Build a better classroom
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter
Bloomz is my parent-teacher communication system. Last year we implemented it school wide. It has been a great decision. We’ve gotten more compliments on Bloomz than any app we’ve ever used for parent-teacher communications.
In this blog post, I’m going to share three things:
- Comparison with Other Apps – How does Bloomz compare to other tools? See a full comparison of every feature.
- Features – Learn about the 9 features that I think make Bloomz so special
- Getting Started – Learn how to get started with Bloomz
How Does Bloomz Compare to Other Parent-Teacher Communication Apps?
Bloomz has the features I need. The best resource with a side-by-side comparison of Remind, Bloomz, Class Messenger and other tools is the comparison chart from Jessica Meacham. I’ve linked the photo below to the Google Doc where Jessica has this chart. While I chose Bloomz three years a go and she implemented it more recently, now there are more reasons than ever to pick Bloomz.
2. My 9 Favorite Things About Bloomz
Here are my nine favorite things about Bloomz. While some of the other apps can do a few of these, Bloomz is the only parent-teacher communication app that can do all nine. You may have different features that are important to you, so check the chart above.
#1. The most compliments on any tool I’ve implemented in the last 15 years
At my school, we have a school-wide Bloomz system. Since I implemented it last year, Bloomz has received the most parent compliments of any other tool. I’m glad we set it up.
#2. Parents can choose how to receive updates
Once parents get their invitation for Bloomz, they don’t have to join to get class messages. Immediately, parents start receiving emails every time the teacher or school posts. So, people aren’t left out until they “join.”
Why would you join? Joining lets them choose how they get notifications. Some parents don’t want emails. No problem! Once invited, parents only have to join and install the Bloomz app. After they install it (or log in online), they can set their preferences. They can be notified by:
- Text Message
- Smartphone Notifications
- Smartphone notifications (with a quiet period where they won’t get notifications – like at night or weekends)
- Logging in the website
Notifications are very flexible. Parents are in charge of how they receive information.
#3. Scheduled Updates
Additionally, you can schedule updates. That way, if you need to remind everybody next Tuesday night – you can schedule it today to go out then. The scheduling feature is so convenient!
#4. Share Pictures with Parents Easily (and Privately)
I used to feel the pressure to put all of my pictures online. While I wanted to share some pictures on our Facebook page, I didn’t feel comfortable putting so many pictures online because I take so many! I might dominate the school page.
I also want to respect the privacy of students. Sometimes we’re just having fun. Parents might want the pictures, but maybe not everyone else.
I no longer feel that pressure. Now, I’m able to share all the pictures (or videos) I want with just the class in Bloomz. I’m able to identify individual students, but I’m still able to keep the pictures private. Parents can download the pictures they want. They can see their child doing work, laughing, and engaging in meaningful work in my classroom.
#5. Private Messaging Takes Things Off Email and My Phone
I also love the private message feature. People can comment people can like things in there, but if they have a question they can message me privately, and I can just help them.
Plus, you can private message to groups of several parents in the app and on the web (something Remind doesn’t do.)
Bloomz private messaging helps me communicate with everyone without having to give my cell phone number out. Because before Bloomz, my cell phone was buzzing all day and night with parent questions! I couldn’t relax. It was too much. It was hard to have private time with my family during the school year.
#6. Quiet Hours Make it So You Can Just Be Contacted When You’re Ready to Work
Bloomz has quiet hours that you can set. So, you set times when you won’t be responding. Those sending messages will see you’re in quiet hours and know that you’ll respond when you’re back online.
Please turn this on if you’re a teacher! Part of having a great relationship with parents is setting expectations. You also need a personal life.
#7. Sharing Video is Easy
This year, I did several fun team building activities. I didn’t really want the video to go on YouTube. I directly uploaded these to my online classroom. (This is something else that not every app will do.)
#8. Group Creation for Sports and Clubs is Easy
Coaches are also thrilled that they can create groups for their teams and clubs. This is something unique feature.
#9. Simple Calendar Import from my SIS
I use the iCal calendar link from my Learning Management System (LMS) and linked it to the class calendar. This saves time. The assignments calendar is in Bloomz right there from my LMS! This is a feature exclusive to Bloomz.
Other Features You Might Like
I haven’t used all of these features but some of them will be interesting to some of you elementary teachers:
- Behavior Management
- Student portfolios
- Volunteer Sign Ups
- Parent Teacher Conference Coordination
- Language Translation in more than 80 languages
There are many more features.
3. How Do Teachers Get Started?
Now is the time to set up your classroom or your school.
It just makes life easier.
How to Sign up
There are two ways to get started. You can sign up as a teacher or as a school if more than one of you at a school want to connect and share.
- School Sign Up – If more than one teacher at a school wants to set up on Bloomz
- Individual Teacher Sign Up – If you’re ready to get started now.
Getting Bloomz Approved
This is my favorite video that shares the features of Bloomz. You can share it with your administrators or others who need to approve its use.
How Do I get help?
After you join, the help center of Bloomz has step by step instructions that will guide you. Now is the time to get set up! Tweet or send me a message if you use it for your classroom. I’d love to hear your stories.
The post Why Bloomz is the Best Parent-Teacher Communication System for Me (and Probably You) appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!
from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/bloomz-best-parent-teacher-communication-app/