How to Hear Alarm Sound Notifications with Google Calendar Reminders Without Getting Embarrassing Phone Calls in the Middle of Your Class

As a new teacher, I often have trouble keeping track of doing everything I need to in one day — from giving back the billion papers I just graded, to giving a student make-up work, to meetings, to making copies of assignments, to remembering to move on from one part of the lesson plan to another.

As a teacher, one problem about using your phone to remind you about all the tasks you need to do that day is that you can’t take calls during the day! So how are you going to hear your notifications with your phone set on silent? Of course you could set a separate alarm each day for everything you need to do. But it’s a bit cumbersome. I researched this problem for hours, hoping to find another way using Google Calendar. And there is a way — you can be the judge of whether it’s better for your needs. Hopefully this post will save you some time. Scroll below for some screenshots that will help you set up sound reminders/alerts/notifications in google calendar quickly and easily (or at least hopefully more easily than it was for me without the screen shots).

Here’s an overview (at least for Android phones, including LG, but probably others as well):

  1. Set up Google Calendar Reminders.
  2. Set your phone to Airplane mode.
  3. Now, go into Settings on your phone. Under notifications, you can set the sound that will notify you when you have a reminder. Now, you’ll hear an alert sound when it’s time to go to that meeting, or to switch focus so students have enough time for the cool part of the lesson you planned, or give students enough time to do their exit tickets so they don’t scowl at you on their way out the door. And you won’t get phone calls in the middle of class. Dignity maintained, hypocrisy averted! The downside is your calls will go directly to voicemail, but if that’s workable for you, then hey, it works.

Here is a slightly more in-depth explanation, with screen shots showing how to switch from Tasks to Reminders in Google Calendar, and set sound alerts at a specified time:

Scroll down to “My Calendars” on the left side, and click the little arrow next to Tasks. Then click “Switch to Reminders.” Not sure why, but you can only have one or the other at a time. It looks like switching from Tasks to Reminders in Calendar will still let you see your tasks in your Gmail Inbox. In the photo above, you see “Reminders” instead of “Tasks” because I already switched — and I think I’m going to stay with Reminders.

To make a reminder, click on a blank place in your Google Calendar, then click the Reminder tab instead of the Event tab.

Set a time.

Don’t forget to set the sound you want in your phone’s sound settings, and test it out before class in airplane mode. Also, make sure that your calendar is updated with all the reminders you’ll need for the day before you put your phone in airplane mode.

Now the only thing you have to do actually grade the next billion papers, and have the exit tickets ready to go when your reminder sounds. Good luck, hope this helps!

Note: There might be better ways to do this, but so far I haven’t found one. A big thanks to “melmoe” and “Hook” for their question and answer on this forum that helped solve the problem. Also, thanks to this article in Wired which also helped. This post is not affiliated with Teach Like a Champion, Doug Lemov’s book. You can learn more about that here.

The Delight of Corner Reflectors


Corner reflectors are amazing.

They help cars see you (sometimes) on your bike at night.

There’s one on the moon that reflects back laser light.

They’re in the channel to help boats see

Obliging across the spectrum, corner reflectors be.

Here’s a great video about corner reflectors on the moon, which also talks about how corner reflectors work, and offers entertaining digressions like how astronauts deal with their poop.

Lesson Plan: A good lesson for students (perhaps Fifth or Sixth Grade, or even Seventh Grade, Eighth Grade, or older) would be to watch this video and make corner reflectors of their own using this science “snack” from the Exploratorium. The Exploratorium website is a wonderful resource for science teachers.

What is a Science Snack, anyway?
An Exploratorium Snack is a hands-on science activity. Science Snacks are tabletop exhibits or explorations of natural phenomena that teachers or students can make using common, inexpensive, readily available materials.

Science Snacks are divided into easy-to-follow sections that include instructions, advice, and helpful hints. Each one begins with a photo and/or video, a short introduction, and a list of materials. Other sections include assembly instructions, how to use the activity, and explain what’s going on, science-wise. Most Science Snacks can be built by one person; we indicate if a partner or adult help is needed, this is indicated. A section called “Going Further” offers interesting bits of additional scientific and historic information.

Why are they called Snacks rather than activities?
The Exploratorium is a science museum with hundreds of hands-on exhibits. Early in our history, other museums would ask for “recipes” to build and duplicate these exhibits, so we published a series of books called the Exploratorium Cookbooks. Teachers wanted to build classroom-sized, less expensive versions of these same exhibits, so we created Science Snacks as a way to bring our exhibits into the classroom. We published these in a book called The Exploratorium Science Snackbook.
Many of the original Snacks we built were based on museum exhibits. We’ve since branched out to cover content that spans science curriculum for grades 6-12.


If you’re interested in learning about the channel markers like the can buoy pictured up top, you can click here. The buoy is green, and has the #5, an odd number, so you know that it’s a buoy that marks the right side of the channel when leaving the harbor.

If you’re a squash player, you might already exploit the corners of the court to send a ball right back where it came from.