How I Use It
Bloomz can be used as a classroom management tool to encourage positive behavior and serve as a way to communicate with families. I use this tool for many purposes in my kindergarten classroom. One use is the behavior management piece. Each week, I set a points goal for the students. During the week, they have the chance to earn points for various behaviors that can be set in advance: following directions, good hallway behavior, participating in class discussion, etc. When the students are not following the rules, they can lose points as well. Each child starts with an egg, and as they earn points, their egg begins to crack, and when they reach their goal, the egg hatches and a mystery creature is revealed (there is also a grow a flower option in lieu of the egg). It is very engaging for the students and they love keeping track of their progress. There is currently a class goal option that is being developed.
In terms of communication, there are many options that I found exceeded other similar apps I used in the past.In addition to posting class stories, you can add events to your class calendar, pin announcements to the top of the page, and send immediate alerts. You can also create a portfolio for each student and post pictures of their work for their guardians to see. Another benefit is you are able to see when parents have viewed a post or message to ensure that they are getting the information being sent. Although I have yet to utilize it, you can also create sign-up sheets for volunteering, parent-teacher conferences, or donating supplies.
There were a few drawbacks to this app. One thing I enjoyed on similar apps I have used is the ability to randomly select a student - this allows me to skip the step of pulling name sticks to choose a child. However, Bloomz does not have this option. There is also an issue with the page updating. I have noticed a delay in the application updating from tablet to desktop, and messages and notifications do not always pop up right away without refreshing the page, and when you refresh the page, you are taken to the start screen and must navigate your way back to where you were.
Overall, I really enjoy Bloomz as a teaching tool. While I did score the app low on pedagogy, I feel this is because it is more of a classroom management tool than a critical thinking tool. I have used this application for about three weeks in my kindergarten class and have found the students more engaged in managing their behavior and earning points by participating that in the past with comparable apps. While it does take a while to set up (adding students, adding/inviting parents to join, setting behaviors, etc.), the end product is well worth it. It helps manage behavior so that I can spend more time focusing on teaching and it encourages the students to participate and work hard to meet their goal.