Blog: In the Classroom

Hands-On Learning Goes High-Tech

Design thinking encourages students to engage, expand, and explore.

The sounds of drilling and sawing fill the room. Students design and collaborate on the whiteboard walls while other students are creating, filming, or programming. This may not seem like your typical geometry classroom, but it's a day in the life of the Design Den at the Harpeth Hall School. Harpeth Hall School is an independent college preparatory school for girls in grades 5 through 12 that encourages them to think critically, lead confidently, and live honorably. Our school houses the Center for STEM Education for Girls, and recently opened the Design Den, a place for students to imagine, design, and create. The Design Den is different from any other place on campus, housing 3-D printers, a laser cutter, power....read more


5 Great Video Resources for Middle and High School Classrooms

Add these resources to your toolkit to inspire and engage students.

Videos are a great way to engage students while also bringing a variety of voices and perspectives into your instruction. Both captivating and informative, video is unique among other digital media in the way that it can so readily transcend the walls of your classroom. As the amount of video content on the Web expands, there is of course lots of great educational content that can help you bring the world to your students.    But the Web is a pretty big haystack, and it can be hard to keep up with what's new and find the best content for your class. Nevertheless, searching for great educational videos is worth it -- showing the perfect video or clip in a le....read more


Big Ideas and Key Takeaways from the #GraphiteChat on Project-Based Learning

A collection of top tweets from the first #GraphiteChat, held on April 16, 2015

The Graphite team hosted our very first #GraphiteChat on Twitter last Thursday, April 16, 2015. The topic was something close to our hearts: project-based learning (PBL). And while we were excited, we were also a bit nervous. Do other people love talking #PBL as much as we do? Would anyone even show up? Are we asking the right questions? To our relief, these worries were put quickly to rest. You all -- that is, educators, including a healthy group of our beloved Graphite Certified Educators -- not only showed up, but impressed and inspired us with your perceptive and inspiring understanding of PBL, frank discussion of advantages and challenges, innovative tools and project ideas, and generous tips and tricks for teachers....read more


The Benefits of Interactive Games in the Classroom

An Interview with Dr. Michael Carter

Common Sense is excited to launch Digital Compass, a new choose-your-own adventure interactive for middle schoolers. Coming April 16, Digital Compass helps kids explore how the decisions they make in their digital lives can impact their relationships and futures. On the eve of launching Digital Compass, I spoke with Dr. Michael Carter, a cognitive development expert and gaming guru, on how an interactive like Digital Compass can be beneficial in the classroom. What role can gaming play in a classroom or learning environment? Scholars and practitioners have for decades studied the use of games in classrooms and found that good games that foster learning prove to engage students, particularly disaffected students, in such a way as to imp....read more


Announcing Digital Compass

Common Sense Education’s digital literacy and citizenship resources have played an integral role in addressing the technological revolution that is happening in today’s classrooms. Having touched more than 200,000 teachers who have educated over 5 million students, this forward-thinking program addresses what it’s like to behave responsibly in the digital age.   Our suite of resources gives educators the tools to introduce reliable, research-based information to students about digital media and its impact. Fostering an organic classroom dialogue goes hand-in-hand with access to interactive activities. The conversation moves beyond the classroom by introducing parent resources and educator development opportunities ....read more


Reduce Waste, Save Space, Increase Learning

Teachers and students can easily create their own iBooks.

Schools have closets and storerooms stacked floor to ceiling with textbooks. For decades, kids’ backs have bent and their backpacks burst from the weight of heavy books. Today, technology has the power to lighten the load and reduce the waste and expense of traditional textbooks. With ebooks, information is easily updated without the need for a new printing. Tablets can hold much more information than dozens of textbooks, and are much easier on students’ backs and school storage space. Best of all, though, teachers and students can create -- and share -- their own learning materials easily using content-creation tools like iBooks Author. Let’s explore a few ways teachers and students can publish their own learning mater....read more


EdTech Quick Take: Evernote Vs. Notability

A quick look at how these popular note-taking tools can work in the classroom.

Both Evernote and Notability are great digital note-taking tools for teachers and students. But which is best for classroom use? Both tools offer a host of similar functions, but some key differences might make one a better choice than the other, depending on your needs. For students, these tools promote good note-taking while also modeling organization skills. The ability to add and embed a variety of digital media within notes takes students' note-taking to a whole new level. From images, Web links, and videos to sketching tools and live audio recordings, taking notes -- and studying -- can become a more interactive experience.  What's more, both Evernote and Notability can be incredibly useful for teacher....read more


Announcing Our First #GraphiteChat on Twitter!

Here at Common Sense, we're wildly passionate about helping educators learn best practices for teaching with technology. On Graphite, our amazing community of educators have been hard at work sharing innovative and practical ways to use tech to engage learners through thousands of Field Notes, Lesson Flows, and Boards. It's now time to take this conversation, and these great ideas, to Twitter! We're excited to announce the first ever #GraphiteChat on Thursday, April 16, from 4 to 5 p.m. PST. Titled "Weaving Tech into Teaching with Project-Based Learning," this live, one-hour discussion will be hosted by the Graphite handle @graphite and facilitated by Tanner Higgin, senior manager of education content for Co....read more


Sustainable Learning with Sustainable Bulletin Boards

Showcase student creations with augmented reality.

We hear about sustainability often today, and for educators, it can have different meanings. Usually we hear it in the context of natural resources such as oil and gas, and developing ways to conserve or, even better, come up with more sustainable and renewable resources. In education, we use it in the context of a student’s ability to retain knowledge or reproduce proof of learning, or a student's ability to learn and grow independently beyond the initial lesson. Is the resource temporary? Is the learning temporary? Or are they sustainable? Looking at the idea of sustainability from both angles brings us to paper -- or, more specifically, bulletin boards and their vast, continual use of a natural resource at great financi....read more


The Beginning of BYOD in New York City Schools

Devices in the Classroom, Part 5

On March 2, 2015, the New York City Department of Education lifted its school cell phone ban. Students are now allowed to bring cell phones and other personal electronic devices to school. Each school is tasked with creating its own cell phone and electronic device policy for students. This brings some challenges but also many exciting opportunities for those schools willing to explore the possibilities of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program. I recently chatted via email with Jackie Patanio, technology coach at Public School 16 in Staten Island, N.Y., and Carolyn Semet, technology specialist at Intermediate School 230 in Jackson Heights, N.Y. I wanted to hear how things were going for them and the teachers they work with one mont....read more


Pages