The following information was released by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has awarded $3 million to Common Sense Media to support the expansion of Graphite, a free ratings and reviews platform that enables teachers to discover digital curricula, apps, websites and games that are effective for their students, the foundation announced today.
Since the website’s launch in August, Common Sense Media’s team of education experts and teachers has reviewed nearly a thousand digital learning tools that can be used in the classroom. Their unbiased, independent critiques are accompanied by “field notes” on best ways to use these products with students, contributed by the community of more than 130,000 Common Sense Media registered educators. With the help of The Broad Foundation grant, Common Sense Media will add new features to Graphite to improve the user experience, develop a mobile version, grow the library of reviews and vastly expand its reach among K-12 teachers nationwide.
“Teachers know what’s best for their students. Graphite enables teachers to learn from their peers, rather than from advertising, what tools are most effective for student learning,” said Luis de la Fuente, The Broad Foundation’s senior director who oversees investments in personalized learning.
The foundation’s investment comes at a time when teachers across the country are exploring how to best integrate technology into teaching and learning. According to a survey conducted last year by PBS LearningMedia, while nearly half of all pre-K-12 teachers are already using interactive technologies in the classroom, more than two-thirds of teachers want more technology in their classrooms. That figure is even higher in lower-income communities, where three-quarters of teachers are eager to use more technology.
“With the generous support of The Broad Foundation, Common Sense Media is furthering its mission to help educators and students harness the power of technology for learning,” said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. “This next evolution of Graphite will make it an even more powerful resource for teachers to discover, share and use the best digital tools for teaching, elevate their practice and transform learning for millions of kids.”
Common Sense Media’s Graphite offers a way for teachers to find the right tools for their students. On the website, teachers can sort reviews by the type of technology, subject, grade level, price and what technology is required. Each review explains which Common Core State Standards a tool helps teach and which students—including English language learners and students with disabilities—may benefit most. Ratings focus on how well a tool teaches a lesson or skill, while also taking into account whether it holds student interest and offers support for teachers.
In addition to helping Graphite expand its teacher community and its trove of reviews, the foundation’s investment will help Common Sense Media create a library of free online lesson plans for teachers who are implementing digital tools in the classroom—some authored by Common Sense Media’s expert reviewer team, others by the site’s teacher members. The site will also expand to include an online forum for teachers to connect with each other and with students’ parents.
About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is the leading independent non-profit dedicated to helping kids, families and teachers thrive in a world of media and technology. The organization’s ratings and reviews of popular media give families a choice and a voice in the media they consume. Free educator resources include a K-12 digital literacy and citizenship curriculum that is used in more than 66,000 schools nationwide. With research on kids’ media use and policy initiatives, the organization is a national non-partisan resource on issues that shape the media’s impact on kids. Common Sense Media’s Graphite was developed and launched in August 2013 through an ongoing collaboration with Bill Gates and builds off of a rating and review initiative for parents funded by SCE. For more information, visit www.commonsense.org.
About the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
Founded by entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a philanthropy that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed. Bringing together top education experts and practitioners, the foundation funds system-wide programs and policies that strengthen public schools by creating environments that allow good teachers to do great work and enable students of all backgrounds to learn and thrive. For more information, please visit www.broadeducation.org.