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Using Graphite: App smashing in the social studies classroom

If you’re not spending time on the Graphite web site, uh . . .  what are you doing instead? Because I’m gonna suggest that you’ve got a problem with your priorities.

Looking for a handy site that helps you locate useful apps, games, and websites that also provides ratings and reviews? That also includes teacher feedback? That has awesome search and sorting functions? That organizes all of its goodies by Common Core – giving you the chance to find activities aligned to ELA literacy standards for history?

What you’re looking for is Graphite

. . . a free service from nonprofit Common Sense Education designed to help preK-12 educators discover, use, and share the best apps, games, websites, and digital curricula for their students by providing unbiased, rigorous ratings and practical insights from our active community of teachers.

Their team of professional educators – early childhood development experts, doctorates in education, and teachers with hands-on classroom experience – rates each website, game, and app on Graphite based on their detailed rubric. Every product on Graphite is rigorously reviewed to dig deeper into what and how your students will learn with it.

Start with the basics. Head straight to What’s New in Social Studies. Then plan on spending some quality time at the Top Picks for Social Studies. You’re going to find a ton of useful tools, apps, and websites designed specifically for you. Then head to the Lesson Plans section. And be sure to stop by the social studies teacher forums for the latest tips and tricks.

Need an idea of what might be possible using the different apps and tools highlighted at Graphite? Emily, a technology coordinator at Holly Hills Elementary School in Denver shared a great idea of what it can look like what we “smash” apps into a learning activity:

Students used Tellagami to create an “about the author” page or a dedication. They used Chatterpix to make a picture of their explorer talk and share facts in first person. PicCollage allowed them to include many pictures for the cover of their book and we used the Doink Green Screen app to include a “Breaking News Report.”

Students pretended that they were at the base of Pikes Peak, for example, and they reported that Zebulon Pike had just climbed to the top, and they gave facts about it. The creativity from the kids was amazing, and they felt like they were making history come alive! It’s also a great opportunity for them to write across the curriculum. They focused on mini lessons about nonfiction text features as they were creating their e-books. Some students included a picture glossary, chapters, and a table of contents.

Graphite is one of those sites that is specifically designed to make your life easier. So no excuses for why you’re not already over there right now.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Chad Christensen #

    Are most of these apps for Apple? We use Chrombooks in our district.

    April 20, 2016
    • glennw #


      Great question! Graphite reviews all sorts of tools and apps, not just Apple. So you should be able to find sites, apps, and tools that fit your needs.


      April 20, 2016

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