she ends up with is amazing. I was VERY happy to see that there is an iOS app from them as well…and it is FREE!
Pixlr Express PLUS is an iOS app designed for both the iPhone and the iPad. It is great for students (and adults) of all ages. You can very quickly edit images to use for other projects or share.
From the main screen, take a picture with your device or choose one from your camera roll.
The image will open and display your editing options. You have 6 buttons at the bottom to work with. Each of those buttons will open to reveal even more choices. Besides your normal editing options (adjustment) such as crop, rotate, and red-eye removal you are able to add effects, overlays, borders, text, and stickers. As I said earlier, it is quick and easy…unless you are like me and have to click on every option just to see what it does!
When you are done creating your masterpiece, use the share option in the upper right-hand corner. You first choose the size you want to the image to be. You can select from suggestions they give you or customize the size to fit your needs. Once the image size is determined, you have the ability to email the photo, share through Twitter, or save to your camera roll where you can access for other project needs.
After downloading the app, in my first real attempt I was able to go from this…
…to this in just a few minutes. Fun, quick, easy!