Why Are Notes Important Taking notes on students is one of the most important things that a teacher needs to do to guide instruction. Students do not learn the same way, which is why teachers need to take notes on them as an individual. While sometimes teachers can act off of visual memories, having concrete notes can be beneficial when meeting with parents or administrators. I have been using BrightLoop during the spring semester and it is hands down my favorite app for taking notes on students.
My Prior Conference Experiences I'll just give you a brief history of what I had previously used for notes on students. Notability was the first app that I used to take notes on students. Every conference I had with a student, they got a new document that went into their folder. I moved to Google Forms, but didn't like the data and was not in a clean format. I moved back to Notability, but wanted something else because I wasn't happy.
How I Found BrightLoop From multiple searches online, tweets, etc, an ad popped up on my Facebook advertising a product called BrightLoop. They were launching a Kickstarter campaign. After watching the video describing the products, I knew that this was something I had to use. While I did not find it until the very end of the campaign, I was telling my administration about it and knew that I had to do whatever I could to try this product. Months went by and then saw a beta sign-up on their website. Knowing the power of Twitter, I sent out some tweets and caught the attention of Marco, who is one of the developers. He connected me with Molly, the founder of BrightLoop, and the rest is history.
First Impressions When I logged into BrightLoop, I was right away blown away. The user interface was so clean and bright, which in my opinion can really make or break an app. Once I had put in all my students' names and uploaded pictures, I got to work. From the collect screen, it was so easy to pick the subject for my notes. The breakdown of the subjects, which they call Learnable Standards, are all connected to Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The Learnable Standards already programmed into the app were things that I would have typically wrote out myself. It saves teachers time by not having to enter in themselves.
Signing Up for Account BrightLoop is free for K-5 teachers. You can sign up at http://app.brightlooplearning.com Whenever you sign up for an account and choose a grade level, all the CCSS are programmed into your account. BrightLoop also allows for you to have multiple classes, which can be great for Special Education teachers and Title I teachers.
3 Screens on BrightLoop
Collect Screen Notes, Image Uploads, Goals, Lessons, and Quick Statuses are all features on the Collect Screen. This is one of the easiest ways to collect any type of information you would need to support your students.
Subjects for Documentation-Teachers can take notes on Reading, Writing, Math, Speaking and Listening, as well as Behavior
Two Views-Classroom view or Group View
Notes and Goals-You can choose a subject, category, and objective to take notes on for students. When you choose an objective, the CCCSS will appear that aligns. When you click on either one or multiple students, whenever you click save, it will go into their portfolio in the Review Section. It is nice to have the identical note for multiple students without having to type in the same thing over and over.
Image Capture-Take pictures of student writing or anything else that would be beneficial to show progress or guide their learning.
Lesson-When teachers see a need for an additional lesson, such as individual or small group lesson, they can easily add a note and then plan it at a later time. This feature has come in handy for me to address certain needs during RTI time.
Quick Status-When you are walking around the classroom checking for understanding, you might want to do a quick and easy way to document your noticings. Quick status allows you to categorize a student as Needs Attention, On Track, of Ahead. This helps you to know how to differentiate instruction when teaching various lessons. When you click on a Subject, Category, and Objective, it will always show you the previous Quick Statuses. When you update a status, it will be documented in the student's profile. This is best utilized in group view.
Review This is where all of your notes, goals, and image uploads. The majority of the screen is the notes portion with the goals being on the left. You have the option of viewing all notes or you can break it down by subject areas. This is helpful when meeting with parents, instructional coaches, and teaching teams.
Keep track of goals-When you click on a goal, all notes corresponding with that subject and goal will be highlighted. This helps teachers see if they are following up with the goals they had set for their students. This is great for students that have iEPs or part of intervention groups.
Plan The last portion of BrightLoop is the Plan section. Whenever you had planned a lesson from the Collect Screen, it will be in the bottom dock. You simply click on the lesson and that subject will be highlighted for the week. You then click on a date and your lesson will be scheduled. You can easily reschedule lessons if there are schedule changes by just clicking "Unschedule Lesson."
Why I Recommend It BrightLoop is my favorite app when it comes to taking notes on students. It is so easy to use with the Learnable Standards already programed in, clean interface, and the company is receptive to feedback from teachers. Make sure you check them out at http://brightlooplearning.com or follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brightloop