One of my favorite quick and easy ways to reach out to students and keep in contact with them is the "Message Students Who" option in the gradebook!
With just a couple of simple clicks, this amazing and wonderous tool allows me to remind just the students who haven't submitted an assignment that their assignment is due... or even that their assignment is late and they can still submit it! It also allows me to message students who didn't do well on an assignment (Ex: Below 70%) and provide encouraging words, tips on how to improve, and a reminder that I'm here to help and support them if they need assistance! Or, on the flip side, I can send a note to just the students who did great on an assignment (Ex: 90% or above) and let them know I noticed how amazing they did and that I really appreciate the effort they are putting into doing well in our course!
These are just a few of the many ways I use the "Message Students Who" tool, but the truly awesome part of using this tool is how it impacts students. I continually get feedback from students about how with their busy lives and crazy class schedules they really appreciate the reminders of when assignments are due. I also hear from students that they feel like I really care about them and their success in our class because I reach out to them with these reminders and messages. Overall, what I've found is that when you keep in contact with students and show them that you care, students end up enjoying and being more successful in your course - and what could be better than that??