A couple of weeks ago, while catching up on a massive backlog of RSS feeds, I ran across a handy tool that seems perfect for helping you integrate Common Core ELA stuff into your instruction.

Created by Russell Tarr and shared out on the incredible Free Technology for Teachers blog (do you think Richard Byrne ever sleeps?), the Classtools SMS Generator does a great job of recreating the look and feel of an ongoing text message conversation. Kids can immediately relate to the idea that two people would use this sort of medium to share information back and forth.

I see kids recreating conversations between historical or fictional characters, using actual facts and information interspersed while giving kids a chance to add a realistic voice to the discussion.

sms creator

No setup. No account needed. Just go to the website, click the grey Add button on the bottom left, type your text, click OK. Click the green Add button on the bottom right, type your text, click OK. Rinse and repeat.

Pretty simple. It looks like you can add as many texts as you want. You do have the option of saving the conversation for later edits. And once you save, you’re offered the options of copying the unique URL, getting an embed code, a QR code, or a URL shortcode.

The tool also seems to work okay on an iPad – so assuming it should work on other types of tablets and mobile devices as well.

You could use this as part of your Exit Card strategy. Have kids work in groups of two with each kid typing as a specific historical character. It could either a before reading activity to activate prior knowledge or an after reading activity to summarize what was read.

Have kids use the tool during a short video or audio clip of a historical speech and assume the role of an audience member of the time reacting to the speech’s content. What would a text message look like from someone who was listening to the actual Gettysburg Address?

Assign different groups to respond to historical events from different perspectives. How would text messages sound if written by students inside Little Rock High School during the crisis of 1957? NAACP? Congress? Southerns? KKK? From your state? Maybe have kids create their texts both before and after doing research on the event as a way of assessing learning.

You could ask kids to embed their conversions on a class wiki so kids could read each the stuff from other groups. They could send you their URLs. Take screen shots for a class collage.

There really seems to be endless ways to use this sort of tool.

Have fun!

(And be sure to go back to the Classroom Tools main page. Lots of other goodies there!)