Posts categorized "Parents" Feed

This is a Remind Reminder!

This is a reminder to try using the Remind app! This seemingly simple, free tool can transform your classroom or organization. 

In early 2012, I was introduced to Remind co-founder Brett Kopf as I was leading CoSN's mobile learning initiative at the time.  At the time, I was intrigued by his story and impressed that a local Chicagoan had gone on to make his mark on the world. 

If you're not familiar with Remind, it is an immensely popular communications platform for educators. I encourage you to sign up on the web for it or download the app for iOS or Android. Experiment with it from the teacher perspective (creator of a class) and the student perspective (person receiving messages). Remind is currently being used by 1 out of 5 U.S educators and it is a safe, simple and secure method for educators to communicate with families and students over the age of 13. From the web, you can schedule announcements and add attachments; on the app, you can also attach photos and voice memos. Recently, Remind announced that multi-owner groups a great feature for co-teachers; translation in six languages another feature being rolled out this fall.

Since August, I've been contracted to conduct educator outreach with Remind in the state of Illinois. This means that I'm available to meet with anyone interested in using this tool through the end of October 2015 and can provide no-cost training to teachers, administrators, coaches, parent groups, after school programs,  childcare workers and park district employees who are curious about using this tool to improve home/school communications. I'm willing to work with you and your colleagues to find the best method for supporting users in your school, district or organization. Email me at if I can be of help! 

During the last couple of months, I've been very impressed with Remind Connected Educators, a group of Remind power users, who continually demonstrate creative ways to use Remind. Many of their ideas are inspirational and would have never occurred to me. These teachers have gone beyond using Remind for basic class announcements and homework reminders. Recently, we held a Twitter chat on this topic, and you can see some of these ideas on this tagboard. I love how teachers are using Remind to send celebratory shoutouts to kids and parents, to communicate with families on field trips and student travel excursions, to participate in Twitter chats and even to engage students in class scavenger hunts. Administrators are also finding Remind to be invaluable for sending resources and morale boosters to faculty and for hosting "Asking Me Anything" chats for their school communities via Remind. 

I've been using Remind to share innovation resources and global education links on a daily basis. You are welcome to join either group, and you can see them embedded at the bottom of this blog post. 

  • To join my Illinois Ed Tech Innovator class, follow this link or text @iledtech to 81010.
  • To join my Global Education News class, follow this link or text @gecnews to 81010.

Here are some links to get started and I hope that you'll experiment with Remind and share potential uses on Twitter with the hashtag #RCEchat. 


Compiling High Quality Resources Related to SPED and Accessibility

I'm currently working on a project involving  a school that specializes in working with kids who have dyslexia. My goal is to provide them with a list of high quality resources related to special education and ed tech. This list is not intended to be comprehensive as I think that might be a bit overwhelming for a school that is just attempting to realize the full potential of ed tech in their classrooms.

Right now, I'm particularly interested in the following:

  • Accessibility features and tips/tricks for Macs, iPads and Chromebooks 
  • Case studies or articles that tell stories of how ed tech benefits special needs students, particularly those with dyslexia
  • Names and Twitter IDs of thought leaders and practitioners in related fields to special education (would be great to find a couple of Twitter lists [see an example] as these lists make it easy to follow a bunch of people at once)
  • Names of organizations that provide resources and information around special education

Here is the link to the multi-tabbed Google Spreadsheet that I've started; it is completely open and editable by anyone, so feel free to add anything that you think is outstanding. Look at the bottom of the spreadsheet to see the different categories by tab. 

If you want to leave your name and/or Twitter handle for others to follow you, feel free to do so on the contributors tab.  You are also welcome to refer to this list and copy it to your own Drive if you'd like to use this for future reference. 

Connected Mother/Connected Educator #CE12

Before I was a Connected Educator... I was a Connected Mom. 

I think I've written before about my October Moms, but a visit with my friend Rabecca earlier this week has reminded me of just how important this group has been to my understanding of connectedness and frankly, to maintaining my sanity as a parent!

In early 1999, I stumbled upon a section of America Online called Parent Soup and found message boards devoted to the parenting of babies. I joined the October 1998 Moms board as I was staying at home with my then newborn daughter, Julia. This incredibly active board was comprised of 50-75 mothers from all walks of life who had had children during that particular month. Many of these moms had been members of the board while pregnant with their children, too.

If only I had known about this support earlier! I found our message board to be a complete lifesaver. I had no clue about parenting a newborn and little support from family, particularly since my own mother was fairly troubled and unable to teach me much. This Parent Soup message board, though, allowed me to ask questions and read the dilemmas of other moms and this opened up my world.  We discussed (and sometimes fought passionately) about everything from diaper cream to co-sleeping to breastfeeding. We shared recipes, coupons and book titles as we sought to find the best resources for our families. Two October moms made me beautiful baby blankets when my second child, Henry, was born.  This wonderful synergy went on for several years until, I think, Parent Soup was acquired by iVillage, the boards changed, and we sort of dispersed.

There was a gap of a few years, from what I recall, but I stayed in touch with four moms in particular... Kim from Cleveland, Suzie from St. Louis, Rabecca from Seattle, and Sarah from New York. More October moms have popped up on Facebook, so I'm still in touch with others as well. I've had the opportunity to meet all of my core October mom friends at least once, sometimes with our children in tow and sometimes not. (I wonder if our kids really know the extent of our friendships.) Suzie, most notably, surprised me in my office at the University of Chicago a few years ago as she happened to be on campus while taking her oldest son on a college tour! Suzie, by the way,  is also now an educator and it's been really fun to trade stories and resources with her. 

On Tuesday night this week, I had a four hour layover in Seattle and put it out there on Facebook. I hadn't planned ahead obviously and didn't expect Rabecca to come entertain me during my down time at the airport, but she immediately jumped in her car and joined me for a glass of wine (or maybe it should be "whine" :) ) As I looked at her and listened to her discuss our latest parenting conundrums, I was amazed at how we could pick up in person just like that, and that we had been conversing in one forum or another for about 14 years. Some may dispute the value of online friendships, but I think this new form of friendship is very real and to me, very important. Just as we educators advocate for "highly connected and qualified teachers", we should also be advocating for "highly connected parents". Parents who know how to leverage data, resources and relationships at their fingertips to be the best possible advocates for their children. I've also learned from my October mom friends to be more tolerant, empathetic and less judgemental. None of us are probably leading perfect lives with perfect children, marriages, and the like, but we are leading better lives, I'm convinced, because we have each other for support. If only other moms in the world had the opportunities that we've had.

So, this is a shout out to all my October Mom friends, and to Suzie, Rabecca, Kim, and Sarah in particular... thanks for all that you do and please always know that you've meant a great deal to me. To my fellow educators in celebration of Connected Educator Month, if you're not convinced that connecting on a professional level will make you a better educator, think about connecting to a community based on your personal interests and needs and then perhaps you'll see the value professionally as well. October Moms started it all for me.









My Reaction to Apps Push Parents’ Buttons - The Boston Globe

Apps push parents’ buttons - The Boston Globe.

Here's an interesting article that's been posted in my Facebook feed several times today. My first reactions:
1. Parents need to set limits with everything... the use of devices such as iPhones or iPads included. New devices, same old parenting issues. 

I struggle with this all the time, but I know I bear the ultimate responsibility for my kids' overusing devices. Maybe I should start using a timeout app. My daughter, Julia, told me a few months ago to stop putting educational apps on her iPhone. Hah, I'll just replace those with this app with a tantruming kid graphic.

2. I'm not particularly cautious parent when it comes to apps my kids try out, but then again I'm not likely to have questionable apps on my computer in the first place. I usually buy apps upon recommendations and let my kids go to town with them. I'm actually interested in seeing what grabs their attention. My attitude may lead to problems, buyer beware, see #4.


3. That said, the author of this article could have done a deeper dive into this topic. I agree that it's difficult to navigate the iTunes Store which recently hit 10 billion downloads. App curation is a need, but there are many sites and blogs devoted to app reviews and children's media. If parents need help with this, my immediate recommendations would be Common Sense Media's mobile app section, Appolicious, and iEAR. The author of this blog friended me tonight in Facebook, and it looks like a good read, too.


If parents don't know how to find resources such as this, try entering the terms KIDS APP REVIEWS into a Google search and a plethora of resources will magically appear.
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4. I agree that parents need to be aware of in-app purchases. I'm embarrassed to admit that we had a fiasco in our house involving an app called Bakery Story. My 8 year old son purchased nearly $700 worth of gems through this game. iTunes refunded this unauthorized purchase, thank goodness. I am not the only parent this happen to; check out this article.
During this debacle, I also learned that you can turn off the ability to make in-app purchases. Go to your device's settings, then General, Restrictions, Scroll down to Allowed Content and turn off In-App Purchases. You also might want to look at the rating settings movies, music, podcasts, TV shows, and apps. If you really want to control things, you can also turn off the ability to play multiplayer games and adding friends. 


5. The article also mentions an app from National Geographic called Ultimate Dinotopia which we purchased last week. While my son Henry enjoyed it, I was disappointed. I haven't investigated its origins, but it seems like NG just dumped a print book into digital form and added a couple of slightly interactive features. A much more impressive app based on a book is Animalia. There is a version for iPhones and another for iPads.


6. There are more than 90 comments on this article, many of which are fairly harsh about technology. My stance on this is that iPads are the way of the future of learning; we've only just started to dig into its possibilities. 

From my own use and from observing my children interact with content on various Apple devices, I understand how personal the experiences can be. From choosing content to saving content to editing and creating content, it's a device that lends itself to personalization. 

For instance, I've become a fan of not only reading e-books on my iPad, but of searching, highlighting and taking notes within digital books. I can't imagine kids having sustained, deep connections with books by highlighting and note taking if they had to share an iPad in a class or within a family. Yes, you can have connections to print books in the same way, but you can't search them as efficiently in print nor can you carry around the same amount of print books that you can store digitally on an iPad.  


If the price of iPads comes down or I win the lottery, whichever comes first, I will be purchasing iPads for each of my kids. I don't see this as a luxury, but as a necessity. I also don't think people will fully understand this until they have the opportunity to explore iPads in-depth.