Bloomz: Fantastic App to Communicate with Parents

WHO: Teachers looking for an engaging way to interact and communicate with parents, while sharing information in a private and secure setting.

HOW: Teachers create an account and set up a classroom. Next step is to invite the parents.  This can be done via e-mail or printing invitations to be sent home.  Parents can create an account online, or download the app on their phone to get started.

Once in Bloomz, teachers have a plethora of options to update their parents.  Some useful examples include adding pictures to share from the class, adding calendar events, sending reminders, creating a volunteer sign-up, and scheduling parent-teacher conferences.

WHEN: Bloomz is a great addition to a classroom at all times.  Teachers can capture special moments in class and upload for the parents to see.  It is great when teachers need help with purchasing materials or bringing supplies in for an event.

 

Here is what one Grade 2 enjoys about using Bloomz in her class:

EASY to add a post, reminder, calendar event, picture, etc
QUICK just a couple clicks
PRIVATE because it is Secure for just your group, and private messaging is also available if you want to talk with an individual parent
FUN because I want to add and share pics and the parents love it too
FAMILIAR because it reminds you of “facebook” with the layout, and you can even “like” and “comment” like FB
KEEPING TRACK is easy because you can see exactly who viewed your post.  Parents can’t say they didn’t get the message!
Parents have really enjoyed it for a lot of these same reasons.  I even have a grandparent that is on because she wants to help and volunteer and wants to be able to see when events are coming up.

Wiggio: Online Group Task and Communication Tool

WHO: Administrators, team leaders, and teachers looking for an easy way to communicate with a group, set up to-do lists, and centralized storage for shared documents.

HOW: Sign up for a free account at https://wiggio.com, create a group, and start building!  Wiggio is simple and straightforward to use.  Users can create task/to-do lists that group members can easily check off, as well as set up meetings, upload documents, poll members, share links, and send direct messages.  Group members can set up e-mail notifications of updates, and also have SMS notifications.

WHEN: Wiggio is a great tool for event planning and collaborative work. Teachers/coaches could also use this tool to communicate with groups like Student Council and sports teams.  Administrators would find it beneficial for school committees. Students could use this Wiggio to effectively work on small group projects.

Class Charts: Seating Plans And Classroom Management

Class Charts

WHO: Teachers looking for digital classroom management along with a great tool for creating seating charts.

HOW: Teachers create an account, set up their classes, and get started.  Teachers can manually create seating charts, or allow Class Charts to randomize.  After putting in the students and setting up the seating chart, the teacher selects to “start class”.  While the class is in sessoin, the teacher has many options.  They can rearrange the seating chart,  toggle the view (hide points by names if screen is being projected), and select positive/negative feedback for behaviors.  Class Charts also helps to track attendence, as well as analytics for classroom behavior.  Individualized reports are great for Parent-Teacher conferences.

WHEN: This tool is great for classroom management.

Here is a view of the reporting tool:

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What’s Due: Keeping Students And Parents Connected With Due Dates

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WHO: Teachers who would like an easy way to keep parents and students informed on due dates.

HOW: Teachers visit http://whatsdueapp.com/, create an account, and classes.  Each class is given a unique code to allow students to sign up.  Students/Parents download the What’s Due App from the App Store or Google Play, and view what assignments are coming due.  Users also receive push notifications the day before something is due as a reminder.

The teacher interface is really simple.  After creating a course, the teacher selects “Add Assignment” and enters in the details. Here is what it looks like:

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WHEN:  What’s Due is great to use at the end of each class, during planning periods, or at the end of each school day.

 

Sign up an account at: admin.whatsdueapp.com/referral/1203

Fresh Grade: Digital Student Portfolios With Ease!

FreshGrade

WHO: Teachers looking to create digital portfolios for their students.

HOW: Teacher signs up for an account at https://www.freshgrade.com/, creates a class, adds students, then uploads materials.  Teachers can use either their computer or a mobile device.  When using the App, teachers can capture evidence in the form of picture, video, audio, or text. Next the teacher tags the student or students it goes with, and it is added to the appropriate portfolio. There is also a student app, allowing students to take charge of their portfolios as well.  Parents also have an app available for them as well to see what each of their students are up to, and receive communication from teachers.

WHEN: This is a great tool for teachers to use all year round.  This allows the teacher to have materials to show parents how their student is doing during Parent-Teacher Conferences.

This tool is very easy to set up, and makes communication a breeze. It is very useful for classrooms with mobile devices.

Fresh Grade Product Demo from Fresh Grade:

Class123: Free Classroom Management Tool

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WHO: Teachers looking for an engaging means of classroom management that also features parent communication.

HOW: Teachers create an account at https://class123.ac/, add a class, start a class, and then identify positive/negative behaviors.  There are many different screens including seating chart, class board, announcements, and more.  Classes work together to be awarded Golden Eggs, in which teachers can use to have class parties, extra recess, and other rewards. After ending a class for the day, the teacher is able to see analytics for the class.

WHEN: This tool is great to use all day long in class.

Here is an introduction from Class123:

Introduction: What is Class123? from Class123 on Vimeo.

Tweet Walls: Engaging Interaction with Crowd

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WHO: Teachers and Presenters looking to engage their crowd with the option to share experiences via Twitter.

HOW: Set up a digital display of your liking, create a hashtag for your event, and set up a Tweet Wall page.

WHEN: Great for school dances, presentation events, etc..

One of the hats I wear at the Calvert Catholic Schools is Student Council Advisor.  As we approach Spirit Week and all of the festivities associated with Homecoming, I am given the chance to work directly with students and find out about things they enjoy.  I first heard about Tweet Walls when Principal Peter Cole (@CHSBlueDevil1) posted a picture of the Tweet Wall he used at Carey High School’s Homecoming Dance.

At Homecoming 2014, I set up our projection screen and a projector off to the side of the gym.  When I told the students I was setting up a Tweet Wall, they were a little skeptical.  Once the dance started and students started to use the hashtag, they were engaged and began sharing their experience with their peers. Students also asked to have a Tweet Wall set up for our Field Day Event at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Fast forward to Spirit Week 2015 and the Tweet Wall was one of the first requests from student council to have included in their dance.  Using a hashtag and tweet wall also allows you to capture moments from a students/spectators standpoint and get their viewpoint of an event.

I also used a tweet wall using the digital displays at NCOESC during EdCamp Ohio.  The educators in the crowd loved the idea and shared photos/quotes/resources the entire day.

There are a few different options out there for Tweet Walls, and the best looking ones ask for payment to use their resource.  The one I have grown very found of is Wall of Silver.

To use Wall of Silver, just go to the website, scroll down, and enter the hashtag for your event.  The page will begin to refresh with all the tweets tagged with that hashtag.  If it is for students, I would recommend starting with a warning regarding inappropriate tweets that will result in the removal of the Tweet Wall.

Google Add-On: Form Mule by New Visions Cloud Lab – E-mail Merge Utility

WHO: Teachers and administrators looking to have automatically generated e-mails from Google Form responses.

HOW: Create a new form with name/e-mail address, and all other information you are looking to collect.  Go to Form Responses spreadsheet, click add-ons, and add Form Mule.  Follow the steps to create various e-mail templates and set up triggers.  Then e-mails will automatically be sent when requested.  In the video below, I demonstrate how to use Form Mule for a workshop registration.

WHEN: This is also very useful for order forms, various confirmations, or student referral system.  Another great option would be for Parent-Teacher conferences.

WEBSITE:  http://cloudlab.newvisions.org/scripts/formmule

Homeroom: Don’t Just Tell Them, Show Parents What Is Happening In Your Classroom!

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Who: Teachers looking for a safe, private, and easy way to share pictures from the classroom with parents.

How: Teachers can download the app to their smartphone or log into their account via web browser.  Teachers set up an account, create albums, then send invitations via e-mail address or cell phone number.  Parents create accounts and choose which album they would like to view.  The pictures are delivered with a social media feel.

When:   This is a great tool for sharing and collaborating with parents at all grade levels.

Website: https://gethomeroom.com