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Blog

5 Easy Steps to Writing a Great Teacher Review

Add your voice to Graphite by rating and reviewing tools.

July 31, 2013
Erin Wilkey Oh
Executive Editor, Education Content
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, CA
16
comments

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. Common Sense Graphite can also be a trusted resource for you. Graphite provides unbiased ratings and reviews of edtech for educators and is home to a community of teachers who can support each other in integrating classroom technology effectively.

On Graphite, a team of expert educators use our research-based rubric to create Editorial Reviews of products, then teachers like you can add their own Teacher Reviews as well. That way, you can both access and contribute free advice for using apps, games, and websites in the classroom. We invite you to start contributing your insights and be a part of building something great. But how do you write a great Teacher Review?

Teacher Reviews provide an opportunity for educators to describe their experiences using an app in the classroom and to share their insights about what worked and what didn’t. The teacher rating of an app is an average of all the ratings from the Teacher Reviews for that tool. Teacher Reviews 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.

Teacher Reviews 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.

1. Get Started

  • Sign in or sign up for Common Sense Graphite. It’s free.
  • Find the Editorial Review of an app, game, or website you’ve used in the classroom.
  • Click on the blue and white “Write Review” button above the images in the top right.

2. Write a Great Headline

A pop-up will appear with a form for you to complete. Here are some tips for completing the form.

Write a compelling headline.

  • 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.

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)​​

3. Rate the App for Engagement, Pedagogy, and Support

While rating the tool, consider the following questions:

  • Engagement -- Do students want to repeat the experience or do they lose interest quickly?
  • Pedagogy -- Does the tool build deep understanding about lasting concepts or provide only a superficial survey of content? Does it require critical thinking?
  • Support -- Are there resources to extend learning beyond the tool, and supports for different kinds of learners?

The Overall Learning Rating (1-5) should be a reflection of all three of the dimensions.

4. Describe How You Use It in Greater Detail

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

How I Use It: 

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

My Take:

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

You'll also be asked to indicate which purposes and student populations the tool is best for.

5. Watch This Quick How-To Video:

 

We hope you'll add a Teacher Review today.

Some samples of great Teacher Reviews to inspire you: 

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


Comments

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.

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.

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
Common Sense Media

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.

I am interested in becoming a Graphite Certified Educator. This is my first note. I don't know if I am the only one having problems, but when trying to view any of the "How to" videos on Common Sense Media I get a "Connection was interrupted" message and haven't been able to read watch any of them. While exploring this site, I found this blog about how to write a field note. Now I have a better understanding of what to do.

Erin Wilkey Oh
Common Sense Media

Great question, Tiffany! If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll see "Request a Product for Review" under "Teachers" in the footer. Submit your request, and within a month we'll put up a "Teacher Take" and notify you that it's up. A "Teacher Take" allows you to write a Field Note before we've reviewed the app. You'll also be able to add the app to a Graphite App Flow or Board.