Digital Portfolios with Bloomz

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As a high school English teacher in a technology-rich school, I realized the importance of digital portfolios to capture and showcase learning. Upon graduation, each one of my former students left with both a digital portfolio and a YouTube channel accessible across platforms and shareable via links .

Can you imagine how powerful a digital portfolio would be if students began capturing their learning as early as elementary school?

A digital portfolio, I believe, holds 2 main purposes:

First, it is a curation of learning and experiences students can use in reflection. Reflection provides cognitive insight into themselves as learners, as well as an account of their learning journey.

Second, a digital portfolio is a living artifact in which students can share their skills, passions, and understandings with a larger community or a potential employer. Having a positive digital footprint is essential for young people. Employers and colleges rely heavily on what they see and read online about potential employees or students, a digital portfolio could help in this area.

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In a few of my more recent posts, I shared an exciting school to home communication app called Bloomz. Recently Bloomz launched another option perfect for students to demonstrate understanding and to enhance digital portfolios –  Video.  This new feature allows teachers and students to share videos via  phone or other previously recorded videos from the library.
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Student Timeline

The addition to the new video feature, Bloomz allows students full capability of creating a multimodal digital portfolio utilizing the Student Timelines feature. The Student Timelines feature allows teachers and students to post to the class feed as well to individuals (parents). Teachers can edit, annotate, and review work that students submit to their timeline before it is posted. Photographs, texts, and now videos shared in a Student Timeline provide a real-time insight into learning and conceptual understanding.

As you can tell, I am a huge fan of this award-winning app. As both a parent and an educator, I love when digital resources are agile in capabilities and serve multiple functions. Every student should graduate with a positive digital presence. Bloomz makes this easy to do with Student Timelines!

Public Behavior Charts: Just Say No!

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Grace emerged from the bus last. I could tell from the look on her face that she was upset. She looked in my eyes and immediately broke down, tears streaming down her cheeks and unable to catch her breath through the whimpers. I hugged her with every ounce of love I had in my body. We walked home, she tucked under my arm while I stoically led the way. When we stepped inside the comfort of our home, Grace tearfully gasped, “I was on Red today.”

Public Behavior Charts Hurt Kids

In schools across America, students are adjusting from summer routines to classroom routines. Excitement to see friends and meet their new teachers is overshadowed by the behavior clip-down chart looming at the front of the room. They are constantly reminded that one mistake would catapult their designated clothespin from the top to the bottom, serving as a visible disappointment to every adult and peer in the room.

I am not naïve enough to think that my children never have bad days or make mistakes. In fact, I expect them to have hiccups as they learn to navigate through school. But a public behavior chart has punitive consequences that outlast the offense itself. Ridicule from peers and negative self-thoughts do not belong in our schools in any form.

There are many options educators can use as an alternative to the Public Behavior Chart:

  1. A simple note home or a weekly graph of the same behavior system can be shared privately with parents or slipped into a folder and transported home.
  2. A Google spreadsheet can also replace Public Behavior Charts. Sharing a Google spreadsheet with both the parents and the child keeps the information private, as well as acts as an ongoing update on behavior.
  3. Another alternative, and one of my new favorites, is the “behavior tracking” option found in the Bloomz app. This digital alternative allows teachers to share successes and concerns with parents in a private and secure way. Along with a number of other options, this school-to-home app keeps the lines of communication open without retributions attached to more public options. A private messaging option promotes dialogue between child, parents, and teachers.

Educators work to develop and support the whole child, which includes much more than just scholastics. Behavior, both positive and negative, should be shared with parents but not posted publicly. Using a digital, secure and, most importantly, a private alternative such as Bloomz is what is best for kids. Just Say Yes!

 

3 Needs I Have as a Parent-Educator and How Bloomz Can Help

File_000 (5).jpegThis year, around 55 million students are heading back to school and I am the mom of two of them.

Wearing multiple hats as both a mother and an educator can be a difficult job that many in this field experience. The beginning of the school year is a time when I delicately place the care of my children in the hands of a fellow teacher and trust that they will return happy, challenged, and successful. School to home communication is never more important than at the beginning of the school year.

As a parent, I have 3 main needs this communication must answer:

  1. Show me you care!
  2. How is my child doing?
  3.  How can I help?

Effective school to home communication includes utilizing multiple platforms and modes to communicate to the widest possible audience and using technology provides timely, fast, and easy communication options. Recently, I was introduced to Bloomz, a mobile and web app used for communication, and am quickly falling in love with its ease of use and options available to both educators and parents. Bloomz is also a perfect fit to meet the needs I have as a parent. It can easily help keep the lines of communication open between parents and teachers, addressing the needs that we all have.

Screenshot 2016-08-31 at 8.40.16 AMShow me you care!

As a parent, I witness the love of learning in my own children when they have a caring relationship with their teacher. I look to my child’s teacher to guide and support them, not only in the areas of math and reading but also interpersonal skills. Bloomz provides teachers the ability to send messages and share pictures in a safe and self-contained environment. A daily recap message or weekly update, photos from the classroom or of my child reading in the nook all help to promote a transparent classroom, letting parents know that relationships are being built in a caring environment.

Screenshot 2016-08-31 at 8.42.30 AMHow’s is my child doing?

Nothing is more rewarding than receiving recognition on the good your child exhibits. Whether displaying my child’s talent in writing or praising their kindness to a new student, educators can rarely over-communicate with a parent. And just as I want to hear the good, it is important to be informed if my child is struggling with a math concept or isn’t following directions in science class. As school to home communication expert, Steven Anderson told me, “It is better to be proactive rather than reactive.” Again I found this need to know as a parent met with the Bloomz app. First, I could download it on my phone, which alleviates the multiple clicks I must endure trying to locate information on my child on other platforms. It also provides large-group, small-group, and individual messaging so that success can be shared and concerns targeted. Translation into multiple languages is available with Bloomz, as well as a new behavior tracking, which means no more stickers slapped on my child’s shirt or public clip-down charts of shame. 

Screenshot 2016-08-31 at 8.51.48 AMHow can I help?

Finally, as a parent, I want to know what I can do at home to support my child’s learning. What specific needs are there for the classroom? Are there volunteer opportunities for reading days, field trips, etc.? As a parent, I love reading to Grace Ann’s class, volunteering to chaperone Aiden’s field trip, or donating a dessert for conference nights. With Bloomz, teachers can share calendars, send event invites, request, and assign volunteers, and even post reminders.

As the school year begins and my hat shifts between being a parent and being an educator, I am reminded of the importance of a transparent classroom and the communication between school and home that is necessary to support my children as they embark on a new journey. A letter home, a classroom website, or even an app like Bloomz helps qualm those burning needs that many parents have and establishes a positive line of communication.