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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three Questions to Consider Before Flipping Your Classroom

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

Pedro Moura Pinheiro on Flickr
It seems like you can't open an education periodical these days without finding an article espousing the wonders of flipping the classroom. Like most initiatives in schools, flipping the classroom does have merit in the right situation. But also like most initiatives it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are three questions that I have to ask before flipping a classroom.

1. Do the majority of your students complete their homework assignments on time on a consistent basis? If not, there may be a larger issue of student engagement and motivation to investigate. Furthermore, if you flip the classroom and students come to class having not watched the video lessons, how do you spend your classroom time the next day? Do you let students watch the videos in class? Do you reteach the lesson that they should have watched for homework?

2. Do all of your students have access to the web at home? If not, how are you going to address that? Will you distribute copies of your video files to students before they leave your classroom? Do you all of your students have computers or tablets to use at home? If the answer is "no" to one or all of these questions, are you setting up an inequitable learning environment?

3. Do you have time to create quality videos? If not, will you create some and then source the rest of from the web?

For the record, I'm not against flipping the classroom in the right situation. I just don't want to rush into a model that might not be the best solution for all situations.

Quickly Find Definitions and Related Websites With Snapify

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

Snapify is a handy little Chrome extension that I've shown to live audiences twice in the last two days. Both times I showed how it works I heard some "oohs and ahs." Snapify allows you to highlight any word or phrase on a webpage and quickly find definitions, videos, Tweets, and webpages about that word or phrase. See it in action in the video below.

Applications for Education
Snapify could be a great little tool for students to use when they're reading articles online. Anytime students come to a word or phrase that they don't understand they can simply highlight it and click "snap it" to find definition or explanation.

How to Print Posters With a Standard Printer

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

I often run across infographics that could be great posters to hang in a classroom if only there was an easy way to print them poster-sized. Most teachers don't have ready access to printers that can handle poster-sized paper, but do have access to standard letter-size printers. Thanks to a recent blog post by Joyce Valenza I have discovered a way that you can print posters using a standard inkjet or laser printer.

Block Posters is a web-based tool to which you can upload a high quality graphic then divide it into letter-sized chunks for printing. Print out each section and put them together on a poster board to make your own poster.

Applications for Education
If you find a great infographic like this one about our solar system that you want to display in your classroom, Block Posters could be a great tool for you to use. Want to create a giant jigsaw puzzle? Block Posters could be useful for that. Or if you have students create their own infographics that they want to display, print them out with Block Posters. Speaking of creating infographics, click here and here to learn about a couple of tools for creating infographics.

7 Ways to Send Group Texts to Parents and Students

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012. 

People, particularly teenagers, have an almost compulsive reaction to open text messages when their phones beep or buzz. So if you want to quickly deliver an important message to student or parent today, sending a text message is the best way to do it. Managing a list of cell phone numbers can be a daunting task. Here are seven services that educators can use to easily send and manage group text messages.

Class Parrot is a service that enables teachers to send text messages to groups of students and parents. Using Class Parrot teachers send text messages from their computers. Class Parrot keeps the students' and parents' phone numbers private. Here's how Class Parrot works; teachers create a different group messaging program for each class that they teach. Each group that a teacher creates is assigned a unique opt-in code. Teachers give that code to students and parents. Then if a student or parent would like to receive messages from the teacher, they can simply opt-in by texting the opt-in code to Class Parrot.


Class Pager is another service that teachers can use to send group text messages to their students. Using Class Pager teachers can send text messages to their students without either party seeing each other's real cell phone number. To get started using Class Pager, register yourself on the site. Class Pager will then provide you with an enrollment code to share with your students and their parents. When a student or parent sends a text to Class Pager with that code, he/she will be added to your roster. Then when you write a text message it will be sent to everyone who has opted into the service. A couple of fine print things to consider about Class Pager. Class Pager is free for your first class. Additional classes are available for a fee. You should also bear in mind that if your students don't have unlimited incoming text message plans, they could incur charges.

gText is a new service offering free group text messaging. A neat piece of information about gText is that it was developed by a high school student. gText allows you to send text messages to groups that you have created in your gText account. Your texts can be sent from your phone or from your computer. By default gText keeps group members' phone numbers private. Group members who want other group members to see their numbers can allow that. Beyond simple text messaging gText offers options for sharing files (although that could consume a lot of space on a phone), sharing images, and sharing calendars.

Kikutext is a service for keeping parents informed about your classroom and or school through text messages. The service is an opt-in service for parents. When you create a Kikutext account you're assigned an opt-in code to distribute to parents. Parents then send that code in a text message to register to receive messages from you. Kikutext keeps the phone numbers of parents and those of teachers and principals hidden from each other.

SendHub is the latest group text messaging system that I've discovered. To use SendHub give people the opt-in code to join your contact list. Once people opt-in you can put them into a group within your account. Then when you have a message for a group you can send it out to all members of that group without sending the message to your entire contact database.

WeTxt offers free group text messaging. WeTxt works with ten major cellular service providers to offer you the ability to send text messages to large groups at once. In addition to creating and sending initial messages, WeTxt offers an option for sending "reply all" messages. Messages can be sent from your mobile device or from your email account. A mobile calendar helps you keep track of items that you need to send out as text messages.

Remind 101 allows you to send text messages to groups of students and or parents from your computer. Like most of the other services in this list, Remind 101 uses an opt-in system. Students and parents who want to receive messages have to enter a code to sign up to receive messages.

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