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Being that it is my 4th year as a classroom teacher, there are plenty of teachable moments to reflect upon. I teach lower elementary at West Seattle Montessori & Academy. I have a multi-grade classroom with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. I teach math, science, literacy, art, and cultural. Looking back at 2017 here are the top ten moments when Bloomz bolstered my classroom community:

10. Summer Connections It seems like a world away now but over the summer my school community was able to stay connected thanks to Bloomz. We shared photos from vacations, summer reading lists, and professional development resources. When there is harmony among staff and a sense of family throughout the building students benefit because teachers are connected on a professional and personal level.

9. Back-to-School Introduction Video I set the tone for this school year by doing something to stand out. I used the Bloomz video feature to introduce myself to my new class. It was a solid first impression that gave parents a sense of who I am and made my students smile!Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 7.48.59 AM

8. Room Parent Partnerships My room parents have been rockin' it this year! I am so thankful to have them and since Bloomz allows room parents special privileges within the app they are able to manage some areas of my classroom. There aren't enough thanks in the world for my room parents! Curious to know exactly what a room parent can and cannot do in the class? The Bloomz Support Center breaks it down.

7. Co-Teaching with Bloomz My assistant Jon and I work hard to keep our classroom community informed. If one of us is giving a lesson, the other can take photos and upload them to Bloomz. I'm always pleasantly surprised to see the photos from his point of view. Jon has been posting the work samples on student timelines. This has been a HUGE help and time saver for which I am endlessly grateful for. Since both of us have equal access to the Bloomz classroom page there are posts covering a multitude of classroom aspects and all parent messages are answered in a timely manner. Would you like to invite your assistant, intern, or co-teacher to join your Bloomz page? To start, visit the Bloomz support center to invite your co-teacher to your class.

6. Newsfeed Positivity Cultivating a community among parents was made easier this year with Bloomz. It's a simple thing but when parents see pictures, like them, and post positive comments it helps the class as a whole connect in a friendly way. When families feel like they have a voice and are part of the classroom, the community is lifted. A strong classroom community goes a long way in student progress. This is because students can feel and see their support network operating together. Last year Bloomz enabled me to create opportunities for more conversations through social engagement on our classroom newsfeed. I look forward to the continued correspondence in 2018 and beyond!

 

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Positive Feedback in Response to a Video I Posted of our Class

 

5. Supporting Students With Special Needs Developing and maintaining positive communication with a special needs student's family is the first step towards learning what strategies work to teach the student. Parents of special needs students are juggling doctor visits, therapy sessions, and insurance companies which can lead to excess stress. It is important for classroom teachers to connect and support them. This year, while I wait for my student to be observed by an expert, I am developing a relationship with the student's family through Bloomz. I can tell how important it is to my student that I tell his family what he needs and that they understand, agree, and give it to him. I send messages relaying difficulties and ask questions such as, "What strategies do you use at home to help your child through anger?" The family has been responsive and we are working together to develop methods to assist the child. My student is responding positively to the individualized reward system I created with his parents through Bloomz messenger.

4. Computer Science Week Bloomz participated in Computer Science Week and it was awesome! A coding activity group was created within the Bloomz app and teachers posted links of the best apps and websites for coding in elementary. I tried new apps and coding websites with my class and every time a student created a new code, I posted it on their digital timeline for parents to see. The coding activity group is still going if you'd like to join!
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3. Classroom Party Planning  Every year I throw a gingerbread house decorating party right before the winter break. Before I used Bloomz, I'd gather all the materials myself using my classroom budget and painstakingly make 17-20 gingerbread houses. Sometimes I'd do it after class, while the students were at PE, or sometimes even during class. I'd tell the students, "You have to be problem solvers right now and help each other answer questions because I'm making the gingerbread houses!" This year my room parent created a volunteer sign-up list for supplies for the houses. Everyone donated something and I didn't have to buy anything myself! Then my room parents came in and busted out the houses in one morning while I taught and gave students the individualized instruction they need. Thanks Bloomz!
 
2. Mindful Behavior Awards A student's mom, Liz Warren, came to our class to teach mindfulness in November. My students learned how to label their emotions in order to give them space and decide how to respond. Deep breathing practice also helped my students feel calm and move through anger. I added these practices to my behavior award system on Bloomz and it is encouraging emotional intelligence in my classroom. If you are in the Seattle area I highly recommend contacting Liz for mindfulness education in your class!
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  1. Developing Substantial Student Portfolios I'm showcasing a trajectory of growth for each of my students with Bloomz portfolios. This is an invaluable gift to parents, students, and teachers. The tool helps keep parents aware of specific learning targets in my classroom and the communication is constantly flowing. I'm capturing student learning and progress. My students make purposeful decisions around what work to include within their portfolio and they self-reflect upon viewing it. I am excited to see where this technology leads and how it continues to change parent teacher communication and assessment in 2018!

Looking back at the past year, what were the most valuable moments Bloomz facilitated in your classroom? Please comment in the section below.

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