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?
How much does Bloomz cost?
While the Bloomz is free, there are some features that have me looking to upgrade. Premium is $4.99/month. For schools, there is a school-wide premium option which includes SIS integration, an administrator data dashboard, cross-year student timelines, more class storage, and premium support. The free school version lets an administrator invite up to five classrooms.
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.
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The killer feature I’m looking for in a messaging system is an API. I want to be able to send messages through programs and scripts, without having to use the app. For example, it would be nice to be able to send a message whenever I post to my class’ Wordpress blog.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found a service that lets me… :-(
If I am understanding you correctly, you don’t need an API for that. Just do rss to HTML. I think rss dog will do it http://www.rssdog.com but I used to do it with feedburner to HTML. Just create the HTML and either embed titles only or rss summaries. There are lots of options for it. Actually, now that I am thinking about it- you could probably rss to email for some services that let you post via email. To me, I just use my mobile phone and post to bloomz. I don’t need my class blog as I use an Lms for class related stuff to students.
You have definitely sparked my interest in this system. It would be nice to have an effective way to communicate with parents, as well as delve into some of the other features you mentioned (portfolios, parent/teacher conference coordination)! Did you find it very hard to navigate and learn the system in the beginning?
It seemed to be pretty easy to me. Some of our teachers really prefer using their phones and iPads- that is easy as well.
The comparison matrix looks very out of date. Our school has been using LivingTree since 2013 and enjoying the majority of these features the entire time. Our entire district rolled it out in 2014. We enjoy the activity reports, volunteer management, volunteer reports, translation, and photo sharing the most. Our parents have also been highly complimentary of the application. I appreciate the review but question the validity when I see something I am using being misrepresented.
Janna, this matrix was done this past fall. Give us specifics and I will reach out to the original author. You can email me at Vicki at coolcatteacher dot com. I will tell you that when I personally selected bloomz prior to doing work for them that living tree was one I looked at- this was 3 years a go and Bloomz had what I needed when remind nor did living tree at the time. It sounds like you are happy and that is good but I am also extremely happy with Bloomz. Of course, I want my blog to be accurate, so email me the specifics that you think are misrepresented and I will pass it along to the author of the matrix. Look forward to your email!
Thanks, Vicki! I’ll send the specifics via email. At a quick glance, reminders, web capability, user base, archiving, content download, etc. are all incorrect and have been in place since my school started using LivingTree. I’ll take a closer look and maybe reach out to LivingTree to get their take as well. Their support team is the best I’ve ever experienced. Again, thanks for the response and willingness to update. It helps all of us!