top of page

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I use the program?

Morning Check-In is currently free to classroom teachers K-8. Sign up using the form on the "Morning Check-In" page. Specify the number of students in your class and a title for your classroom website. We'll email you a setup link and an onboarding video that shows how to get your classroom started in under 5 minutes.

How do you protect student privacy?

Our software does not ask for any student or teacher information and it does not read information from school systems. The teacher assigns each student a number and only the teacher knows who each number refers to. We protect the anonymous survey data on a secure server and abide by all FERPA amd COPPA laws regarding student answers. We belong to the Education Cooperative's Massachusetts Student Data Privacy Alliance (SDPA), have earned Education Framework's highest privacy rating of 5, and will gladly sign individual privacy agreements with school districtsYou can view our Privacy Policy here.

Who created the program?

Morning Check-In and other Topical Storm survey and writing apps were created by elementary school teachers in Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, and Indiana, an Assistive Technology Specialist, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley Teaching and Learning Lab, and a software developer.  

What's our mission?

Topical Storm began ten years ago as an assisted writing tool (for "brainstorming topics"). Many students are afraid of writing. They are intimidated by the blank page and need coaxing to explore their own ideas. Our goal is to relieve this pressure by guiding the process and asking probing questions to stimulate their thinkingOne student said: "Topical Storm is like writing with a friend."

With the pandemic, it became clear that we must address students' emotional needs before trying to teach them academics. We created SEL-based journaling lessons and surveys to help students express their emotions and think of coping strategies. Morning Check-In is the easiest of these apps for students and teachers to use and the one that provides the most immediate value.

What is the benefit for students and teachers?

Morning Check-In asks students to reflect on their own experiences, then saves the data for the teacher to view. Students appreciate having the opportunity to write directly to their teacher and be heard at the start of a busy school day.


Teachers use the data from Morning Check-In to see which students need additional care. Parents at teacher conferences appreciate when the teacher allows them to follow their child's emotional development during the year. School psychologists have used the data to justify services for at-risk students. 

Where has it been used?

The writing tools were tested in more than 30 classrooms Grades 3-6 in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Minnesota. One 3rd grade classroom spent a whole year writing amazing personal narratives, fiction stories, and arguments about cell phones and homework.


Morning Check-In is beginning its third year at Walpole Public Schools. We would like to roll it out to more schools and are providing it free to test its usefulness.

What devices does it run on?

The program is web-based. It runs best on Chromebooks and laptops with the Chrome browser.

It has not been tested on iPads, and it's difficult to use on iPhones because of the small screens.

Does it integrate with Google Classroom or other LMS?

Morning Check-In is a standalone app with no connection to other systems.  This is on purpose: teachers, counselors, and administrators have complete control over who can access the data.

Copyright (c) 2024 by Steve Herbst. All rights reserved.

bottom of page