Last week I made an effort to add photos of student work to my BrightLoop record during writing workshop. I started teaching a unit on Fantasy writing that is outside of the K-1 curriculum materials for Lucy Calkins Units of Study in Writing. I developed this unit on my own using the tools and methods from Units of Study. I try to keep good records of the anchor charts and lessons as I go. BrightLoop has already helped me save artifacts from this unit as I teach it. I knew I would want some record of the work we are doing but I also knew that my students were not going to let me keep their writing. They are so excited about writing fantasy stories and they can’t wait to take them home to share with their parents. Photocopied student work is never the same as it lacks color and many of the word don’t copy that well. As I met with each student I snapped a picture of their story and wrote a quick summary of the plan they shared with me. Each day as I meet with the students I can refer back to their original work to see how much progress they have made. As I plan our lessons for the days ahead I look at the work samples and read my notes to help me decide which mini lessons need to be taught. For example, I met with several students who started their stories without using an opening sentences such as “Once upon a time.” I decided I needed to teach a mini lesson about story starters the following day.
The photos of student work will help me with my report cards next week as I assess their progress in writing. They will also help me this summer as I study their work and plan for next year. Like most teachers, I have a large stack of professional reading I am hoping to dive into over the summer. Many of the titles I plan to read are about Literacy and Math instruction. As I read and learn more I can refer to my student work samples from BrightLoop from wherever I happen to be this summer. I’m also attending a couple professional conferences this summer. I hope having my BrightLoop records on hand will help me think about my students and their work as I am learning about new ideas. I plan to share BrightLoop and my student work samples with the teachers I meet at the EdCamp conference I am attending.
I am lucky enough to teach a multiage classroom so all the Kindergarten students in my class this year will be first graders in my room next year. These photos of their work and the notes I keep at the end of Kindergarten can be compared to their work with the end of first grade next year and I don’t have to find room for more paper in my filing cabinets! I am looking forward to having my BrightLoop records from this year to refer to as work with these same students this year. It will be so much easier to track their growth since Kindergarten if I can go back and read my notes and view their work samples.
Now that BrightLoop is a regular tool in my teacher toolbox I am looking forward to expanding my use for next year. How can BrightLoop help you meet your summer goals?
Nikki is a National Board Certified Teacher in Montana, 2014 PBS Digital Innovator, SENG facilitator. She is a wife, mother, passionate about technology integration and GT education. You can follow her on Twitter at @NVradenburg