Remind makes sense for areas with unreliable internet. In other words, rural areas.
In March, when my school closed for the remainder of the year, it quickly became apparent that Remind (it’s free, fyi) would be the easiest way for me to stay in touch with students. In fact, I ended up using Remind for all my student contact.
There was one main reason why Remind made sense to me:
unreliable, unaffordable bad internet access.
During those final days before we closed, our administration conducted a survey that found 47.8 percent of our students did not have Internet access at home through a computer, laptop or Chromebook. As a result, I couldn’t use Zoom meetings or require kids to watch videos or even use Google Classroom. (I did try Padlet for the first time, but made sure students knew that if they had trouble posting due to a poor signal, they could text me their response or turn it in on homework drop-off days and I would post it online for them.)
Remind was my obvious choice since internet access was (and still is) a problem at my rural school district.
I’ve used Remind for several years now, starting with my middle school students and their parents in my previous positions as ELA teacher and Junior Beta Club sponsor.
I downloaded the app onto my iPhone and, of course, I also use it on my laptop. It’s easy to use on either device, but I find that messages are easier to compose when you can type them on a bigger screen.
Having the app on your phone means you can respond quickly to students. That can be good and bad since some students like to work extremely late at night and have no problem asking you a question at 1 a.m. or later! (Note to self: adjust notification settings!)
Here’s a list of cool things you can do with Remind:
- Send out reminders about upcoming due dates and assignments.
- Attach a Google Doc to your message. So if you have an assignment that uses a Google Doc handout, you can attach that handout straight from your Google Drive account.
- Attach any file from your hard drive to your message, such as a Word document or PDF.
- Include a link to any website, video, audio clip, or podcast.
- Send a message to an entire class, a group, or to a single student.
- Send a message to a mix of students from across all your classes (Btw, you can have up to ten classes with the free plan). Just enter one or two letters from the student’s name and it will appear in search.
- Request that students respond with reactions to your messages (so you know they’ve been received).
My top reason to use Remind:
It’s easy to enter students in your app, and it’s easy for students to join.
My top Remind complaint:
The 160-character limit for group messages. Ugh. However, the upside is that it forces you to be brief! (However, on a few days, I did have to send out three to four messages to get my ideas across.)
Here’s how I used Remind last spring during our COVID-19 closing:
- I sent short messages reminding students of a day’s activity. Even though I had made and distributed a “Distance Learning Instructions” sheet and directions and schedules covering March 18-31, April 1-15, and April 16-30, I still sent Remind messages regularly to keep students on schedule. These messages usually included links to the schedules, handouts, the Padlets, and other files that students needed to do the activities.
- I was able to determine who had NOT signed up for my Remind messages by glancing through each class’ roster. For example, about eight kids were absent on our last day before closing, so I emailed those kids instead or signed them up on Remind later.
- I was able to give credit where it was due. One assignment was turned in without a name on one of our drop-off homework days. I took a picture of it and sent it to everyone in the class and quickly (within two minutes!) found the owner.
- I was able to keep in touch with a student who had written about his depression in a journal entry he had turned in. Of course, I didn’t pry about his situation, but I let him know I was willing to help him contact a counselor and keep his school work up to date. There often isn’t time for one-on-one interactions like this to offer students extra help or guidance. Believe it or not, in this case, distance learning actually helped me connect with this particular student better.
Remind was my lifeline during our school closing.
In fact, if we must close again this fall, I’ll continue to use it since it supports locales with unreliable internet. And even though Remind experienced glitches due to system overload back in March, most of the problems were solved by the time I returned with my coffee refill.
Yes, there are other distance learning resources that I may use to supplement my very basic routine that revolves around Remind, paper, and textbooks. But for then and now, Remind gets the job done well and equitably for all my students.
Thanks for reading! Are you a Remind user? Share your experience by leaving a comment below. And for more ELA teaching ideas and lessons, (did you catch my Favorite Place Poetry lesson?), enter your email below to be placed on my mailing list. Don’t worry, I’ll contact you only about once a month and I’ll throw in a special freebie that I think will be really helpful to you. Sign up here: