Monday, October 24, 2011

ClassParrot - Open the lines of communication!

I recently came upon a web-based tool called ClassParrot. This site offers teachers, students, and parents a way to safely communicate about upcoming events and offer reminders without exchanging phone numbers.

All you have to do is sign up your class(es). When you do so, you get a unique number and code that you then share with whomever you would like to receive the alerts. The student (parent, etc.) then texts that number with the unique code to sign up for text alerts from that class.

According to the website, only 22% of emails are opened vs. 98% of texts. All texts sent by you (the teacher) are broadcast to all subscribers of your class. Students may reply to your text, thus opening up two-way communication.

Before you start worrying about keeping track of a bunch of phone numbers (or students having your personal number), stop worrying. Teachers, students, and parents can never see each other's phone numbers. On the teacher side of the deal, all texts sent and received are through the website.

Now for the questions I'm sure is on all of your minds. Price. Teachers receive 500 credits (messages) for free. Every month ClassParrot gives you 200 more credits. There are pay plans, which are very affordable if you don't think that is enough credits for your needs.

And I am here to offer you a great deal (OK...the deal is really from ClassParrot, not me). If you would like to sign up with ClassParrot & accept my invitation (click the linky!), then you will not only receive the 500 free credits, you will also receive 200 bonus credits (as will I!).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

edCamp Detroit

Today I attended edcamp Detroit at Wayne State University. This is going to be a short post, just a quick reflection so I don't forget some of what I thought about on the way home.

Twitter is a GREAT tool. Not only is it a great way to network and "farm" for ideas, but it was a very useful bookmarking tool for all of the great sites that were shared today. Even if I wasn't in a session, somebody else from another session tweeted a link and I was able to retweet, thus saving it for later.

Why would I save it later and just not check it our at that moment? Well...unlike almost EVERYBODY there, I didn't have a netbook, tablet, iPad, iPhone, or Android phone. I don't like to say I am envious, but in this case I think the green eyed monster reared it's ugly head.

There were some very good presentations there. That being said, I think my co-worker, Sue, is right. I need to jump full force on the PD bandwagon.

Lots of great information gathered, and lots of good networking happened today. Nov. 5 is the Grand Rapids edcamp. I do plan on attending.

What I felt the best about today was all of us gathered together of our own free will with no monetary incentive. All we wanted out of the day was to learn from our peers. The attitude of the participants was refreshing - it was obvious this was a group of teachers that believe in our profession. We believe we can make a difference, we believe there are new things to learn and we're not afraid to seek out that information. All in all, it was a great day - thanks to all involved!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Twitter PLN

I have become involved in developing a Personal Learning Network on Twitter. It has been a source of inspiration, entertainment, opportunities to share, and ideas to implement in my classroom.

One night a couple of weeks ago a colleague on twitter asked people to collaborate on a google doc with their twitter handle.

I was pretty early in to view the doc. It was amazing. The growth within the first ten minutes was truly mind-blowing. The next morning I checked the document to see if there were any new additions. Not only were there new additions - there were SEVERAL new additions - not only of people to follow on twitter, but also the addition of subject areas.

When I have talked to people I work with about twitter I don't know that the power of twitter is truly understood. So I hereby challenge anybody reading this to go to twitter, sign up for an account, and give it two weeks. If you don't want to participate with your own tweets, then find some people to follow and learn how to follow the hash tags that interest you. A couple I follow are #sschat, #edchat, and #running.

And just to start you off - HERE is the google doc with hundreds of twitter handles sorted by subject area.

Give it a try - what do you have to lose?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

SpicyNodes - Presentation Tool

I like Prezi...quite a bit. That being said, I also like to have a virtual arsenal (yes...I said arsenal) of presentation tools at my disposal.

My latest and greatest find is SpicyNodes. I have to be honest - I don't like the name. I'm not sure why, but it just sounds...wrong.

What I do like about it is it's non-linear method of mind-mapping delivery. Let me try to explain. Prezi is non-linear, and it can be a very good mind-mapping tool. In order to be effective, you really do need to have the "big picture" in mind when making a presentation with Prezi.

SpicyNodes, on the other hand, is more of a web-style mind map. The viewer can manipulate through the preso in any order they would like (so it wouldn't be as good for a chronological sort of lesson), and always get back to the home bubble to start over. is one I played around with. There is a free version available, as well as premier features for paid members.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Figure This - A Math Challenge

I'm not even going to tell you how long my son and I worked on some various problems from this site. I'll give you a hint, though....too long. Way too long.

Those of you that know me may know I have been diligently working on my mathematical prowess. I'm like a human calculator.

With that in mind, when I saw this site: Figure This, I knew I was up for the challenge. There are math problems for all of the areas of mathematics: algebra, geometry, measurement, number, and statistics and probability.

The challenges are separated into the above named mathematical areas. Many of the areas overlap (such as challenge #8, which I totally got right!) which shows the relationships in the field of mathematics. All of the challenges are also printable.

In addition to being a fun family challenge, I could see this as being a very good bellringer or center activity. And, as always - free!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome Colleagues!! (Twister)

I shared the blog url with some colleagues last Friday (3/18/11), and asked them if they have any sites they would like to share. If you are one of my co-workers, WELCOME! Thanks for visiting! I believe it is through the collaborative process that this site can grow, and I look forward to hearing your feedback as well as adding any sites you may know about that I have missed.

So. For today's website. Many of the sites listed here are from other people's blogs or from my PLN on twitter (@slymrgn if you want to join me). In honor of that, today's site is called Twister. It is another of the classtools handy dandy templates. You can only have one tweet at a time, which really makes it nice to capture the essence of the person you are portraying. Oh...did I mention that Twister goes out and finds a picture of whomever you are tweeting from to make a customized background? does!'s free!

How I would use it in the classroom: One way is to have students make a collection of them to decorate a bulletin board. I think that would be cool.

The tweet I made just for you! (OK...and for myself, too)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


xtranormal is a text to movie site

I first found out about it through a friend's link on facebook that explained Quantative Easing. For such a serious subject, I couldn't stop giggling. But even more importantly, I learned. I now *understand* Quantative Easing. To a much as anybody can.

I then made a xtranormal clip that followed the text of a blog that I was funny, I enjoyed it, and it was fun to make.

I have most recently used it in my classroom to make videos that grab the students' attention. Here is my most recent:

Unlike other sites I have shared, this one isn't free for everybody. However, if you send xtranormal a message letting them know you are a teacher they will give you free xp points (which are required to publish a movie, you can make and preview movies for free)...when those points run out, they will give you more. So that's cool.

I had originally wanted to have student have the ability to make their own movies. Sadly enough, the movie that is on the front page of their website currently is NOT school friendly. Funny...but not school friendly.

My advice is to check it out. Used sparingly, I think it is a unique way to grab the attention of your class.'s fun/addictive to use!