Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Increasing Parent Communication and Participation with Bloomz

If you’ve been following along with my blog this school year, you know I’ve been partnering with Bloomz app to share out some of my favorite features of the app. In my first post, I gave an overview of the app. My second post focused mostly on using the app to schedule parent teacher conferences. (So convenient!)


Today, I’m going to show you how to share a class moment with all of the parents of your students. I would encourage you  to use this app as more than a reminder for book order deadlines, etc. This is a topic that’s close to my heart, because so often kids go home from school without things to talk about that happened during the school day, even on days when the learning was epic! Parents ask what their child’s favorite part of school was, or what they worked on, and kids reply with either a vague response or that they can’t remember. Enter: Bloomz app. Parents can now reference specific images, videos, events, and learning from the day to continue the conversation about the school day at home. Hello, 21st-century parent communication!

Creating a post in Bloomz is pretty simple and quick. Here’s a short video from the creators of Bloomz to walk you through the process the first time. It gets quicker and quicker the more you use it.




  1. Tap on the + icon in the top right corner of the Home screen.
  2. Click Post in the drop-down menu.
  3. Click in the To field.
  4. Click the Classes & Groups icon and select the group to which you want to make the post.
  5. Tap Done.
  6. The group name is seen in the To field.
  7. Input text in the Title and Body of the post form.
  8. Tap Insert Photos in the bottom menu.
  9. Select the photos you want to post.
  10. Tap Attach Files ( This option is available only in browser and not on the iPhone app).
  11. Select the file you want to attach.
Click Post.




When you are creating a post to send home to parents, you have several options to reach parents on the bottom. Teachers can easily attach photos, videos, or even files. I highly recommend attaching photos when possible to drive up parent participation. You can either allow comments on a post or disable this feature as well. Additionally, when you attach a link to a URL, a preview automatically generates right there in the message. Teachers can schedule when the post goes out (which is super helpful if you know you would like to schedule something in advance) and even share it right to a classroom Facebook page.


If you have an urgent message to send (no school, school dismissed unexpectedly, etc), make sure you set it as an “alert.” To help reach all of the parents immediately, Bloomz will send  an email notification and a text message.


If you want to bring attention to an upcoming notice or post, you can set it as an “announcement,” and the post will stay pinned to the top of the page until the date you specify.


Teachers, if you’ve used Bloomz, please share your favorite feature of the app in the comments below, or ask any questions you have. Thanks for reading!

This is a sponsored blog post. All thoughts are my own.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Scheduling Parent Teacher Conferences with Bloomz

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know I am a big fan of tools that help simplify the many responsibilities of teachers. It’s parent teacher conference season, and scheduling parent teacher conferences is no small task. With the busy schedules of parents, students, administrators, and teachers, it often requires multiple notes or calls home to finally get a time slot that works for everyone involved. With Bloomz, setting up conferences takes literally two minutes or less, and the process is seamless.






As a side note, in my classroom students actually run the conference, so the time a parent selects must work for everyone involved, including the student (who is the ultimately the most important part of the conference). Look for a blog post or EdSurge column in the future about how my students facilitate these conferences.

Bloomz has put together a really short tutorial about how to use the Parent Teacher Conference scheduler within the app or website.

Parents can see all the available time slots, and even set reminders for themselves to notify them about their upcoming conference. When signing up, parents can leave a note for the teacher to prepare them beforehand about specific topics they’d like to discuss, or if they have a special request like having a translator present. Parents can also easily reschedule right within the app. If parents are not on Bloomz, teachers can block out spots for them to reserve them a time slot.

Here are some other frequently asked questions and answers:

How do I add different dates with different Start Times and End Times in one conference?
  1. Please add all the dates on which you have the conference by clicking Add Another Date.
  2. Input the Start Time and End Time, which is common for most of the dates.
  3. Click Next.
  4. In the SLOTS screen, scroll to the date which has a different Start Date and/or End Time.
  5. Delete the slots which are not needed for that Dates or click Add Another Opening and add the extra slots for that date.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Select the Recipients.
  8. Click Done.
  9. Click Send.

Did you invite only few parents to the Parent Teacher Conference that you set up,  to give them the first preference to sign up? Do you want to invite the rest of the class now? Follow these steps:
  1. Tap on the My Calendar icon in the bottom menu of the Home screen.
  2. Click on the Parent Teacher Conference event that you created in the Calendar feed.
  3. Click on the Options in the top right corner.
  4. Click Invite More People in the menu.
  5. Select All members of <class name>.
  6. Tap Done.
  7. You’ll see the Message to Parents screen with the recipients in the To field.
  8. Edit the message that is sent to the parents in the email.
  9. Click Send.
  10. You’ll see the successfully created message and the details of the conference. The email Invitation, the post in the home feed, and the invitation in the calendar feed is sent only to the parents who have been invited this time.

Can a parent sign up for multiple slots?
Yes. When you click on the Sign Up button of a second time slot, then you will see this message pop up: “You have already signed up for a slot. Do you want to proceed signing up for another slot?” Clicking Yes will allow you to sign for another slot.

How do I print the conference schedule?

After all the parents in your class have signed up for the conference, Follow these steps to print the complete schedule:
  1. Click on the Conference you created.
  2. Click Options in the top right corner of the Event Details screen.
  3. Click Print in the Event options.
  4. A PDF will be downloaded to your computer.
  5. Open the PDF and print it out.

I’ll be writing one more post about Bloomz over the next month to share even more about this app. Be sure to check back, and leave any questions or comments you have below.

This is a sponsored blog post. All thoughts are my own.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Check Out Bloomz, One App for All Your Parent Communication


As a third grade teacher, I’m constantly on the lookout for tools that make parent communication easy and efficient. The days of having to type up weekly newsletters are no more, and I’m excited to share with you a brief overview of a new tool I just recently discovered, that literally allows you to communicate with parents in every single way imaginable.



This free app is called Bloomz, and in addition to allowing me to send messages to families, it also helps me schedule volunteers and conferences. Bloomz is user-friendly and works with all platforms including web browsers, Android, and iOS. Check out this brief overview from the awesome people at Bloomz:



Downloading the app took me only a couple of minutes using iOS, and once I opened it, I liked that I was able to create a quick demo class to try it out without actually inviting parents right away. This is a unique feature that I think teachers will really enjoy. Consider it a test drive before purchasing a car. Regardless of how you download it, this handy PDF has step-by-step directions with pictures to make the process super easy for you.

Once I set up my demo class, this is what my screen looked like on my iPhone. As you can see, I can schedule a post to share a quick update, with a photo or video, posts an announcement, message all parents, post an alert (think early dismissal or other emergency), schedule an event, ask for volunteers, or schedule parent teacher conferences. They recently added two new features to the app: student portfolios and behavior management.


When posting a general update, there are a couple of features in particular that I think are really convenient. One, I can push the post or picture right to a Facebook page. If you have a classroom Facebook group, this is a perfect option to share it there instantly. I also like that I can disable resharing, which prevents parents from sharing the post with others if necessary.


Posting an announcement allows me to pin an announcement at the top of the page until the date I have specified expires. I think this feature is awesome, because it’s easy for messages to get buried, especially if you send daily updates like I do.


When you’re ready to write a message, you can do it one of two ways. You can either send a message to the entire class, or to just one parent. The versatility of this is a really nice feature, because sometimes I need to reach just one parent.


Alerts can be posted for urgent messages. Since I teach in rural North Dakota, I feel like I will be using this feature during the winter to post weather-related announcements. Alerts are outlined in red within the feed, and parents will also get a push notification on their phone, text message or an email (or all of them), depending on their notification preferences.


The next two features of the app might be my favorite. Next month, my students will be having Pumpkin Day in our classroom. I’m going to be inviting all of the parents to come in for STEM challenges and all things pumpkin. Instead of sending home a paper note with all of the details and a slip to cut off the bottom with an RSVP, look at what this app allows me to do! I can even schedule an alert to remind parents about the event. Impressive.


I can request volunteers for events, as well as items, like pumpkins! I can repeat the event if I need a volunteer each week, or choose not to if it’s a one-time event. Here’s what that screenshot looks like.


Lastly, this app allows me to schedule parent teacher conferences. I can insert the time slots, even allowing time for transitions. In our classroom, students actually lead the conferences, so I will want to make sure parents select times that allow for students to attend as well. No more sending papers back and forth to finally nail down a time that works for everyone! Hello simplicity and efficiency!


I’ll be writing a couple more posts about Bloomz over the next two months to share even more about this app. Be sure to check back, and leave any questions or comments you have below.


This is a sponsored blog post. All thoughts are my own.

Friday, August 12, 2016

#GeniusHour Master Course Opportunity with AJ Juliani


If you've read this article from the spring of 2015, you know my students are super passionate about their Genius Hour time and they have absolutely blown me away with what they have become experts on. I also reference the importance of student led learning and Genius Hour in my TEDx Talk, and in this post I wrote for ISTE 2016. I believe Genius Hour has a place in every classroom, and I'm excited to share a unique opportunity with you...

My friend AJ Juliani, who is widely known for his work involving all things design thinking and Genius Hour, is offering a fantastic master course for you!

You can register up until August 17.
save 20% on your purchase by using the code 20KAYLA

Here's what the full course includes:
  • 70 Videos walking you step-by-step through the Genius Hour process
  • Year-long Private discussion group for course members with AJ (Facebook/Voxer)
  • 4- Week Unit and 7 lesson plans mapped to standards, 21st Century Skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s DOK
    • K-2 Unit and 3-5 Unit
    • 6-8 Unit and 9-12 Unit
  • 8- Week Unit and 10 lesson plans mapped to standards, 21st Century Skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s DOK
    • K-2 Unit and 3-5 Unit
    • 6-8 Unit and 9-12 Unit
  • 12- Week Unit and 14 lesson plans mapped to standards, 21st Century Skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s DOK
    • K-2 Unit and 3-5 Unit
    • 6-8 Unit and 9-12 Unit
  • Mini-Genius (Two Lessons) Activity mapped to standards
  • Student Genius Hour Notebook (print and digital)
  • PowerPoint for each unit
  • Starter Question pack for teacher and students
  • Parent letters
  • Assessment rubrics for process and product
  • Handouts for everyday and every stage


Bonuses only available during launch week:
  • Guide to student blogging (step-by-step how to)
  • Guide to social media in the classroom (What to use and how to use it)
  • Genius Hour Journal (the popular GH resource PPT)
  • Wordpress 101 (how to create your own blog and get it up and running)

Of note...
  1. This course is evolving. Each month new lessons will be added based on community discussion and feedback.
  2. This course includes everything you need to run Genius Hour at any level. Lessons are differentiated for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. This is not for one specific grade level, it is for K-12.
  3. All videos and materials are downloadable to your own device/computer so you can take them on the go and use without wifi etc.
  4. All files are editable documents. Nothing is in PDF, it is all Word Doc and PPT files that you can adjust to for your classroom needs.
  5. If you don’t have devices in your classroom, don’t worry. All the materials are print/handout ready, and you can run GH without computers for your students.

More info about Genius Hour from AJ's blog...
How Genius Hour Benefits the Entire School Community
10 Reasons to Try Genius Hour This Year

Remember, the course registration closes August 17!
Save 20% on your purchase by using the code 20KAYLA.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Win 10K for You and Your School!

When you think about your future, what do you see? Starting or growing your family? Traveling your state, the U.S., the world? Getting an education, or giving one to your kids or grandkids? Your dreams and goals are unique to you, and your future could bring anything.

Education can be expensive. Registration fees, sports equipment, music lessons and more are all things we need to provide our kids to prepare for their future. But, it costs money.

Not every parent can grant every wish their child has, but you can help shape them by providing the right opportunities at school and in life. That’s why I’m thrilled to encourage you to enter the Own Your Future Challenge! Record a short video (60 seconds or less) answering COUNTRY Financial’s two questions:

1)  If you won $5,000, how would you use it to own your family's future?
2) If you won $5,000 for a local school, how would you want them to spend it?

Then upload your video at OwnYourFuture.com for a chance to win $10,000 ($5,000 for you, and $5,000 for your school).



Submit your video by 7/24 to start owning your future and follow along with the contest hashtags #FutureFocused and #OwnYourFuture. Contest open to applicants in the Minneapolis area.

This is a sponsored post.