Finding the Perfect Parent-Teacher Communication App for Your Classroom

By Jessica Meacham

Defining the Problem
A recent study by Gallup found that only one in five parents are fully engaged with their child’s school. In my 19 years of teaching, I’ve tried every form of communication to bridge the gap between home and the classroom—emails, texting, blogging, a YouTube channel, Facebook. In addition to grading, lesson planning, and everything else I was asked to balance, it all got to be too much. Since the majority of the parent population has a smartphone, I realized an app would be an effective tool to give parents a glimpse of their child’s life at school.
Defining Needs
To narrow the scope of what I needed in a free communication app, I created a list of non-negotiable features. You probably have your own must-have list that will help you narrow down which app will work best in your classroom.

Must-have Features

  • Share photos, links, and messages
  • Schedule events and notify parents by syncing to my Google Classroom calendar
  • Share volunteer opportunities
Based on my must-have features, the enormous list of potential communication apps slimmed down to eleven free ones that would potentially fit my needs.

Communication Apps

  1. Remind
  2. Bloomz
  3. SimplyCircle
  4. Seesaw
  5. ClassDojo
  6. LivingTree
  7. ClassMessenger
  8. ClassTag
  9. Fresh Grade
  10. Appletree
  11. Class123
Cataloging Research
Once I created my list of potential apps, I signed up for accounts, started playing with each app’s interface, devoured support resources I found on their websites, and contacted the app developers. As an avid teacher/blogger, I created a working spreadsheet to break down the features of each app, including security and privacy, communication tools, community-building tools, coordination tools, student portfolios, behavior management components, ubiquity, ease of use (including training and support), and costs.
My goal was to create a resource to help teachers who were also searching for communication apps. After I posted the spreadsheet on my blog, comments immediately started rolling in. Teachers offered their recommendations and shared their personal stories of success—all of which helped me reach a final decision.
Making a Decision
As a result of my research, I found that Bloomz fit all of my criteria. Bloomz has successfully connected me to parents and created a team-like environment where our shared goal is to ensure each student has the best learning experience possible.
I invite you to use this spreadsheet to find the perfect app for your classroom.  If you have updates to share contact Jessica.
Jessica Meacham is a first grade teacher in the Southern Door County School District in Wisconsin. You can subscribe to her blog here.

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