ClassParrot is a relatively new service that provides a safe and secure method for teachers to easily send text messages to their students. Teachers can use it to send text messages to remind students of upcoming tests, events, and homework updates. Parents can also sign up and stay up-to-date on what their child is doing in class.
One of the nice things about ClassParrot is that the phone numbers are not revealed to anyone, providing more privacy.
It is very easy to use. The teacher adds their class to ClassParrot which then generates a unique code and phone number. The students and parents then send a text message to this phone number to sign up for the notifications for that class.
The service is free based on your usage. The first 500 messages (credits) are free. After that, there's another 200 free credits added every month. If you keep below this limit, you don't pay anything. You can also earn credits by inviting colleagues to use it. Fee plans: $9/month or $90/year for unlimited plan for teachers. Schools and groups of teachers can also bundle plans - $100/month ($1000/year) for unlimited use for 20 teachers or $200/month ($2000/yr) for unlimited use and unlimited teachers. I would think most teachers would be able to keep it under the free limit.
Of course, the one downside is if the students have to pay for the text messages that they receive. Most students these days seem to have unlimited texting and teachers can always limit how many they send out.
Any text enabled phone will work and teachers use a computer to send out messages. Students and parents can even reply and have text conversations. There is also an app being worked on.
Teachers can have as many classes as they want. It is only available in the US and Canada for now.
The fact that ClassParrot hides the phone numbers is a great security and privacy feature.
If you are interested, sign up here and receive 1000 free credits.