When implementing new technology in a school or classroom, it’s important to go in with a purpose and a plan. Handing students and teachers laptops or tablets with no support will lead to storage closets full of unused equipment as it did in Hoboken, NJ. So, how do we use technology with meaning and impact? It takes a lot of research and a lot of support. Luckily, there are platforms like Graphite to help us out.
Graphite is a free platform from Common Sense Media that helps educators discover and research the latest in education technology. It’s been around for about a year now, and I’m a little ashamed it took me this long to discover it–it is an amazing discovery tool with built in support for teachers trying to implement technology in their classrooms. And now that I’m done gushing, here’s a little bit about what it is and how you can use it:
What it is:
As I mentioned, Graphite is an edtech discovery platform. It’s a place to learn about the latest apps and tools for teaching and how to use them. The site offers comprehensive reviews of all of the products listed, which can take some of the scary guesswork out of implementation. As CNN Money put it, it’s a “’Consumer Reports’ for ed tech.” It also has a Teacher Center that offers professional development support for effective integration of technology in your curriculum.
Why we like it:
Discovery: There are reviews for many of the latest apps and ed tech tools on Graphite that are written by expert educators, and you can count on them being impartial. There are also field notes from teachers about their personal experiences using each tool. It’s super easy to browse the reviews to learn about new apps and how they can be used.
Support: The Teacher Center gives you all of the tools you need to start using Graphite, and the apps you discover there. We especially like the App Flows, which provide a framework for seamlessly integrating technology into your lesson plans.
Common Core Alignment: The apps on Graphite are searchable by standard. Meaning, if you’re looking for an app to help your students reach a specific standard, you can click on that standard and find an entire list of applicable tools. This helps you make sure the tech is being used meaningfully and with purpose.
How you can use it:
First, go to www.graphite.org and set up an account. The website is completely accessible even when you’re not signed in but, the account is nice for fully participating in the community. With an account, you can get the Graphite newsletter, which delivers featured blog posts to your inbox, and you can submit your own field note reviews of apps and create boards. You can also recommend apps for Graphite to review.
Graphite can be used in a few different ways. If you’re just starting off with new hardware in your classroom, it can be used as a jump-off point for developing an effective implementation plan. Before you put the hardware in students’ hands, know which apps you’ll be using with them and why.
If you’ve already been using a lot of tech in your classroom, the Teacher Center can help you use it more effectively. The App Flow and Common Core Standards alignment will help you make sure you’re getting the most out of the tech.
Things to keep in mind:
Not all tools work for every school and classroom. Just because something gets a positive review on Graphite, doesn’t mean it’s going to be the perfect fit for your students. Leave room in your lessons for experimentation and have back-up plans for when the tech doesn’t work.