Bloomz: 1 App, 9 Tools

Apps, Bloomz, Parent Communication

Bloomz.  Visit your nearest app store and download it right now!  I’m not kidding!  Your teaching-life will be changed.  Forever.

Prior to using Bloomz I:

  • wrote classroom newsletters
  • wrote classroom notes/updates
  • mass emailed parents
  • individually emailed parents
  • mass texted parents
  • individually texted parents
  • managed an 11-step process for scheduling P/T conferences
  • secured volunteers through a 3-step process
  • secured classroom items through a 3-step process
  • wrote blog posts to classroom site

Bloomz {it’s free} has revolutionized the way I communicate with parents.  Using Bloomz has eliminated the need for newsletters, random reminders home, blog posts, and mass texts/emails.  Bloomz has three added bonuses to boot!  The parent/teacher conference scheduler is phenomenal, and the volunteer or materials request feature is a time-saver.

Parents don’t miss the newsletters, mass texts/emails, and random pieces of paper that come home.  Instead, they report that they prefer to have a one-stop-spot for school communication.  They love Bloomz just as much as I do!

The Interface (Inner-workings of Bloomz)

Bloomz looks and feels like Facebook.  As you can see below, the app’s interface is in a three column format.  On the far left you’ll find your classes (you can create as many as you need!), your contacts, and calendar.  In the center section you find your class feed. This is where you can create posts, calendar events, request volunteers/materials, and maintain a static “info” page, and access your members information.  More on these features later!  Finally, the far right column is where you access your instant chats.  You can message your entire membership (parents), a select few, or individuals.   bloomz 28

Introducing my parents to Bloomz

I introduced Bloomz to my first grade parents early on in the year.  I created an invite letter and information letter and sent them home, hoping for at least half of them to sign on by the end of the week.  Within a couple of weeks, all but one of my families had signed on.  Some families signed on more than once (mom and dad).  I was thrilled! The one that didn’t sign on was sent an email invite.  The email ensured that they’d at least get the posts via email notification!

download-icon View the parent invite/information docs!

There are nine tools within Bloomz that have helped me to eliminate the need to write newsletters, notices, and blog posts; send mass emails and texts; solicit parent volunteers in a cumbersome process; and schedule parent/teacher conferences in a harried, 11-step process!

Parent communication has never been easier!  Read on to find out more about this awesome parent communication tool!


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Posts

Bloomz has a Facebook-like feel to it.  When you post, you can add text (without a character limit!), pictures and links.  In the pictures below you can see sample posts from my Bloomz feed.

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Parents can comment and like the posts!  And, toward the end of the school year, Bloomz added another feature:  “read receipts” — which gives me information about who’s viewed the post and who hasn’t (with an option to re-notify them).  Oh the joy!

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You can also add links to posts that lead to files, videos, pictures, and folders; links to YouTube videos; and links to websites. Sometimes these links create a “preview” image of sorts, similar to how Facebook adds one.

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You’ll also notice that posts can be posted to the entire class, a select few parents, or one parent!  I didn’t think I’d use the post to an individual or select few feature (instead I thought I’d just use the instant chat), but then one day I ran across pictures that I didn’t necessarily want everyone to get notices about, so I just selected those individual parents.  It’s a nice touch to connect with parents in this way–to let them know that you’ve thought of them!

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Although there isn’t a survey feature on Bloomz,  I did use the post feature to survey parents once by posting the question and asking parents to private instant message their response or comment below the post.  It was quick and paperless!

bloomz homework survey

Occasionally Bloomz will post to your page.  Most of these are approved by you, so you have the power to decide if they appear.  The posts are infrequent.  One particular post that I really appreciated was when Bloomz posted a message during Teacher Appreciation week.  The messages that my parents left for me were thoughtful and kind. I loved them!

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Last Minute Notices/Reminders

We all send them!  Even with the most well-thought out and planned newsletter, there are times where last minute notices need to get sent home.  With Bloomz, I don’t have to create a notice, print it, and send it home (hoping they all get home!).  Instead, I create a Bloomz post. Sometimes I add an image, sometimes I don’t!  Some of the last minute notices I sent home last year include:

  • Walk in the Woods
  • Pajama Day
  • School Colors Day
  • Snacks Needed
  • Library Books Due
  • Permission Slips Due

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Alerts

Alerts are created for “emergency” or “need to get this info out quickly” situations.  In our case it was an alert about the possibility of our field trip getting canceled.  I had parents inquiring about the field trip all morning, so I sent an alert out after we decided as a first grade team what we were going to do.  I see alerts being really useful for weather related emergencies, or school safety emergencies.  We didn’t have any, so this was the only time I used the ALERT feature.  Bloomz pins the message to the top of your feed and adds a red line above it.

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Upload Files

Getting forms to parents can be a daunting task!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve handed out an important note or form that needed to be returned, only to return to the classroom after dismissal to find some of them left behind (undoubtedly the times that I didn’t put student numbers, initials, or names at the top!).  Now, if a paper version of the form needs to go home, I can also send it via Bloomz by uploading it (or by adding a link to it via Dropbox or Google Docs).

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Events Calendar

We have a Google class calendar, but the Bloomz calendar is a nice feature for parents that don’t access the class calendar on Google.  It sends reminders to members of the class (parents).  I use it for important events like picture day, conferences, field trips, and testing days.

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Parent Teacher Conference Scheduler

OK.  Brace yourself!  I could cry at how LOVELY this feature is.  Not kidding!  Bloomz makes scheduling parent teacher conferences a breeze.  The process our school uses is as follows:

OLD P/T Scheduling Process:

  1. Create blank sign up schedule
  2. Print it, with a message asking parents to choose top three choices
  3. Collect filled in sheets that parents send back
  4. Start creating the schedule
  5. Get emails from teachers re: sibling conferences that they’ve scheduled
  6. Send emails to teachers re: sibling conferences that I’ve scheduled
  7. Reprint tentative schedule
  8. Resend the schedule home to families that didn’t send it back the first time
  9. Repeat #s 4-8 once or twice more
  10. Finalize the schedule
  11. Print and send home with parents

Did you get dizzy reading all that?  Bloomz has a better solution.  Read on!

NEW P/T Scheduling Process:

  1. Create Bloomz event (P/T conferences)
  2. Determine/edit time slots
  3. Invite members (parents) to the event
  4. Sit back and watch the magic happen (time slots fill up, painlessly!)
  5. Print PDF schedule when all have signed on and send it to teachers with siblings

Here are a few screenshots of the process:

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On our end of year survey, parents in my class commented how they loved the parent teacher conference process.  I had no complaints, and zero issues with parents being able to find a spot for their conference.


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Materials Requests

The best way I can describe this feature is to share an example of how I used it.  We were fresh out of paper towels (not good in our sink-less classroom) and I realized that we needed some for an activity the next day.  I created a donation request on Bloomz requesting THREE rolls of paper towels and in less than a minute I had them donated and they arrived the  next day.  Oh the happiness!  Other things I’ve requested:

  • glue sticks
  • envelopes
  • wet wipes for people
  • wet wipes for tables
  • pencils
  • juice boxes for a movie
  • special snack for a movie
  • band aids
  • end of year party pinata
  • end of year pizza party money
  • end of year candy for pinata

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Volunteer Requests

Just like asking for classroom material donations, finding volunteers with Bloomz is a lickety-split process!  I’ve asked for volunteers for:

  • gardening project
  • writer’s workshop editing/revising group work
  • field trips
  • at-home teacher project help
  • parent gift-making help (I asked grandparents/older siblings)

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Instant Messaging

Like Facebook, you can message individual parents, a small group of parents, or your entire class.  It’s a quick messaging system, in that attachments and pictures aren’t added, but your message can be any length.  Parents can respond back.  Parents can also message one another (this feature can be turned on/off at any time).

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How I arrived at the decision to use Bloomz

Last summer I posed the question on my Facebook page to teachers, asking them if they had any recommendations for parent communication apps.  The responses were overwhelming!  I was pleased that there were options, but was confused about which recommendation met my needs!  So I set out to compare them.  I created an app comparison spreadsheet.  I contacted the app developers for feedback.  I signed on for accounts with every app and started working with them to get a better feel for them.

In the end I chose Bloomz as my parent communication app.  It met all of my needs and I felt that parent engagement and communication would increase if I used it.  I wasn’t let down!  Bloomz continues to impress me.  The app developers are responsive to teacher feedback and needs.  I couldn’t be happier with my decision to use Bloomz!

Parent Communication App Comparison Chart

You can read about the app comparison process here!  Which app(s) do you use to strengthen and build parent engagement and communication?  I’d love to hear about them!  If you’re curious about Bloomz feel free to comment below or connect with me!  Also, join the Bloomz Facebook page for teachers!

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  • Denise
    June 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Ok….I read your post last night and downloaded Bloomz to ck it out. I want to be able to send a quick message to parents…like
    We made bread and butter today and send a picture. I got a text with the message but no pic. In order to see the picture, parents have to download the app or go to Bloomz site via web browser? The picture does not come through in the text ??
    I like the way it incorporates all kinds of things, that it is private but I have some questions !
    Thanks in advance
    Denise

    • Jessica Meacham
      June 24, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Hello! Quick messages won’t have the option to add photos/a photo. But it’s pretty easy to create a post with pictures. Parents will receive the notification either by email, SMS (text), or through the app. They choose their preferred method when they manage their account. If they get it via email, the picture and words you write are in the actual email they get. If it’s a text, the same thing happens. If it’s an app notification, their app opens. Pretty slick!

  • Shelly
    June 23, 2016 at 11:45 am

    what does your letter look like that you send out to the parents at the beginning of the year? Do the parents have to down load the app first or do you have to get their email addresses to put into Bloomz? How does the set up work?
    Shelly

    • Jessica Meacham
      June 24, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Here’s the link to the docs I send home: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/owrfrl7q0yibjpn/AACUfYzglqoabib5bfCpygPAa?dl=0 As for what parents do, they either log onto the website and then download the app or download the app and create a user account that way. They then use the class code to join my class. I didn’t hear from any of them that it was cumbersome or difficult!

  • Mary
    June 30, 2016 at 10:19 am

    I downloaded BLOOMZ last year and used it all year. It was great! I could send messages to the whole class or just one message and a pic to one parent. It was great to communicate with that parent you NEED to talk to but don’t have 30 minutes because they go on and on. It came in handy to put spelling lists and sight word lists ( and other stuff). Plus I put things in the calendar and cued it to “remind” parents the day before at 6:30pm. They always knew to check when it “dinged” them. I had very few forgotten library books and they always came dressed up on days like Tacky Tourist Day. (There’s more but getting kinda long) LOVE IT?

    • Jessica Meacham
      June 30, 2016 at 10:26 am

      FANTASTIC examples of how to use Bloomz to build Parent relationships, communication, and engagement! Thanks for sharing, Mary!! =)

  • Mary
    June 30, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Jessica, one question… Do you know how it works for other languages? The only parent that didn’t really participate didn’t speak English. I thought I saw where it would translate but can’t find it. Thanks!

  • Mary
    June 30, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Oh… Ok. I thought I had to do something. Now I know what to tell them in August. I get the little brother. THANK YOU! ?

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    July 9, 2016 at 9:42 am

    […] launcher.  I asked for a donation of army men from parents through my parent communication app, Bloomz (their donation/supplies needed feature is FABULOUS!).  I cut the guns off of the army men, as not […]

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    September 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    […] photos was easy.  I’m already in the a habit of taking photos for parent communication and engagement, so I had plenty of photos from which to select.  One thing that I wanted to be sure of was that […]