Parent Communication App Review

Apps, Bloomz, Parent Communication

My goal for next year is to increase and strengthen parent communication.

I wanted to find an app that would meet the following goals:

  1. Allow me to share photos, links, and messages.
  2. Allow parents to respond to messages.
  3. Allow me to message/share with a few select or all parents.
  4. Allow me to schedule events and notify parents of the events.
  5. Sync scheduled events to my Google Class Calendar.
  6. Allow me to schedule Parent/Teacher conferences.
  7. Share volunteer and wish list opportunities.
  8. Work on a variety of platforms (web-based, smartphone-based).
  9. Cost nothing for Ps and Ts.
  10. Have a variety of comprehensive supports for Ts.

I recently stumbled across two possible solutions: Bloomz & Classroom Messenger. My initial thoughts were that they were very similar, but I wasn’t sure, so I asked my FB, Twitter, and blog-follower #teacherfriends for feedback.  My plea for help resulted in MORE app suggestions and a LOT of questions!

More confused than ever, I sought out to research each app and create a spreadsheet that detailed each app’s features.  I signed up for accounts, started playing with each app’s interface, devoured the support/help resources I found on their websites, and contacted the app developers.  Here’s the current app review document!

app-comparison-screenshot

download-icon Download/Print/View the Google Spreadsheet

Last updated 11-9-16.

It’s a simple spreadsheet, and that was my aim.  If you’re using the spreadsheet to help you decide which app or apps would work best for your situation, keep in mind that it might help you to dig a little deeper and play around with the app first before implementing it into your daily routine.  For example, when the chart shares that two apps have P/T Conference scheduling capabilities, what that looks like and feels like exactly might be very different than what you’re hoping the app will accomplish.  You may find that one app meets your needs, while the other one doesn’t.

So, without further delay, the apps!


Seesaw

seesaw-logo-script-tagline

Seesaw is an app that allows students to add artifacts to their private, secure online journal.  Using iPad technology, students scan their personalized QR code and add to their journal.   While you can share student journals within your classroom environment, what makes this app so special is that parents can subscribe to their child’s journal and receive notifications when artifacts are added.  This YouTube video sums up the app’s abilities nicely.


Bloomz

Logo-Black

The Bloomz app is a private, secure “social network app for today’s busy classrooms.”  It has a Facebook-like feel to it.  Messages, photos, files are created and shared out.  Parents can comment, like, and re-share.  Teachers can post messages to one parent, a select few, or the entire group of parents.  Bloomz offers parent to parent messaging.  Check out this YouTube video for a quick, comprehensive overview of the app’s capabilities.


Class Messenger

mywdwdt-site_logo

Created by the folks at Scholastic, Class Messenger is a “private two-way messaging service.”  Teachers can share out messages, photos, and files.  Teachers have the option to have them delivered to one parent, a select few, or all parents.  Parents can message other parents.  View the Class Messenger Prezi to learn more.


Living Tree

living tree logo

The LivingTree app also has a Facebook-like feel to it.  Messages, photos, and documents can be shared out to one parent, a select few, or all.  Parents can comment, like, and re-share posts.  Get a better idea of what LearningTree can offer your classroom by watching this YouTube video.


Remind

original_remind-logo-1

Remind gives teachers a way to instantly text one-way messages to parents’ cell phones. Newer features include voice messaging and 2-way chatting between teachers and parents.  Visit their “Learn More” page for an overview of other capabilities.


Simply Circle

logo-simplycircle

Using the SimplyCircle app, teachers can share pictures, messages, and documents with parents.  Messages can be sent to all or select parents.  Parents may also message other parents within the group.  This YouTube video highlights the features of SimplyCircle.


Class Dojo

classdojo

The focal point for Class Dojo is classroom management and behavior tracking/reporting.  Teachers provide students with instant feedback regarding the behavioral choices they are making by awarding (and/or subtracting) points.  Parents are encouraged to be engaged through messages, photos, and voice notes from the teacher.  Class Dojo’s YouTube video will give you a good idea of what it has to offer your classroom.


I’d love to hear which app or apps you plan to use or are already using!

Message me or comment below!

PS:  I was not compensated in any way, shape, or form for my blog post/review.  Nor was I asked to review any app featured in this post!

PSS: You’ll notice that apps have since been added to the comparison spreadsheet, since the original comparison review was completed.

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  • Jaime
    July 18, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    In years past, I used Class Dojo as I found my parents needed more feedback on parents. But as I’ve gotten the parents more involved in the day to day, I find it’s less behavior and more about what we’re doing. I stumbled on SeeSaw about March of last year and my kids LOVED it. I teach Kindergarten and they could easily add content and were eager to see their parents feedback. And the better news is they have a google platform that they are launching this school year. Virtually every parent has a cell phone so I found it was a great way to get all my parents involved! And thank you for streamlining some of these ideas!

    • admin
      July 21, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      In addition to going with Bloomz for my class this fall, I’ll also use Seesaw. I’m so excited about the possibilities they both present for my class! Did you know that there’s a Seesaw event coming up soon? Check it out: https://twitter.com/jessicameacham/status/619962708327165952

  • Jamie s.
    July 19, 2015 at 7:35 am

    My school has been using Living Tree since it was developed three years ago. It has definitely become easier to use and they are adding new features all the time. I like having one place I can post everything for my parents. It’s much easier then keeping up with a blog.

    • admin
      July 21, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      Yes…blogging has been a rough go for me. I love to do it, but have often thought that having a Facebook page for my class would be easier. But, not all of my parents have FB and I want it to be secure. Living Tree and Bloomz give Ts that option! I’m going with Bloomz. Thank you for your comments!! Have a great year!

  • Melissa Kaiser
    July 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I have been using Bloomz since September of 2014, and love it! The app was piloted in my classroom, and in short order it was adopted by our whole school. Before Bloomz I would text parents, write blogs, use other sites for different needs (such as signup genius), and parents would get a hold of me on my phone, never read the information in newsletters and blogs, and forget they signed up for something in the first place. This last year was a complete game changer for me. Because everything was in one place, it was easy to get a hold of parents, and get them engaged in the classroom. They easily digested information because it was coming to them right away. All the events and requests have built in reminders so they weren’t forgetting (even parent teacher conference signups)! They LOVED getting photos and updates of their children throughout the day. It even has an emergency feature that we used 3 times last year for power outages. It instantly sends out phone notifications and emails to parents. We used to have to call each family, and that took forever! The best part? Even if you have reluctant parents who refuse to sign up, they will still receive all of your communication in an email form so you don’t have to manage two sets of parents. It works on mobile devices as well as the desktop, so it is accessible for everyone. And it is FREE!

    • admin
      July 21, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Melissa! I’m excited about the volunteer signup option and P/T conference signup option as well. I love the fact that the interface will be familiar to most (if they’re Facebook users)!

      • Wendy Bauman
        August 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm

        Thanks for this info. And thanks Jessica for your spreadsheet. I was originally planning to go with a Blog and Mail Chimp. But I think I’ll switch over to Bloomz. My only concern is the parent-to-parent communications in terms of protecting privacy of those involved. Do you monitor this communication? Can parents opt in/out of this feature?

        • Wendy Bauman
          August 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm

          I scrolled down and see that I can turn disable P to P chat. But can parents opt out individually? Thanks.

          • Jessica Meacham
            August 21, 2016 at 2:55 pm

            No. Feel free to contact support with that suggestion, though. Bloomz is always adding to their features road map! Email is support@bloomz.net

        • Jessica Meacham
          August 21, 2016 at 2:57 pm

          You are very welcome! I think you’ll be happy to be only using one app, rather than two (blog and mail chimp).

  • Stacie
    July 20, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    My experience has been very similar to Melissa’s. I learned about Bloomz in March at a Montessori teacher conference and was sold immediately! I came home, signed up all my parents and never looked back. I was using Remind, Facebook, text messages, email blasts, paper newsletters, class blog, paper calendar and electronic calendar, paper sign up sheets and more. Bloom offered me a way to do all of those things but in one app. With the platform being similar to FB my parents caught on quick and the feedback from them has been great! I love it and when school starts it is all I will use!

    • admin
      July 21, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Stacie – thanks for your comments. Your experience really gets me excited about the fact that I’ll be able to streamline my communication with parents. Like you, I had LOTS of communication venues. Bloomz will help me to focus my energies and streamline the process!

  • admin
    July 21, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    FYI — If you’re a Bloomz user, you can vote for them now! They’re up for a People’s Choice award: Bloomz users – vote for Bloomz for the People’s Choice award! http://peopleschoice.stevieawards.com/default.cfm?action=voteStep2&nomination_id=42843&AwardId=3222&sitetype=P

  • ms sisco
    July 28, 2015 at 10:18 am

    thank you! Is there a way (I looked but could have overlooked) to post this share to fb, social media? thank you again

    • Jessica Meacham
      July 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      They are added now. =) Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Stacy Huisken
    July 30, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    I also use many platforms for communication (Remind, Sign Up Genius, email, newsletters, blog) and am excited to try out Bloomz. On my blogger blog I have my flipped learning videos embedded and my Sqworl page linked. Do you know if I would still be able to do that kind of thing in Bloomz? Thanks!

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      I have looked for a way to embed, but haven’t found that option. I do know that a link can be shared, which is what I’ll have to do if I solely use Bloomz and decide to not blog. I’m like you, I embed videos a lot on my blog!

  • JoAnn Byrn
    August 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you for compiling all this information in one place!!
    Jo

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 11, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m glad I was able to do it too, because it helped me to decide!

  • MaryBeth
    August 10, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks for a great review of all these apps! I am intrigued! I am also leaning towards Bloomz but was wondering when you post pictures of student work, is it all posted on one main page or can you create albums or accounts where parents can just see their own child’s work?

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 11, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Hi MaryBeth –
      Great question. When a picture is posted, it posts in the main feed. You can post pictures to specific parents only, or to a select few parents. I’m actually going to use two of the reviewed apps (Bloomz and Seesaw). I’ll use Bloomz as our classroom communication tool, which will ideally take the place of weekly/monthly newsletters, classroom blog (maybe!), and mass text/email messaging. I’ll use Seesaw for student “portfolios” (it does what you want it to…parents can only see their child’s pictures/work). Best wishes!
      Jessica

  • Amanda M.
    August 15, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve been pouring over website and reviews trying to decide what web based site to use for teacher parent communication. I was wishing that there was just a simple chart that would compare the features of the top apps….and long behold I came across your marvelous review! Thank you so much! I’m so impressed and thankful for you time you’ve put into this. I’m excited to try something new. I’ve been using class dojo, but have decided to step away from using that behavior management technique. I’m also excited to share your post with my fellow teachers!

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 15, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Amanda! Thanks for your comments! I do appreciate them! I was like you, in June, looking for a comparison and couldn’t find one, so I decided to create one, thinking it may be helpful to others! Best wishes as you embark on your new school year journey! Jessica

  • Christin
    August 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing this awesome comparison chart! I was feeling the same way – so many options, which is best? I am “piloting” Bloomz with six parents in my current class and then getting their feedback. After reading your information and several comments people have left here, I feel more confident in rolling Bloomz out to all of my parents soon.

    • Jessica Meacham
      September 5, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Awesome! I’m introducing Bloomz to my students’ families next week! Excited…!! =)

  • Beth Eddy
    October 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    I have also started toying with the Class123 app. It’s picture and class story feed aren’t quite as nice as Bloomz or Class Dojo. However, it has other class management tools I like to use (Classroom Golden Egg, Lucky Draw, timers…). I love having choice and thankfully you have done the hard work of comparing the features of the many choices!

    • Jessica Meacham
      November 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Thanks for the feedback and suggestion! So many options!!!

  • Jennifer
    December 8, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve been using Class Messenger since last year. It has made communication with parents so much easier. This year they have added many more features. I’ve been able to get parents to sign up for class donations for parties and special events. I’m going to try it for parent conferences next report card.

    • Jessica Meacham
      January 2, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Class Messenger!

  • Class Messenger or Bloomz? | Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Snapshots
    January 31, 2016 at 8:20 am

    […] ← Previous Next → […]

  • Cynthia
    February 1, 2016 at 7:14 am

    I would recommend you to take a look at Classtree. It also allows you manage parental consents with mobile signing. I use it a lot these days.

    • Jessica Meacham
      February 14, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Victoria
    March 9, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    What a fantastic review, thank you so much, Jessica! I have been using Classtag.com – new kid on the block that was piloted in my Kindergarten classroom and quickly expanded to the whole school. There are two key points that stand out: 1. It is so beautifully made and intuitive – not being tech savvy I found some other tools more complicated to use; 2. It provides great visibility by family – how engaged they are, are they participating in activities and seeing my communications. Overall, I am absolutely in LOVE with it and so are my parents. Have you heard of it?

    • Jessica Meacham
      March 13, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation! SO many options!!

  • James Gosling
    June 10, 2016 at 4:33 am

    For parent communication app these apps are very nice. And many other applications are available in the application market. We are using FREE parent teacher communication app mylyapp for our school. This app is a Free for all school, college and education institutes. Download free mylyapp: http://www.mylyapp.com

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Lots of options for teachers is great! Glad you found one that works for you! =) Thanks for sharing.

  • Elizabeth
    June 16, 2016 at 6:22 am

    I recently found another app which is called Classloom on Twitter @classloomglobal and tested it immediately! I set up a test classroom parent group and checked out all the features. It has all features on this spreadsheet. Parents automatically get notifications of announcements, assignments, exams, events, pictures, documents or one to one messages that you post. I am so excited to get rid of the other apps I used and use Classloom (http://www.Classloom.com)! I think you should create another column to put Classloom on the spreadsheet. Thanks for this helpful article.

    • Jessica Meacham
      June 24, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      You are welcome! Thanks for the app recommendation! More information is more power for teachers, right? I’ll consider adding a column in July, when I have more time for blogging! Thanks.

  • Bloomz: 1 App, 9 Tools | Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Snapshots
    June 21, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    […] can read about this process here!  Which app(s) do you use to strengthen and build parent engagement and communication?  I’d […]

  • Kim Jenningd
    June 29, 2016 at 6:48 am

    I connected with you during the #teacherfriends chat last night. This is awesome information that I will look into more. Is it ever a problem for parents to be able to message other parents? Are you able to control content? Thanks

  • Leigh
    July 6, 2016 at 10:01 am

    This is a great comparison. My school has been using LivingTree and I LOVE it! It is so easy to use with my parents AND my students. My favorite part from the teacher perspective is the volunteer features. I can set up an event and LivingTree does all of the management of volunteers, tasks and reminders! So easy! From the parent perspective, all three of my children’s activities and events are in one place for me to to see! I love that the calendar sends me reminders so that I can make sure we are prepared for the upcoming assignment or event. Thank you to my school for going district wide! Love love love it!

    • Jessica Meacham
      July 7, 2016 at 9:56 am

      I can see why parents and teachers are responding so positively to parent communication apps. They really are an easy way to give parents information about classroom happenings and give them opportunities to help. Glad your school is using one! They make a BIG IMPACT. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Eric Dyck Hilty
    July 19, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Has anyone had any experience using these apps while working in international schools?

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 21, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      I’m not positive of the answer, but if you contact Bloomz, they could put you in contact with some teachers who do use it in that setting. I do know that with over 80 language translations available, Bloomz might be a good choice for your setting (one of many reasons probably!).

  • June
    July 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    I’m wondering if you have any experience using Edmodo and if so, how it compares to these others?
    https://www.edmodo.com/

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 21, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      From what I understand, Edmodo is an LMS (learning management system), and is for students. Generally teachers use an LMS to manage their students, assignments, lesson notes, etc….whereas Bloomz is a parent communication app. Hope this helps!

  • Chris Laudrey
    August 1, 2016 at 5:44 am

    This is an awesome comparison! Thank you! I have been using Classtag.com this past year and had an absolutely amazing experience – the ease of use is a huge selling point for me and it has been phenomenal. The same applies to stats that you don’t think you have highlighted – I know exactly what each family is doing and who is ignoring me, so I can take action quickly.

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 9, 2016 at 7:04 am

      Yes! A great parent communication app is classroom community changing!

  • Claudia
    August 9, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Does it work with Lumia Windows phone?

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 9, 2016 at 7:07 am

      Not sure! Please contact support@bloomz.net and they can definitely help you!!

  • Barry Sherrington
    August 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Did you use Shutterfly Share Sites at all? If yes, what were your conclusions about the differences, benefits and pitfalls of each?

    • Jessica Meacham
      August 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      I plan to consider adding to the comparison chart in November. I have roughly 5-6 apps to consider! Thanks for the suggestion. There are LOTS of options!

  • Jzmc11
    August 30, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Thank you so much! You’ve saved me and many others hours of work!

  • Janna Jones
    September 12, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Hi! It looks like your chart might be out of date. I’ve been a LivingTree user since 2013. Last fall when I saw your post, everything seemed close to accurate. However, it looks like you’ve added some student portfolio (and other) features. It also looks as though some of the app capabilities haven’t been updated with this. I’ve been doing student users and portfolios on LivingTree since 2013, however, it doesn’t show LivingTree as having the capability. Have you reached out to them for input since you updated the chart? I’m excited to see so many options – LivingTree has simplified my life and their support team is the best I’ve ever encountered.

    • Jessica Meacham
      October 22, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      Hi, Janna – – thanks for your comments. I believe you also emailed me (or maybe it was someone else). I update when app developers and/or users like you help me to realize that an app has been updated. SO thank you for your comments and new edits. I’ve since updated the chart. It’s always changing as it is a living document! =)

  • JM
    September 21, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Do you mind if I mark this page for my presentation at a Distrct Conference in Hastings, Nebraska? I am presenting the difference between bloomz and remind. Here is the conference I am presenting at. https://docs.google.com/a/adams-central.org/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeS20e4aoC0Axl7Csd_9NuKnuaWFMAu3tjVX1rlC3eq4GY0oA/viewform

    • Jessica Meacham
      October 22, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      You certainly may! =) Best wishes!

  • HW
    October 2, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Have you heard of/tried an app called Fresh Grade? It’s designed for eportfolios mostly but does have a communication component. I’m currently trying to decide whether to use it or Bloomz and would love another opinion.

    • Jessica Meacham
      October 22, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      It’s on my “to do” list for November (to add other apps to the comparison chart). =) Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Diane
    November 30, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Hi there! I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I am a Pre-K teacher who has been using Class Messenger for a couple years now. I love the ability to send photos and messages to my families about our day in the classroom. Unfortunately, Class Messenger announced today that it will be permanently shutting down come December 23rd. I am looking for a replacement platform to use with my families and would love your input as to which option most closely resembles Class Messenger. Right away, I downloaded Remind and was not pleased because of the 140 character limit on sending whole group messages. As you can read, I like to write a lot lol. I’m leaning towards Bloomz after reading your feedback and scanning your comparison document.

    • Jessica Meacham
      December 10, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      When I heard about Class Messenger closing, I truly felt sad for all those who use it. Any parent communication app that helps create ties between home and school is a wonderful tool. As you decide which new tool to use, please know that you shouldn’t hesitate AT ALL to reach out to the folks at Bloomz if you have any questions. I’m available to answer questions too. Just use the contact page on my blog to get a hold of me! I love what Bloomz has done for parent communication in my classroom. Best wishes!!!

  • Sandy
    December 3, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Just an update. Class messenger is closing permanently on Dec. 23, 2016. Our school has been using this for two years. We were upset when we first found out it stopped the texting, and now it is closing. We are looking into using Bloomz soon if all are on board.

    • Jessica Meacham
      December 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Please, don’t hesitate AT ALL to connect with the great Bloomz support team at support@bloomz.net. I’m sorry to hear about Class Messenger. I hope your transition goes smoothly for parents and teachers!