Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Communication is as easy as 1-0-1 (Remind101 that is!)

Joseph Priestly said, "The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate." I would assume, then, that we would communicate more if the means of communication is easy, free and safe.....ENTER Remind101

Remind 101 is exactly that - an easy to use, FREE and safe service that allows for one-way communication via text message or email. (In other words, teachers can send out messages, but they can't receive reply messages.) Also, no phone numbers or email address are exchanged in the sign up process. Teachers only see the NAME of the users signed up!

Sign up for teachers takes merely minutes and signing up for parents and students takes merely seconds! Click this link to get your own Remind101 account! There are several tutorials on YouTube about setting up anaccount.

Last year I only used Remind101 for a few weeks, but I really enjoyed knowing that I could communicate with my students and their parents in a quick and easy manner. Here are 5 Quick Tips when using Remind101.

1.) Try to get 100% participation, but you can't make people subscribe! Just remember who is not receiving the messages that you send out! Also, you may want to try to have parents set up their account during Open House. You can have the directions projected or pass out paper copies. This way, you can explain how you plan to use Remind101 and get as many parents/students on board before the first day of school!

2.) Just like everything in education: You can differentiate your messages by setting up more than one 'class.' When reading some of my ideas below you may not want EVERYONE to get EVERY messages. This is just an idea though. I had all my students/parents in one class and it worked just fine. Different classes works especially well if your classes have different homework assignments, etc.

3.) Like anything, don't overuse this great tool! You don't want to upset parents by sending out TOO many reminders.  After I started Remind101, I wanted to send out reminders all the time. I did try to limit myself, and I received great feedback from both students and parents. The only drawback for one parent is that she said she was charged for text messages and felt I texted a little too much. (Standard text messaging rates apply.) I don't remember sharing how to 'opt out' of the service, so be sure you share this with the parents. Here's the link to Remind101's opt out directions.

4.) Also, you may want to let parents know approximately how many times per week you plan on sending reminders. Once a week? Once a day? Approximately 10 reminders a week? You many not know this answer until you start using it, but you may want to set a limit for yourself so you don't overuse it.

5.) You can set reminders to be sent in the future. However, when doing this be sure to pay attention to AM/PM and the time that you set. Nothing would upset your students and their parents more than  receiving a text about homework at 5:30a.m. instead of 5:30p.m.

Now onto some typical and unique ideas of how to use Remind101 in the classroom.

After School Reminders:  *I typically would send out text messages after school within 2 hours of dismissal.

1.) Send reminders about homework or homework changes. ("Please complete the circumference tutorial on Sophia. Don't forget to leave a comment!")
2.) Send reminders about project deadlines.  ("Science Fair project is due on March 15. Keep working hard! I'm excited to see your project!")
3.) Send reminders about special papers that were sent home.  ("Don't forget to see the special message sent home today! Our school is in for a treat!")
4.) Send reminders about after school events ("Good luck to all students participating in the Drama Club performance! Hope you'll be able to come!")
5.) Send enticing reminders helping to start parent/student communication! ("Students, did you tell your parents about today's 'hairy' science class?")
6.) Send reminders about field trips. ("We will return from tomorrow's field trip by 3:30. Please remember to pack a lunch if you didn't pre-order one.")

Morning Reminders *I would only text 30 minutes prior to the school's start time.

1.) Send intriguing messages to get kids excited to come to school! ("What do water, a catapult, balloons and chalk all have in common? Find out today in math class!")
2.) Send 'mysterious' messages. I used this method the morning of Mystery Skype calls. If you don't know what Mystery Skype calls are you can read about Skype in The Classroom and Mystery Skype here. ("A mysterious location awaits our call. Where will we travel to today?")
3.) Send last minute messages.  ("Field Day has been postponed because of the rain! No need to wear your class shirt!")
4.) Send last minute requests. ("Do you have extra magazines you can donate? Bring them to class today!")
5.) Send good luck messages! ("Good luck today on the OAA test! Relax and try your best! We're all proud of you!)
6.) Send congratulatory messages! My favorite message this year was congratulating the students the morning of the last day. ("Students: This is it! You've made it to the last day. It sure has been a joy teaching you! I'm very proud of how much you've grown this year!")

Other uses:
1.) Send out random/interesting facts or questions dealing with your subject area. (Again, you may want to create a separate class for these types of messages.) ("Be on the look out for today's full moon! We've been waiting all month to see it!")

2.) Make up a game or competition! Give hints or clues via Remind101 messages. I plan on sending out similar messages to the ones below before I teach an important lesson on Bald Eagles:
Day 1 - "This animal is found near large bodies of open water."
Day 2 - "This animal weighs from seven to ten pounds and measures 3 feet from head to tail."
Day 3 - "This animal's lifespan is 20-30 years in the wild."
Day 4 - "This animal has a wingspan of about 7 feet."
Day 5 - "This animal is the national bird of the United States."

3.) Use it on the school level #1- Parents and students can sign up to get messages from administrators.  ("Thank you to all those who attended our Choir Concert! Great work 6th grade students!")
4.) Use it on the school level #2- Create a class of just teachers - Send out meeting reminders, etc. ("Don't forget tomorrow's staff meeting starts at 7:45 in Room 203.")

Remind101 is billed as a communication tool, but be creative with it! Use it to increase excitement of both your students and their parents! And, just one last thought:

Lesson #22: Communication leads to community. -Rollo May

Help build your community with the easiest communication tool out there!
It's as easy as 1-0-1  - Remind101 this is!

What are some ways you plan on using Remind101 next year? Please add to the list of tips or uses above by leaving a comment or contacting me on Twitter (@ArinKress)

Thanks for reading!


  1. I love these ideas! I just signed up for Remind101 to use this year, but it never occurred to me to use it to get the kids psyched about upcoming lessons or to give parents questions to ask their kids to find out what we did in class. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Thanks for writing about us and using Remind101! Let me know if you have any questions,

    -Brett Kopf, cofounder

  3. thinkingteachingcreating - Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you found the ideas useful!

    Brett- Thanks for creating such an amazing product and for the comment!