Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Use IFTTT to Help With Recess Duty

If you're at CISD with me, you know that students cannot have outside recess or PE classes when the temperature or wind chill drops below 36°. You can designate someone on your team to go to The Weather Channel's website every school day during the winter months...or you can let IFTTT {pronounced like "gift" without the "g"} do the work for you.

I've written in the past about how IFTTT can help you manage your life, but this post will talk primarily about using the service to help you know the temperature before recess {sorry, secondary teachers -- I know this doesn't apply to you!}.

1. Get an IFTTT account. It's free. All you need is a valid e-mail address. 
Once logged in, you should be at your IFTTT dashboard. It will look like this at the top, except your username will be displayed in the top, right corner. 

2. Click "Create a Recipe." Now you see this screen:

3. Click "this." Type "weather" in the search box:
4. There are 2 potential weather triggers, as shown below. Click the "weather" one {second option}.

5. Choose "today's weather report" {first option}. Your screen should change to the picture below.

6. Put about 10-15 minutes before your recess time into the "time of day" slot and click "create trigger." You should see the screen below, except the time under your weather icon should display the time you specified.

7. Click "that."

8. IFTTT offers lots of action choices. Personally, I would choose the text message action {"SMS" if you're an iPhone user and "Android SMS" if you have a 'Droid}, but the e-mail or phone call action would also work for this. For the purpose of this tutorial, I'll choose "SMS." You'll see this screen if this is your first time to use IFTTT or your first time to use text messages from IFTTT:

9.  Click "activate" if it appears. Be on the lookout for a pop-up {you may have to turn off your pop-up blocker for a second} that looks like this:

Type in your phone number. IFTTT will send you a PIN number, which you'll then type in to the next screen...just to confirm that they're connecting your IFTTT account to the right phone number.

10. Once your phone number is hooked up to your IFTTT account, you'll see the screen below. Click "Send me an SMS."
11. Now you should see this screen:

If you click inside the message box, it'll change slightly:

Click the beaker to reveal this drop-down menu of choices:

Unfortunately, there currently is not an option for wind chill, but I did inquire about it. :) You can see IFTTT's reply when/if they tweet back by clicking here. In the meantime, you can combine the "CurrentTempFahrenheit," the "WindSpeedMph," and the "WindDirection" actions.  
Just click in the text box and delete everything IFTTT automatically wrote. Type "Current temperature," click the beaker, click "CurrentTempFahrenheit," and click "add ingredient." It'll look like this:

Type "Wind speed," click the beaker, "click "WindSpeedMph," and click "add ingredient." Now the text box should look like this:
Type "Wind direction," click the beaker, click "WindDirection," and click "add ingredient." Now you have this in your text box:
12. Click "Create Action." You'll see a confirmation screen that looks something like this:

13. Click "Create Recipe." You'll get a text message every single day at the same time -- unfortunately, I have not figured out a way to specify which days to text. When the winter months are over, just go into your IFTTT dashboard and turn the weather text recipe off until next year. 

IFTTT texts me from a certain phone number, and I just programed that into my contact list as "IFTTT" so I know who it is. Because I often have morning duty outside during the school year, the weather is texted to me every morning at 6:02 am. {I put my phone on "do not disturb" when I go to bed, so I never even hear the texts on weekend mornings when I try to sleep in.} Here's what my current text thread from IFTTT looks like:

You can see that I spiced up my text message by making it tell me good morning and remind me to have a good day. Don't judge me...you gotta take the encouragement where you can get it, amiright? ;)

Obviously, if you receive a text like my last one, where there was a 15 mph wind from the NW, you might want to jump on the weather app and check out the wind chill before taking the kiddos outside.
In the meantime, I'll cross my fingers that IFTTT implements a wind chill ingredient soon!
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