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Graphite: the new educator/consumer guide for ed tech tools

One of my favorite discoveries at ISTE was Graphite.

Launched by Common Sense Media, the nonprofit known by parents, teachers and librarians for its high quality, nonpartisan reviews and its popular Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum, Graphite promises to be the go-to platform for helping teachers make sense of an exponentially evolving number of digital learning tools.

The site is not only free, it’s also ad-free.

Now in beta, with a full launch planned for August, the goal is to objectively and transparently review and rate educational technologies and to guide busy teachers to the best websites, games, apps and digital curricula that will augment their teaching and to relieve the time-consuming burden of searching, sorting and sifting.

The ISTE panel shared that the vision is for the site to become the Consumer Guide for teachers, with a secret sauce of rigor with a side of reality, and that it plans to create the best possible learning rating system ever–a five-point star system based on the criteria of engagement, pedagogy and supports.

The team of

professional educators – early childhood development experts, doctorates in education, and teachers with hands-on classroom chops – rate each website, game, and app based on our detailed rubric that scores each product on 15 dimensions. Plus, we tag each product for subjects, skills, and grade band and map them to Common Core and other state standards. And every product is rigorously reviewed to dig deeper into what and how your students will learn with it.

Users may search by for resources by keyword, type, subject, grade, and price.  Reviews are highly visual and robust with: pros, cons, bottom lines, supported standards, teacher notes, screenshots, bottom lines, great fors, and much more. Clicking on the + sign reveals a full narrative review.

The Graphite team acknowledges the need to develop critical mass and hopes to grow the site into a dynamic peer network. It welcomes teachers to join, create a profile, and share their personal reviews and field notes about how they use specific websites, games, and apps, and what works best with their studentswhat good looks like.

iCivics review

Down the road, Graphite hopes to also involve student feedback.  The panel shared: We imagine that teacher users will send us their kids to us to share feedback. Older kids know how to do research. They can help us discover tools and we can learn from their input and field notes.

Seeta Pai, Common Sense Media’s Vice President of Research and Digital Content, noted that Graphite’s focus on transparency includes sharing the rubric with the developer community–ensuring that developers hear the voices of educators.

There is a lot of interest from developers who want to be discovered and get guidance on what makes good learning. We get hundreds of requests a week. But it’s church and state. Our Editorial Department has established a clear firewall. Commercial interests will not influence our reviews or ratings.

Also check out Power Up!, Common Sense Media’s printable guide to apps for kids with special needs and learning differences.

TLs: This would be perfect to introduce to teachers in a September newsletter or fall inservice!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. […] Graphite: the new educator/consumer guide for edtech tools – School Library Journal […]

  2. […] Joyce Valenza reports in SLJ that the nonprofit Common Sense Media has a winner in Graphite, now in beta, which provides evaluations and ratings of ed tech tools to help teachers make their […]

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