#ISTE13 GEMS Series

If you were at ISTE 2013, then you were amazed by the quality of speakers, vendors, and ideas!
After listening to the final keynote speaker @adambellow, I was inspired to "be the change" that I can be. I realize that I am a little fish in the big "Ed-Tech" pond, but I do hope to make at least a ripple!

Three years ago, I began this blog with a simple idea - share free resources with as many educators that will listen. I hope this same message holds true today! Either you are still listening or I enjoy listening to myself!

Either way, I would like to launch my new July series titled #ISTE GEMS. This series I would like to share some of the best ideas that I received from you! Thank you!


#Remind101: A Safe and Secure Way to Text Students and Parents

I love asking for suggestions on story ideas because I always get the best information from you! An amazing science teacher and former colleague of mine, Jen Kieffer, sent me information about Remind101. She uses it to communicate with large groups of students and parents via a single text message. Not a bad idea in the mobile and fast-paced digital age!

This is a free site, which you can sign up as a teacher to send text messages to students and parents. Before you tune me out, the best part is that you do not have access to your student's cell phone information and they don't have access to yours!

You can use Remind 101 to send out a blanket text to any student or parent who signs up for your class. Send out homework reminders, project reminders, class events, etc. with a simple text.

How does it work? 

First you have to create a Remind 101 account by using an email address and password. Next you set up the name of your class or group. You will also be prompted to create an access code (aka password) for students to text you later.

Once you have set up a class, Remind 101 will create a special phone number (for texting purposes only). Students will need to text your special access code to this phone number. Once they have done this, they will receive a confirmation text from Remind 101 and can begin receiving texts from you.

After these simple steps, you can begin texting your entire class with just the click of a mouse!

Check out how schools are using it in the video clip below:

Have Your Students Create Temporary Webpages with #DinkyPage

Several years ago, I read Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat. It made me think about how technology and collaboration is changing the way we educate, communicate, and do business. It inspired me to create a new high school course called International Business, where the primary focus of the course was to teach about globalization and inspire collaboration. My students were asked to collaborate by creating a business idea through a Google Site. My students loved the project; however, it did pose a few frustrating logistical and technical issues.

Many of us would like for our students to create webpages, but we may lack the patience or technical knowledge necessary to create one. A few days ago, I was talking with a colleague of mine and he introduced me to a sited called Dinky Page. It is a free and easy-to-use web-based program that students can use to create basic webpages. It is very user-friendly and takes very little effort to learn.

When you create a page, you can go back and edit it at anytime simply by accessing a special editing page URL. It is suggested that you bookmark this URL or send yourself an email with the link. What if your students forget or lose their web address? Dinky Page can email you your URL by sending you an email. Best of all, you can go back and delete the page later!

If you want your students to create a basic page, this site is perfect! If you have more "advanced" students, they can also enjoy using HTML code or embedding different objects like Flash!

I am looking forward to next school year, so that I can try this! Imagine the possibilities when your students can show what they know in a creative way!

#SummerResolution Series: Twitter

I never realized the power of social networking in education until a few years ago when I joined Twitter. It is a perfect place to connect with people who share common interests, like educational technology. Many educators are skeptical to use the social network because they don't understand it; however, it has become one of my most favorite and powerful professional development tools.

This became a reality to me when I was asked to present at PETE&C this past February. Just going out on a limb, I sent out a tweet stating that I was presenting and for my followers to stop by and say hello. I never realized how many of my followers would actually do so. In fact, I made some valuable face-to-face connections with that I never would have without the help of Twitter.

How can Twitter help? 

Many of my friends think that I am really smart and know so much about educational technology; however, the truth is that I am getting all of these resources from other educators across the globe. I like to think of Twitter as my own AP news-wire, where I can receive valuable news and new technology ideas.

I also use Twitter to participate in "chats" like #edchat so that I can discuss new ideas and learn from other motivated educators. Many of these chats are open to anyone who is interested in learning more about a particular topic. It is always amazing at how much everyone brings to the table. It is also inspiring to be around so many motivated people at one time.

Finally, Twitter makes me aware of educational technology events happening across the country. Whether its an #edcamp or the TLC at the Beach conference in Myrtle Beach, I now have the possibility to attending these events because I know actually about them through my connections.


As our world flattens and our society becomes more global, it is important for educators to extend their connections beyond the confines of their school district. The changes in education and technology have connected us in new ways and tools like Twitter have made it possible to share, collaborate, and connect.

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