Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

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Messaging Apps to Communicate with Parents

Overview

If you haven't heard by now, Verizon has raised the rates on the Remind text messaging service so much, that Remind might have to resort to cutting off any Verizon customer from receiving their messages, which will take effect January 28, unless an agreement is reached. The rate hike would be similar to what companies that send spam get charged. You may have even seen the hashtags floating around Twitter, #NotSpam and #ReverseTheFee. So, what if a deal doesn't get signed? What if Remind is forced to discontinue its partnership with Verizon? What are some other ways teachers can easily communicate with parents in much the same way they do now, without being able to use Remind to reach each and every parent, regardless of service provider? Each of the following tools could be alternatives to use, and best of all, they're free!

ClassTag

One additional service is known as ClassTag. Although this may be geared more towards elementary parents, the major benefit to it is the relatively easy method of scheduling parent-teacher conferences. Additionally, this could be a great way to have volunteers sign up for in-class events. Along those same lines, develop a sign up to determine who will be bringing the treats to the next gathering!

ParentSquare

Another option is ParentSquare. It has a few more options than ClassTag. In addition to being able to schedule for events, the option exists to email teachers straight from the directory. There's even a calendar option, so that parents can keep track of upcoming events in your classroom. An added benefit is that the administrator can even see data and be able to interact with this, if used at the building level.

SchoolCNXT

If you're looking for all of the features of the previous two, with a small social media component, SchoolCNXT might be the one. This site allows you to create events, have parents contact teachers and administrators from the directory, and even send a message to those subscribed to your school or classroom. An added feature to this is the ability to track attendance at school, and even at events, with the option to "check in" present. The biggest downfall to this service, however, is that despite it being free, in order to use all of the terrific features, a subscription must be purchased.

Bloomz

Perhaps the closest thing to Remind is Bloomz. This has all of the same features as Parent Square, except one feature that is exemplified is the ability to send messages to parents, such as Remind does. Another distinct feature, which is similar to what Class Dojo offers, is the "Class Moment" option. This allows teachers to snap pictures of their students at work, or with their projects and share those out through the app using Bloomz.

Class Messenger

One that I have personally used in the past is Class Messenger. This is more of a teacher-parent communication tool, but it has a lot of great features. For example, you can open up the lines of communication between parents and allow them to have a conversation with each other through the app. This could be beneficial when organizing events. Another wonderful feature was the seamless integration with Google Classroom. I could send assignments and keep parents informed of all of the happenings in class, before the Guardian feature in Classroom of course, very easily. Finally, the component that makes this a winner is its dual platform. This can be controlled by both the mobile app and the online account, making it so connecting with parents is never out of reach.

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