Last week we explored Common Sense Media, a wonderful website, and resource for teachers and parents which addresses many concerns and interests related to popular media. This week we’ll be exploring Graphite, a service (from Common Sense Media) that assists educators in finding quality technology resources, strategies, and tools for the classroom.

As an instructional technology coach, teachers are always asking me how they can possibly keep up with changes in technology, new apps, the best classroom strategies, and subject-specific digital resources. As educators, we really do have a responsibility to keep up with all of this in a time period where technology has a huge impact on all we do in our daily lives and in practically every occupation conceivable. However, it can be very overwhelming for anyone to keep up with all that is going on currently in educational circles.

Education Week has done a fabulous job of providing an overview all of the current topics and buzzwords flying around in their recent Spotlight on Education titled Technology in Education: An Overview. While this summary provides a great framework, it does little in assisting teachers with the implementation of technology in their own classrooms. This is where Common Sense Media comes to the rescue, yet again.

Graphite, by Common Sense Media

Graphite is where I send all of my teachers to keep up on educational technology resources, apps and lesson plans that use technology to help students to learn in a variety of subject areas and develop digital age learner skills. Allow me to share a few of my favorite Graphite features:

Reviews and Ratings

This is probably my favorite section in Graphite. The quick and easy search allows educators to find out what Graphite’s experts rate each of the tools and why, in addition to highlighting what other educators in the field have to say. It also lists the platform that supports each of the tools, whether there is a cost for the app or service, a brief description of the tool, and a detailed report. All of this together provides a well-rounded snapshot of everything a busy teacher needs to get started with each tool.

graphite Reviews and Ratings

To top all of this, the search functionality of the site is one of the best around. In the example below, selections have been made in the filtering of information to narrow down the query to free iPad apps relevant to 10th graders. Upon navigating to specific skills supported by the apps, we can see an extensive list of subcategories of the selected Critical Thinking section, along with the number of apps reviewed.


While Graphite has some great information and resources for educators to spend time perusing in their sections on Lessons Plans, Professional Development, Collections, and Teacher Discussions, I find the page containing Digital Classroom Blog posts to be one of the best in which to spend those precious few moments we may be able to squeeze into our day. You will find quite a wide range of topics within the blog posts that would meet the needs of all subject area and grade level instructors and administrators.

As an example of the high-quality content within this blog, I direct you to one of my favorite posts, 5 Ways Video Games Can Help Kids with Special Needs. I was introduced to this post because I subscribed to the blog to receive email updates of recent posts which I may have an interest in reading. The subscription acts as a great reminder when my days get too busy for me to remember to take a look at the latest updates. In this particular post you can learn all about the attributes of video games specifically intended for special needs students’ mental and physical growth.

News Flash! Just Announced!

The Common Sense Media website and their currently separate Graphite website are merging together. Saving materials, accessing ideas, and researching for resources will be even easier with the upgrade to the website coming soon. From the Common Sense Media folks:

“Our first step is consolidating our Twitter presence into one account. Today, @Graphite becomes @CommonSenseEd. Be sure to follow us if you haven’t already! Then, in July, Graphite will become Common Sense Education. All the great reviews, lesson plans, and videos you’re familiar with will remain easily accessible — with a new name and URL.”

Keep exploring and share some of your favorite posts and resources from graphite in the comments section below!
Carol Roth is a professional development and technology coach for Central York School District. She is a passionate technology integrator certified in supervision and administration. She also teaches for Eduspire.
You can follow Carol on Twitter: @rothscience.