My goal for next year is to increase and strengthen parent communication.
I wanted to find an app that would meet the following goals:
- Allow me to share photos, links, and messages.
- Allow parents to respond to messages.
- Allow me to message/share with a few select or all parents.
- Allow me to schedule events and notify parents of the events.
- Sync scheduled events to my Google Class Calendar.
- Allow me to schedule Parent/Teacher conferences.
- Share volunteer and wish list opportunities.
- Work on a variety of platforms (web-based, smartphone-based).
- Cost nothing for Ps and Ts.
- 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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.