Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A One Stop Shop For All Your Parent Communication In The Library, Classroom & Community With Bloomz!

This is the time of year we all look for those ideas and resources that are going to make a difference in our libraries, classrooms and communities this school year.  I love finding these special additions throughout the summer.   

It gives me time to test things out and get it all ready to WOW everyone when we go back in the fall.  
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This summer was one of the best for these new discoveries...especially at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando when our committee announced the 2016 AASL Best Websites.  

For the last several years, the committee has selected and celebrated 25 of the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.  I shared this news in the post We Are Proud to Announce the 2016 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.  You can read it here.
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In this year’s  list, there is one that will make a big difference in the way we, as teacher librarians and educators, communicate with parents.  

It is called Bloomz and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!  

Bloomz saves teachers time by integrating communication, coordination, and community-building tools—all in one easy-to- use, beautifully designed app and website.

Everything created or shared on Bloomz is protected by its strict privacy measures, which give teachers and administrators full control of who accesses the virtual classroom or school community.
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Bloomz connects teachers with today’s new generation of mobile and social-media-savvy parents.  

From the moment I opened up Bloomz and started creating my class, The Library Voice, I was excited about the Facebook-like interface.  

The three column organized layout makes it very easy to navigate.  
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The far left column shows all of the Classes and Groups that you have added or joined within Bloomz.
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It is very easy to add or join a class by entering an access code you received.  This will make it simple to have parents sign up at a back-to-school event or during parent/teacher conferences.
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This is where you can Invite others to your class or group and choose….
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which role each will serve too.  
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The column to the right is the place for Messages.  

With Bloomz, parents, teachers, school staff, and other leaders within the school community can all instantly communicate through private and secure two-way messaging—no more searching for phone numbers and email addresses.
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You can reach a parent or group of parents by clicking on the +Message button at the top of this column.  This feature is perfect for sending messages anytime.  It would be very helpful if you had an urgent message to alert parents about such as a snow day or the important math test coming up.  

Parents can also chat with each other or with a group within the Message column.  It makes it simple to plan class parties and other events inside and outside of school.  
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When using Message, you can send a message to as many contact and classes or groups as you select at one time.  I like that they can be sent to multiple places so easily.  

I am excited to share this feature with groups that Hagan and I are involved in at school and within his 6th grade class.  This will change the way we, as parents, plan for sure.  

Bloomz would even be helpful for Hagan’s football coaches as they kick off another year this fall.
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Now I have to admit….the middle column is definitely my favorite place to go in Bloomz!  

This is where most of the action takes place as it is where we find updates about the day’s activities, pictures being shared, announcements for assignment due dates, reminders of special events, alert for urgent matters and so much more.
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At the top of this column, you will find the +Create button.  
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This allows you to Create a Post, Announcement, Alert, Event, Volunteer Help and Parent Teacher Conference and Invite or Create Sub-Groups.
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As I was setting up The Library Voice News Bloomz Class today, I tried each one of these out.

I always love sharing pictures of what is happening in the library and classrooms.  This gives parents and others a wonderful glimpse into the learning and creating happening.  
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I added an Alert to sign up for the Library Voice News Bloomz class and even….
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...sent it to my Facebook.  I love this feature because Bloomz can be connected to your library or classroom Facebook page to make this integration super easy and quick.  
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It is helpful being able to add Events and call for Volunteers in the same post.  

I have not seen an easier way to ask for volunteers for events.  This will not only gather volunteers for various events, Bloomz is also a terrific way to get more parents and others volunteering with the great placement in the app and website.  
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One more thing I wanted to point out is sharing Files.  In this post, I shared a public Google Document for Dot Day.  It is neatly attached and easy to open and download from this post.
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And while you’re in the middle column of Bloomz, don’t forget to check out My Calendar, Media and My Contacts too.  
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When you are in My Calendar, click on +Event to find…
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...options for adding Events, Volunteer Help and...  
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...Parent Teacher Conferences.
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Under Media you have options to...
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...Add Photos, Create Albums, and Upload Documents.  
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My favorite part of Media is that we can Create An Album to be shared and that others can contribute to.  

I love seeing all of the photos that other teachers and parents take, so this will be really exciting to see what is shared within the different albums.  
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Also, you need to check out My Contacts.  
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You can Invite people through Groups, Classes and several other ways.  
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One last way I want to mention as you set up your Bloomz is that you can personalize your profile by adding your family.  

I love how this allows pictures of spouses and children to be added and brings everyone a bit closer.  
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When using the Bloomz app,  the features are the same as on the website.  You will see My Calendar, Messages, Media and My Contacts on the bottom of the app.
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One of my favorite things about the app is how easy it is to share Media within the app.  

You can do this through a Post or...
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under the Media tab from the bottom of the app.  You can Add Photos, Create an Album or Upload Documents from Media.  
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When you click on Add Photos, this allows you to Take a Photo right from the Bloomz app, choose from the Photo Library, and under More you can add from Dropbox or Google Drive.  
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Today I took a picture of a super cute Back-to-School project my sister Heather is doing for her library. I added it to my “Back-to-School Ideas” Folder, which shared it with my entire Library Voice News Group.  

This would be one of the best ways to share photos with parents and others every day from your library or classroom. too.  

As you can see, Bloomz empowers teachers and parents to collaborate and communicate with one another while participating like they never have before.  

It takes the place of weekly and monthly newsletters, multiple emails throughout the week, teacher websites and calendars, volunteer and conference sign-up sheets, school directories and calendars , not to mention how easy it is to post from Bloomz to Facebook and Twitter.  

This is the year for Bloomz and the year for you to bring this community to your library and classroom.  

It is free.  

It is safe.

It is engaging.

And most of all….It will make a difference for your students, parents and you!  
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You can sign up for Bloomz here and try it out for your library and classroom too!  
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Make sure you follow Bloomz on Facebook and…
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@BloomzApp on Twitter for more ideas and lots of updates coming soon.  

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