If you bookmark one site I recommend all year, let this be the one. Seriously.


You all know by now how much I rely on CommonSense Media. I use their reviews to help me purchase books, I use their curriculum to teach digital citizenship, and now, I use Graphite. Created in collaboration with the Bill Gates Foundation, CommonSense Media created Graphite to be a resource for teachers who are trying to find the best websites and apps to use in the classroom. It’s visually attractive, and easy to search by subject, grade, price, or platform (app, PC Game, website). The site is like mine, only way, way better! There’s tons of content to explore, including a blog with great ed tech ideas. You can also create “boards,” or collections of apps you use or want to use, and add your own “field notes” based on your experiences.

Common Sense Media

If you’ve had a conversation with me in the last two weeks, you’ve probably heard me talk about Common Sense Media. It is my new favorite resource for digital literacy. I first learned of Common Sense Media as a review site, and have been using its straight-forward book reviews to guide my purchasing for a while. It wasn’t until I started exploring a little that I discovered that book, movie, video game, and website reviews only scratched the surface of the content on this site.

As it turns out, Common Sense Media is an educational non-profit that seeks to teach parents, teachers, and students about using media responsibly. They have created an entire curriculum (grades K-12) on digital literacy and citizenship that is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. There are lessons on the basics, like Internet safety and privacy, but there is also content that addresses the influence of the media on kids and teens, how to manage your digital life, online bullying, and how to evaluate digital media for accuracy, bias, and relevance. There is a separate section that aims to show parents how to effectively teach the importance of media literacy, as well.

In addition to education, Common Sense Media is about advocacy. There is a section of the website devoted to research and policy, and the site makes it easy to contact lawmakers with your concerns and suggestions.

I am planning on beginning to teach the Common Sense curriculum in grades 1-4 starting in March, so stay tuned for more. If you’re interested in learning about the curriculum, you must sign up with Common Sense Media as an educator, but it is free and easy. They don’t spam with emails, though they do occasionally send out very informative articles on media and children.

This is a great resource for educators, but it is also something that I pass along to parents. If you’re struggling with what to tell kids about the media that bombards them every day, everything from the news to movies to the latest celebrity gossip, there is advice on Common Sense Media that is not alarmist or political, but just plain…common sense!

For more on Common Sense Media, come to our next Technophiles meeting. In the meantime, here are some relevant and informative articles to get you started: