Blog Article

5 Easy Steps to Writing a Great Field Note

When you’re looking for great edtech tools to use in the classroom, where do you turn? If you’re fortunate, you have a circle of trusted colleagues who can provide recommendations and advice. Here at Common Sense Media, we created Graphite to provide unbiased ratings and reviews for educators and to build a community of teachers who can support each other in the pursuit of integrating technology effectively into the classroom.

On Graphite, reviews are written by our educator editorial team and Field Notes are written by current classroom teachers like you from far and wide. That way, you can access free advice for using apps, games, and websites, but also contribute it. We invite you to start contributing your insights and to be a part of building something great. But what are Field Notes, and how do you write a great one?

Field Notes provide an opportunity for teachers to describe their experiences using an app in the classroom and to share their thoughts about what worked and what didn’t. The teacher rating of an app is based on the accrual of Field Notes too. Field notes can vary in length. Some are quick snapshots, while others provide rich descriptions of how an app or website helped a teacher realize specific learning goals.

Field Notes that provide specific examples of student experiences and outcomes are most likely to be useful to other teachers and deepen the conversation around integrating technology into the classroom. 

Here’s how you can join in.

STEP ONE – GET STARTED

  1. Sign in or sign up for Graphite. It’s free.
  2. Pick an app, game, or website you’ve used in the classroom.
  3. Click on the green “Add A Field Note” link in the upper right sidebar.

STEP TWO: WRITE A GREAT HEADLINE

A pop-up will appear with a form for you to complete. Here are some tips for completing the form.
a. Write a compelling headline (70 characters max, including spaces.)

  • It should be a snapshot of the product or its uses.
  • It can be a sentence or phrase.
  • Convey the gist of your evaluation and rating; the reader should know why you rated the product 5 versus 1, or ways it could be used.

b. Examples:

  • Captivating manga romp teaches intuitive game design (5 rating)
  • Handy, flexible story starters require scaffolding (3 rating)
  • Trivia appeals to history buffs but won't convert others (2 rating)


STEP THREE: RATE THE APP FOR ENGAGEMENT, PEDAGOGY and SUPPORT

While rating the product, consider the following questions:

  • ENGAGEMENT Do students want to repeat the experience or play the game again or do they lose interest quickly?
  • PEDAGOGY Does the product build deep understanding about lasting concepts or only provide a superficial survey of content? Does it require critical thinking?
  • SUPPORT Are there resources to extend learning beyond the product, and supports for different kinds of learners?

The OVERALL RATING for Learning Potential (1-5) is a reflection of all three of the dimensions.

STEP FOUR: DESCRIBE YOUR USE IN GREATER DETAIL

The second half of the Field Note invites you to describe your use of the technology in greater detail. Consider these questions when writing your review:

My Take: (1200 characters max, including spaces.)

  • What is your overall opinion about the product as a learning or teaching tool?
  • What did you like?
  • How could the product serve students and/or your teaching better?
  • Be specific, and don't shy away from critique.

How I Use It: (1200 characters max, including spaces.)

  • How did use this product in your teaching? Provide specific examples.
  • What worked?
  • What didn't?
  • Who did you use the product with, for what purpose, and in what setting?
  • What were the specific takeaways for your students?

 

 

You'll also be asked to a indicate how long it would take to get the product up and running in your classroom, what populations and settings it would be best for, and what your students thought of it.

 

STEP FIVE: WATCH THIS QUICK "HOW-TO" VIDEO:

 

We hope you will add a Field Note today.

Some samples of great Field Notes to inspire you: 

Which are your favorite field notes? Do you have tips for how to write a good one? Add a comment below!

 


Comments

Lori Whitt

Hi. I have written a field note but when I click save nothing happens. Your thoughts? I wrote it on the website Geogebra.

Carolyn Brown

Hi I signed up but then I found out this is only K12. Do you have plans for higher-ed? If not remove my subscription.

Amy Wilson
Common Sense Media

We rate and review products for PreK-12 educators, but many of our reviews are applicable to the college audience. Prezi, Evernote, and Khan Academy come to mind. You can manage (and close) your account in the "MY ACCOUNT" section by clicking on the edit tab. Thanks!

Connie Fink
University School of Nashville

I want to write field notes for 2 sites I don't see on your site (searching, nothing comes up). Does writing a request for a site to be "requested for review" count forward my 2 required submitted field notes?

Amy Wilson
Common Sense Media

Connie,
Thank you so much suggesting products for review. At this time, we are not rewarding submissions with the gift card. Check back often as new products are being added to Graphite all the time and we initiating different kinds of promotions all the time too! To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter (@graphite) and subscribe to our newsletters (manage subscriptions in MY ACCOUNT). Thanks again.

Carolyn Brown

When I click the "+field note" button I am taken to my profile page. How do I write a field note from my profile page?

Marlene McG
IS 187

I am not too enthusiastic about Graphite any more. Some teachers use this site are classroom teachers and some are computer lab teachers. There is going to be a variety of types of reviews depending on the type of teacher who uses the site.

Holly Barnes

I wish there was the ability to create your own app review. Unless I can't find it, it seems you can only create a field note for apps that have been added previously. I would like to nominate several apps and websites and review them, but many of them are unlisted.

Erin Wilkey Oh

Hi Holly. Thanks for the suggestion. At the moment, you can suggest a product for review using the link under "Teachers" below. We now create "Teacher Takes" based on these suggestions, which allow you to write Field Notes on apps and sites that we haven't yet reviewed! Go ahead and click the link to submit the names, or you can just reply here in the comments and I'll add them for you.

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