Mar 1, 2013

Teacher Showcase - Text Messaging Students/Parents

**UPDATED** Scroll to the bottom...

There have been a few teachers who have approached me about the emerging text messaging services that claim to be perfect for educational purposes.  These services are offering educators the ability to text message their students/parents important notices and reminders without either party seeing phone numbers...they are kept private.  It's a great concept that can be very effective and secure at the same time.  As with a lot of web-based software/apps there are numerous providers right now of this type of service.  Here are three services that are not only geared more toward educational use, but are also free to use.


Celly is a text messaging service that is safe and secure for school use.  it is a device neutral service that will allow you to not only send text messages to students and parents with notices and reminders, but will also allow you to create groups and send group-specific messages to certain classes of students.  Here are a few of the services' published features:

  • join by text in seconds

  • unlimited members

  • group messaging with moderation

  • multiple-choice polling

  • scheduled reminders

  • track feeds automatically

  • link networks together

  • phone numbers are kept private

  • works on any phone with text messaging (SMS), Android app, web and email

With this service you can even allow moderated group messaging between students.  An example of the educational use of this feature is best demonstrated with what Mrs. Montano has done with math test review.  The moderator provides the students with a window of time in which they activate the student messaging with moderation feature.  This feature allows the students to message the teacher with a question or thought and the teacher can provide a simple answer or further support...everyone in the group will receive the messages that are being transmitted and can therefore benefit from the discussion.  If students do not wish to participate, then they simply text a message to the service to suspend it for that time and they can later reactivate.

Another example of the educational use of this service is demonstrated with what Mrs. Kochanowicz has done with her classes.  For now, just her students joined her "cells" in order to receive text messages for the purposes of increasing communication.  It is her plan to use the service to notify students of any changes to homework or when she anticipates them needing to bring their devices into class.  She would like to eventually offer the service to parents, maybe at open house, with the same goals in mind.  Mrs. Kochanowicz also expressed interest in using the service for its convenient polling capabilities.  She mentioned how it might be more practical than taking the time to use the SMART Response devices with their cumbersome setup.

Learn more about Celly


Remind101 is another text messaging service that is safe and secure for school use.  It is a bit more simplified than Celly in that it only allows the moderator to send text messages...there currently is no feature that would allow group messaging with moderation as does Celly.  It will allow you, however, to create groups so you can send specific messages only to certain groups of students, including parents.  This service, too, is easy for students and parents to join by sending a text to the group you create and they are a member.

Learn more about Remind101


gText is yet another text messaging service that is safe and secure for school use.  It is a little different than the other two services in that users initially join your groups via their website.  All future communications/functioning for your users will be through their cell phone or email software.

Learn more about gText



Mrs. Kochanowicz has forwarded me a screenshot of one of her classes using Celly and describes how she has utilized it so far.

"The screen shot is my home screen for my Period 6 “cell.” At the bottom are the two reminders I just sent to my class. The top comment is a message from a student asking what the homework was. I was able to click on her message and select “private message” to reply without sending it to everyone. So far I LOVE this!!"


  1. I am so pleased with how the use of CELLY in my accelerated math classes has improved communication about math with my students. I've used it three different ways.
    1. Alerts only- I am able to send out a reminder to all kids(without anyone knowing each others' or my phone number). The kids cannot respond! This worked great during the blizzard when I could keep them in the loop about when and how I was handling their upcoming midterm.

    2. Open chat- kids can send messages to each other (all come to me first). At first, this was a bit much. But just yesterday, I had three kids asking and answering questions of each other before a quiz today. They were not kids that were friends- just kids that wanted to learn and understand math helping each other. I only leave this OPEN CHAT available from 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm the evenings before a graded assignment.

    3. Curated chat- this is when the kids can just message me and I can decide to post their message to everyone. Kids can respond if I choose to send it out. I've used this the least.

    I love it and encourage anyone with a smartphone that wishes to see what kind of discourse their students are involved in -subject related, to give it a try. Feel free to talk to me about it.

  2. Cristin KochanowiczMar 4, 2013, 7:05:00 AM

    Just this past Friday, I set my 8th grade classes up with Celly. As Leslie mentioned, I have my groups set to "curated chat," so students will receive my reminders and can also send me a message if they have a question or problem. I made it VERY clear that I expect students to handle this with maturity and that I did not expect to hear from them unless there was an important question or issue. If it becomes a problem I will switch to "alerts only," but so far I have had no issues. I sent them all a reminder to bring their devices today - we'll see if it worked! After getting a feel for Celly as a means of sending alerts & reminders, I intend to give the polling feature a try. Stay tuned!

  3. Hi, Are you interested in learning about a similar service that is free for schools to use. It has several features that some of your other services mentioned do not have.

  4. Sure, send me an email via the contact page.