Teaching the #CharlestonSyllabus

Help students think deeply and critically about racism in the U.S.

When nine worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, West Virginia, were murdered on June 17, 2015, social media news feeds quickly filled with opinionated posts about the impacts, meaning, and historical precedents surrounding the event.  And though some of the articles about the Charleston shooting certainly came from questionable sources created for Facebook and Twitter sensationalism, social media also offered us opportunities to engage in deep discussions, learn about historical context, and develop informed opinions about the causes of this horrific tragedy. A crowd sourced compilation of resources and readings, the #CharlestonSyllabus can be a powerful teaching tool for helping middle more

Announcing Digital Citizenship on Nearpod!

Our award-winning curriculum gets paired with an award-winning platform.

Peter Hale, #TeenWolf, once said, "Perfect combinations are rare in an imperfect world." And although that may be true, there are those rare times in history when certain things come together and nothing short of magic happens. For food lovers, it's the perfect combination of peanut butter and jelly, fish and chips, or Oreo cookies and cold milk. And when an award-winning curriculum gets paired with an award-winning platform, well, you guessed it -- it's magic. Today we're thrilled to announce the perfect combination for your classroom: Common Sense Education and Nearpod have partnered to offer educators the chance to harness the full potential of technology for learning.  Our partnership with more

13 Apps and Websites for Improving Parent-Teacher Communication

Phone calls, emails, and overbooked parent-teacher conferences are some of the more familiar ways to connect with parents. But these options aren't always the most productive. The apps and websites featured this week offer instant, practical, and simple ways to keep parents updated and students engaged in their learning. So this year, do you want to: Discuss topics and spur collaboration with parents and students? Check out Collaborize Classroom. See a visual timeline of your students' progress that you can share with parents? Give ClassDojo a try. Reach parents quickly and securely, while engaging your students, too? Head to Remind or ClassDojo Messenger. Create a more

5 Strategies for Teaching Close Reading with Tech

Use these tips and tools to get kids to dive deep into a text.

When we think of close reading, we imagine students wrangling a set of colored highlighters, books stuffed with sticky notes, and text margins filled with hand-scrawled observations and questions. While these methods are essential for close reading, they can be a hassle to manage. Surely technology can offer us an easier way! If we focus on the methods and purposes for close reading, we can more easily see how digital tools might streamline -- or even enhance -- the close reading process. When we’re doing a close read, we're not just focusing on the main idea but diving deeper into the text and peeling back the layers to develop a greater understanding. Keep in mind, this doesn’t come more

How "Hard Fun" Promotes Passionate Learning

Want to create gritty, impassioned, self-reliant learners? Get behind learning games.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” -- Samuel Beckett A few years ago, Kurt Squire recalled sitting in his high school history class as a young student, listening as a teacher quizzed the class on Spanish colonialization. In a Ferris Bueller moment, the teacher asked if someone -- anyone! -- knew what kinds of ships each European nation had. Squire raised his hand, and as if channeling the textbook, said the Spanish had galleons to carry gold. "The French mostly had barques. The Dutch, fluyts. The English, merchantmen. If you saw a pinnace, that was French, Dutch, maybe even a pirate." Squire explained that the Dutch "were mostly traders. They didn’t have more

12 Tested and Trusted Classroom Management Tools

Teachers know that teaching students is only one of the many responsibilities of being an educator. From lesson planning  and grading to classroom management and assessment to just staying on schedule, it's a lot to juggle. Thankfully, there are some great tech tools to help manage some of these tasks and take away a bit of the stress. These top-rated classroom management apps and websites will help to: Boost student participation (ClassCharts, StickPick) Track and manage behavior (ClassDojo) Monitor noise levels (SilentLight, TooNoisy Pro) Keep kids on task (Time Timer) Encourage collaboration (Groupmaker) Organize workflow (Skaffl, Showbie) With these apps and more

7 Tips for Moving Students to a Growth Mindset

Try these strategies to promote risk-taking and perseverance.

Some students come into school believing that they're either smart or not. That kind of thinking is a fixed mindset. They see failure as the end of the road rather than recognizing its learning value. To "fail" does not mean being unsuccessful. FAIL is simply our “First Attempt In Learning.” Three years ago, I was introduced to Carol Dweck and her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. That book altered my outlook on both my teaching and parenting. It helped me change my own mindset on things that I thought were difficult or talents I thought I didn't have, like drawing, painting, and even writing. By tackling these challenging activities myself and changing the words I use with my more

EdTech Quick Take: Educreations vs. Explain Everything

A teacher-focused showdown between two top-rated interactive whiteboard and screencasting apps.

Few teaching and learning tools are as useful as whiteboards. (And for those of us who love chalk, dust, and the occasional spine-rattling squeak: blackboards.) It’s the simplicity, elegance, and versatility of whiteboards that make them nearly ubiquitous in classrooms everywhere. It’s no surprise, then, that reviews of interactive whiteboards get some of the most traffic on Graphite. Here’s the thing, though: Because interactive whiteboards are so popular, there are a lot of good ones out there -- it can be tough to tell what makes one app different from another. It’s especially tough now that most offer a screencasting feature, something that used to be a big differentiator. In this more

Films, Edu Resources, and Global Conversation for Second Annual Character Day

Join us for a global film premiere Sept. 18!

With so many more devices and messages today feeding us information and shaping who we are, I think it’s incredibly poignant that there’s such a renewed interest in character education bubbling up from so many different sectors of society. I know educators have been working on integrating character education into our schools for many years, and it’s exciting as a filmmaker to take a subject as rich and complex as character and try to bring these ideas to life in an engaging and accessible way for students, teachers, parents, and really everyone. As the world becomes more complex, we’re all craving guides, tools, and practices to lead meaningful, successful, and purposeful lives in today’s world. Last more

What's Your Growth Mindset?

Embrace the challenge and reach your potential!

This school year, Common Sense Education is focusing on this powerful question: What's your growth mindset? You may have heard of "growth mindset," a term coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, in her bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In it, Dweck talks about the difference between a "fixed mindset," in which people perceive abilities and skills as inherent or permanent, versus a "growth mindset," which focuses on developing and "stretching" through a love of learning and embracing challenge. Dweck's message is that we can change our mindset, motivating ourselves -- and the kids in our lives -- to fulfill our potential. I more