There are so many classroom community apps out there. This post compares some of the most popular- Class Dojo, Remind, Seesaw, Bloomz, and Klassly.
This post is sponsored by Kassly, but all opinions are my own. For more info, check out my disclosure policy.
In my undergrad and graduate classes, my professors always talked about the importance of building community with your students. THIS was the most important thing to establish in your first weeks of school.
Then, I got my teaching job.
My administration told me the most important thing was actually to begin instruction by the third day of school.
By the second week of school I should be pulling small groups.
I completely disagree with this.
If we don’t take time to build community with our students, we are setting ourselves up for struggle throughout the year.
Included in building community with your students, is also building relationship with the parents of your students.
This can be done a number of ways:
- Introducing yourself with a firm handshake and first name
- Reaching out to the parents within the first two weeks to compliment something about their child
- Send weekly (or monthly) newsletters about what is going on in the classroom
- Create a space where you can share pictures and videos of what is going on in the classroom
There are a ton of different community building apps out there for teachers. It can feel a little bit overwhelming on where to start!
In this post, I am breaking down some pros and cons for some of the most popular classroom community apps out there right now.
Click to Jump to the Review
Classroom Community Apps
Throughout the lists of pros and cons I am sharing things I love about the app as well as things that could be improved on.
I also took to Instagram to ask other teachers some of their favorite (and not so favorite) features of the apps.
Kassly (formerly Klassroom) is a newer app in the scheme of community apps (and to me) but is really doing a great job at filling in some of the gaps the other apps are missing.
Klassly combines all the essential elements to a student’s success- Kids. Class. Family.
While I haven’t used Klassly in the classroom (I didn’t know about it when I was teaching), I did spend time using and learning the app in their demo class and found they have a lot of really great features.
Things to Love about Klassly:
- Works just like social media- teachers can post threads, comments, videos, and pictures and parents can respond to these posts
- Ability to video conference with parents (yes, right on the app!)
- Can assign homework (this is great if you are wanting to try a flipped classroom)
- Capability for scheduling parent conferences and other meetings right in the app
- Parents can’t create a new post on the main feed without authorization from the teacher (which means no crazy posts!)
- There are over 120 languages posts that can be translated into (plus voice over for visually impaired people!)
- Can get parent signatures through the app for field trip forms and other parent authorization forms
Drawbacks to Klassly:
- Currently, the app is only set up for parents so students don’t engage
- There is A LOT to this app (which is a good thing) but can feel a bit overwhelming at first
- No specific way to measure and track behavior
- The avatars might feel really “young” to older students.
- Must upgrade to download photos or connect with other parents (but can view on the website)
Class Dojo seems to currently be the most popular app. When I asked my followers on Instagram what apps they use, Class Dojo came in top.
In full disclosure, Class Dojo is the app I used most of my teaching career. I liked it because it allowed me to give points to students that, at the end of the week, could be translated into Buchtien Bucks in my classroom economy.
A lot of positive comments came in about the app being super easy to use and engaging for students. But, there were a few teachers who didn’t care for the app much.
Things to Love about Class Dojo:
- Easy to use interface for students & kids love the avatars
- Ability to track specific behaviors (and keep this data for RTI purposes)
- Great way to stay in contact with parents
- Capability to make and assign groups
- On-the-spot positive reinforcement
- The built-in timer is a great component
- Points can be redeemed for prizes
- Posts can be translated to over 100 languages
Drawbacks to Class Dojo:
- You have to carry your device around at all times to track behavior
- Not as streamlined for teachers
- Secondary students aren’t as motivated by it
- Limited to behavior tracking, quick messages, and sending pictures
- Ability to assign homework but not grade or provide feedback
One teacher mentioned that she didn’t like students could see each others behaviors.
I understand this argument (and agree that public display of behavior shouldn’t happen) but the points don’t have to be displayed publicly.
This is the only other app I used. But when I used it, it was called Remind 101. The Remind platform seems to serve one purpose really well.
The thing that kept coming up in almost every response I got was something along the lines of “easy!” Lots of teachers commented on how easy it is to use.
Things to Love about Remind:
- Great for just parent (or student) communication
- Able to share important info (snow day or parent teacher conference time) quickly
- Can use this with parents who do not speak your language (just type it into Google Translate)
- Most parents and students are familiar with it
- Really helpful for quick, short messages
Drawbacks to Remind:
- Might charge a fee to some users
- Character limit
- Can only send 1 photo at a time
- No option for whole group communication
- Really limited on the features it offers (i.e.- only sending short messages or 1 picture)
I do not have any personal experience with the Seesaw app, but I did work with a teacher who LOVED this program. She was an ambassador for Seesaw and even got her upgraded plan free as a result of that!
I got to chat with her this past weekend and hear some of her favorite (and not so favorite) features of the app.
Many of the other teachers who chimed in on Instagram “loveeeee Seesaw!” because of how easy it is to share what is going on in the classroom with parents.
Things to Love about Seesaw:
- Teacher can take a picture of student’s completed work and post it to their portfolio
- Posts can be translated in over 50 languages
- Ability to be connected to the whole school (so when school announcements are made, all students/parents get them)
- Easy to use
- Activities and lesson ideas for students are on the platform
- Students have an individual portfolio that tracks all of their work (and can then be carried throughout grade levels)
- Visual option to embed into directions (great for ELLs)
Drawbacks to Seesaw:
- There doesn’t appear to be a way to track behavior
- Can provide feedback on student work, but can’t necessarily write on their work to show where the mistakes were made
- No way to track attendance
- Bigger focus on content and assignment resources than community building (posting pictures, videos, or updates of what is going on in the class)
So, I lied LOL. I have used Bloomz. I used it during my last year of teaching because my partner teacher used it and loved it. I’m not sure what that says about the app (or me?!?) that I didn’t remember using it till I started researching it.
Things to Love about Bloomz:
- Demo class to play around with as you figure out the app
- Works really similarly to social media (so teachers and parents are familiar with it)
- Option to enable or disable both parent to parent and student to student communication
- Different modes based on age of students (Elementary mode = no password needed but also no way to communicate with each other. High school allows communication and password is needed)
Drawbacks to Bloomz:
- Really buggy and the app crashes a lot
- Notifications are sent late so parents miss crucial messages from the teacher
- Does so many things that it is overwhelming to parents to know what to keep up with
- Photo sharing is lagging and people often miss out on seeing pictures posted
Features I Love on Klassly
As with any kind of app, there are tons of different ones on the market. Each app has a different focus so when deciding what app you are going to use, you must first decide what your focus is for using the tool.
Klassly is a All-in-One App
First, I love that it combines most of the other apps that are out there all in one easy-to-use app.
You can stay connected with parents (Class Dojo), show student work (Seesaw), quickly send info to parents (Remind), and it works just like social media (Bloomz) so many parents are familiar with this flow.
I also think the ability to schedule appointments on the app is a great feature.
When I was teaching and scheudling parent conferences, it was a logistical nightmare!
I was constantly sending papers back and forth, trying to find the best possible time. Or, spending hours on the phone trying to get in touch with all the parents.
This takes all of that leg work out of the process. You just upload your times and parents can find the time that works best for their schedule.
Assign Homework with Klassly
Recently I shared a guest post from Many Rice on a Flipped Classroom.
The Klassly app is a great way to get those video lessons to your students.
You can even assign a piece of homework on the app for students to show their understanding.
Easy Communication with Parents
The app makes it really easy to send messages, pictures, videos, and even video conference with parents if you need to chat with them.
You can upload multiple pictures at a time and even upload pictures and videos at the same time, if you have upgraded your account.
And, if parents want to get in touch with you they can do so through the “contact the teacher” feature. I like it because it gives boundaries to how they can contact you.
(Remember that time you ignored everyones’ advice to not give your personal cell number out to parents? And remember how a few parents neglected to respect work boundaries and messaged you all the time?)
(Am I talking to you or myself? 😉 )
With Klassly you don’t have to worry about that!
This is a really cool feature that I have only seen available on the Klassly app.
At the end of the year parents can opt-in to purchase a Klassbook with photos and posts from the school year. This is such a fun and cool way to capture student’s memories and growth year after year.
Setting Up a Kassly Account
Like I mentioned above, I spent sometime inside the demo classroom playing around and figuring out how it worked.
Step 1: Create or Join a Class
This step is pretty straightforward and easy.
Step 2: Create a Class Key
This step is how parents will be able to join your class. Pick something that is easy for you to remember!
Step 3: Customize Your Classroom
Next up, add a great class photo- just make sure to have permission from all the parents!
(Which, side note, Klassly requires all parents to sign a waiver saying that they will not reshare any of the photos or videos of other students on their personal social feeds. I think this is great and super important!)
Step 4: Fill in Your Class Info
Again, super basic. Although, if your school isn’t in the system yet, you’ll need to add it (but it’s super easy).
Step 5: Start Adding Students and Parents
Once you have your classroom set up, it will start to look more like that social media feed I mentioned above.
All you have to do at this point is start adding parents and students. Klassly gives you a PDF you can send to parents with a QR code and your class key to help parents get signed up quickly.
Join Klassly Today!
If you want to give Klassly a shot, it’s free to sign up (and use).
All you have to do is head here to sign up and get started creating your own classroom. If you do, I’d love to hear your feedback about what you love and don’t love.
I have spoken with the company a couple of times and I know that they are passionate about creating an app that is great for kids, the class, and parents.
I’ve been impressed with their friendliness, quick support, and willingness to answer my questions. Plus, numerous reviews on the apps tore said that their customer service is great!
All that to say, they would also love to hear your feedback about what features you are missing. In fact, I asked about a few only to find out they were in the works!
There are so many apps out there to help build community in your classroom.
The key is to decide what your focus is and find the app that best demonstrates that. Here’s a recap of the apps we covered and their main focus.
- Klassly (Focus: Connecting students, the class, and family together)
- Class Dojo (Focus: behavior management)
- Remind (Focus: quick & short messages)
- Seesaw (Focus: student portfolio)
- Bloomz (Focus: Build classroom community with students & parents)
Here is a quick recap of all the links shared in this post:
- How to Implement a Behavior Management Economic System
- Activities for the First Week of School
- Flipped Classroom: The Biggest Secret to Sustainable Teaching
Until next time,