Classroom Communication: Bloomz Review

24 August 2016
Classroom Communication: Using the Bloomz App
*I have not received anything in return for this review from Bloomz.*

It's like finding the match to the glass slipper in Cinderella - the perfect classroom communication tool.  Some parents don't check email. Some parents prefer text messages.  Some parents like Facebook or Instagram.  What's a girl to do?  Communicating from the classroom isn't my forte - and it's usually the thing that gets put on the back burner when I'm swamped.  I'm hoping free App and website Bloomz the answer!


I've tried it all.  First, a Blackboard class for parents to check.  Then, a website and blog (I couldn't keep up, I'll admit it!).  When I would check the page views, my heart would break a little.  I looked into the Remind app, but felt like it was a little limited because I wanted to post picture updates.

Towards the end of last school year, I convinced my administrators that getting an Instagram account for the Gifted program was a fabulous idea, and I was super excited about it.  I publicized it widely to my parents and got a positive response, but only have 17 (out of 60ish families) followers to date. Ugh.

I'm hesitant to make yet another change, but I'm all about a one-stop-shop, and it seems like I've found it with Bloomz!  With the Instagram account, I was planning on keeping my website to share upcoming dates and information, which means I would still be managing two means of communication with parents - three if you count the last minute email reminders.  And let's be honest, who knows how long that would have lasted. Here are some of the great features I've discovered, that make me feel like I *just* may have found my glass slipper!

Side note: I'm including screen shots by accessing through a laptop, but the app is just as intuitive and easy to use.  I imagine I'll be accessing this primarily through the app during the school day.

Adding & Joining Classes


Having separate classes is super important to me, because I am a resource teacher. I love that Bloomz allows me to have more than one section, and toggling back and forth between the classes is simple! In the "teacher" home page, you can see an overview of all of your classes - their calendar, their shared photo albums, etc. 

I also love that I can "join" a class as a parent - this might be for classes I collab in (if the teacher has a Bloomz account), or for my own Kindergarten child!  You simply need to be added by the "teacher" of the class by email address or have the access code.

Parent's can receive notifications about your class in a few ways:

  • Via phone app notifications
  • Via email
  • Via text notifications
  • Via in-app badges
The best part is, parents and teachers can choose the way they want to receive notifications in their settings!

Adding Events


Think of the events feature like a shared calendar!  I used to send home paper calendars at the beginning of each month with important dates, but this is SO much more effective.  Not only can you add specific times, locations, and notes, but you can also add reminders! This is great for upcoming tests, field trips, assemblies, etc.

I love that you can require an RSVP (I'm thinking of things like curriculum nights, etc. so you can plan for materials) but my favorite feature of the events app is at the very bottom of the screen: asking for items and asking for people to help.  Here, parents can sign up and everyone can quickly see what is still needed.  I used Teacher Lists before, but this seems to take the place of that program, too!



Finally, there is also a tab for parents to sign up for Parent/Teacher conferences.  We usually have to send home papers no less than three times for this - asking for parents to choose 3 times, coordinating your entire schedule, sending home confirmation times, and then reminders.  This feature takes all of that back and forth away!

Announcements


I think of this section of Bloomz like an email function.   Upcoming events or units, changes to schedules, websites or resources to share - anything that you want to share with parents that doesn't necessarily go on a calendar.  You can attach documents or photographs to your announcements, and you can set a time that the announcement will show to your parents.  I also really like that it shows you how many people have viewed your message.

















There are a few more features in the messaging center that I have just started to explore.  Here's what's available to use:

  • Private messaging a parent
  • Private messaging a group of parents
  • Parent-to-parent communication (if you choose to enable this in your classroom)

Media


I'm excited about the Media feature of Bloomz, because when I downloaded the program and first started using it, I didn't realize this feature was available.  Here, you can share class photos or documents with parents or students!

Behavior


Bloomz quite literally enabled this feature as of Sunday night! As far as I can tell, you can go into the app and award students individually or as a group for a "good job" or remind them that they might "need work."  I appreciate that you can add a note to the parents about the "award."  You can also assign points to each action.  This reminds me of Class Dojo.  You can also turn this feature on or off, depending on your needs.


Coming Soon


There are several features that Bloomz states are coming soon:

  • Attendance
  • Class Goals
  • Reports
  • (More) Settings
I'll be interested to see how the app progresses and adds new features!  There's even more that's ready for you to use that I didn't cover.  If you're interested in using this App/Program, I highly encourage you to set up your teacher account and spend some time playing with the Demo Class to learn the features.  So far, it appears like there is plenty of Tech Support, Information for parents, FAQ sections, and a Support Center to assist you in case you need it!

Overall, I'm super excited about implementing this change for the upcoming school year.  I truly believe it will be both a time saver for me, and a great way to consistently communicate with my parents in one place.  Do you use Bloomz already?  We'd love to hear about it! Here's to a great school year!

6 comments:

  1. Awesome post, Alicia!! I've been wanting to learn more about Bloomz and this was the perfect run down. Thanks for sharing :)

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm excited to give it a try this year! :) Great post- thanks for the detailed information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found it helpful Tori! Be sure to stop back to tell us how it's going so far!

      Delete
  3. How did you introduce it to your parents? Did you just input their numbers or did you get permission first?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am curious how you introduced it to your parents. I have been playing around with it and found a tech savy parent to test it with me and she had some difficulty getting notifications set up correctly. Did you create a custom letter that went out to parents?

    ReplyDelete

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