About six months ago, I attended an informal gathering at Apple for about 40 educators who were sharing best practices for integrating technology into the classroom. As Senior Manager of Digital Learning at Common Sense Media, I’m always interested in how teachers are grappling with and capitalizing on the latest developments in educational technology. At this gathering, the teachers were quite candid as they discussed not only their successes, but also the challenges they faced using digital learning tools seamlessly in their daily classrooms practices. As a former teacher, I empathized with the task of trying to do yet “one more new thing.” And while they were motivated about discovering new digital tools, many admitted to getting stuck on how to take the next step.
Several educators started to describe the compelling idea of using more than one digital learning tool purposefully throughout a lesson to reach learning objectives. They were thinking beyond substitution (see the SAMR model below) to plan for where, why, and how the technology could flow through a lesson, transforming particular lesson activities, to reach end goals. Instead of reinventing the wheel, they leaned on their past practices and leveraged digital learning tools to redefine their lessons’ activities. Rather than creating brand-new lessons, they were flowing technology through their tried-and-true lessons to enrich students’ learning experiences.
Source: Ruben R. Puentedura, PhD
With these insights in mind, here at Common Sense, we've developed a new concept for Graphite called Lesson Flows. Lesson Flows provide a customizable framework that redefines the traditional lesson plan by integrating digital learning tools and content with pedagogical intent. Quite simply, you can discover tools on Graphite and then align them to each part of your lesson –- the hook, direct instruction, guided practice, independent practice, and wrap-up –- thinking with purpose about your lesson redesign.
In introducing this interactive framework, we have three goals in mind:
- To guide teachers to reflect on where they're aligning digital learning tools within a lesson, why the tools best fit those particular activities, and how the activities themselves are being augmented
- To encourage blended learning opportunities by prompting teachers to mix in media-rich activities with traditional pencil-and-paper activities
- To illustrate how technology can be used throughout a lesson plan, especially if used in the teaching (for you!) and in the learning (for students!)
We recommend starting small and adding a digital tool or two in a Lesson Flow of your own (see the green button below); you’ll grow in confidence and creativity from there. On Graphite, you can save and share your Lesson Flows, and be inspired by what others are doing in their classrooms. We’re listening to you, our educators, and we hope that you’ll find this interactive tool to be a practical, hands-on and applicable way to introduce your students to the many innovative digital learning tools available today.
Take a look at some of the Lesson Flows we’ve created (utilizing not just apps but websites, games, and digital curricula, too) and let us know what you think. Then take that first step to create your own!
For more information about Lesson Flows, watch our introductory video: