Sunday, November 14, 2010

txtN bout d library Upd8

I luv bn abL 2 TLK 2 my students by txt & dey luv it t%.

I have written a short post about this in September but I felt that I should elaborate and update on this.
This is my sixth year teaching and even in this short time I have seen cell phone use skyrocket, in particular the use of texting. This is a national phenomenon. The Project Tomorrow reports that 98% of high school students have cell phones and 83% of middle school students. As texting has gotten cheaper the amount of texting has increased. Nielsen research found that amongst teenagers and young adults (18 to 24) the monthly average of text messages went from 600 messages a month in 2008 to over 1,400 in 2010. The chart shows how quickly this method of communication has grown in school age children.

If this is the preferred method of communication for our students, why are we still printing overdue or hold notices? Why are we stuffing our students’ notebooks with flyers and handouts? Why do we only give out a school phone number or email to parents?

I knew that I wanted to be able to text my students a few years ago, but I wasn’t willing to use my own phone and share my number with so many. I looked at a few SMS (short message service) sites, but they all charged a monthly fee or did not give enough free accounts. Some of the options out there are Send GM, Google SMS or Text 4 Free. You can create a free account on and receive text messages if this tool works better for your purposes. This site allows you to create a link that you could post on a school webpage, blog or wiki so that students or parents can send you a text without using your actual phone number. The solution that worked out the best for me was the TextPlus app on iPad. I was moving to my new position as librarian and I wanted to use texting right away.

Now that I had chosen the tool I had to organize how I would implement the program. I created sign-up sheets for each homeroom. When the students came in for orientation I told them about the program and many students signed up right away. The students seemed very excited about the possibility of the library texting them. I suggested to them that if they did not have unlimited text they might now want to sign up. I didn’t want anyone upset that they were charged by my texts even though they wouldn’t be very frequent. I also told them if they do not have their own phone they could use their parents’ number if they preferred. I have already used TextPlus to let my students know that books they requested were on hold for them in the library. Many of them text back big “Thank you”s with exclamation marks and smiley faces. I have overheard students bragging to others that I texted them last night. Students that didn’t sign up right away have added their names to the list after hearing other students talk about it. I hope to increase using text for overdue notices and reminders for my book club.
My experience has been positive thus far and I have received tons of positive feedback from the students. This could be applied to many positions in the school. Classroom teachers could text homework reminders, field trip reminders, test dates, links for homework help, short quizzes, polling questions, and any classroom news you would like to share. Administrators could send mass texts to parents of school news, closings, holidays or special events. The possibilities are endless. I urge any educator considering texting to give it a try. The tools are out there, easy to use and free or inexpensive.

Classroom 2.0 just hosted a webinar on the use of cell phones called "Teaching Generation Text" with Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb. I encourage you to watch this wonderful session. You can access this and other archived sessions here.

Tchaz cn TLK 2 thR students by txt
try it

TLK 2 U l8r

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