I ran into Melissa Seideman from Hanover, PA early this morning at the National Council for Social Studies conference. I was updating History Tech and noticing the title, we started talking tech stuff.
Melissa teaches AP Government and US History at Southwestern High School and the conversation meandered towards useful ways to communicate with HS kids. She shared a tool I haven’t heard of before called txtblaster that looks like a great way to connect with kids.
The good news?
- Easy, fast and free.
The potential bad news?
- It’s a group text messaging service.
So, of course, you’re going to run into the Luddites that claim that letting kids use cell phones in school will open up the gates of hell, ensuring the destruction of the world as we know it. (A cell phone in today’s school is like gum used to be. You remember . . . we spent so much of our time managing who was chewing gum and finding ways to keep kids from chewing gum and monitoring after-school suspension sessions punishing kids who had been caught chewing gum that we sometimes forgot to teach.)
But Melissa was able to convince her admin folks that it would be used appropriately. She has set up groups for each of her classes and uses txtblaster to update kids on upcoming assignments, remind the group about tests, answer student questions and as a 21st century version of the exit card reflection strategy. Other teachers in her department are starting to use it in the coaching side of their jobs – updating kids about practice, parents about away games, etc.
Txtblaster is very easy to set up. Automatically add students to groups by sharing a short keyword with your students which they then text back to txtblaster. You can give users in your group specific admin rights. You can send and receive text messages from your phone and from your online computer account, giving you lots of flexibility. You also have the ability to text your entire group, sub-groups or individual kids.
We don’t worry about gum like we used to. Txtblaster can help you stop worrying about cell phones.