Common Classroom: The Common Sense Education Blog

5 Easy Steps to Writing a Great Field Note on Graphite

Audrey Stokes Associate Product Manager, Education Categories: In the Classroom, Common Sense Resources
Associate Product Manager, Education

When you’re looking for great edtech tools to use in the classroom, where do you turn? If you’re fortunate, you have a circle of trusted colleagues who can provide recommendations and advice. Here at Common Sense Media, we created Graphite to provide unbiased ratings and reviews for educators and to build a community of teachers who can support each other in the pursuit of integrating technology effectively into the classroom.

On Graphite, reviews are written by our educator editorial team and Field Notes are written by current classroom teachers like you from far and wide. That way, you can access free advice for using apps, games, and websites, but also contribute it. We invite you to start contributing your insights and to be a part of building something great. But what are Field Notes, and how do you write a great one?

Field Notes provide an opportunity for teachers to describe their experiences using an app in the classroom and to share their thoughts about what worked and what didn’t. The teacher rating of an app is based on the accrual of Field Notes too. Field notes can vary in length. Some are quick snapshots, while others provide rich descriptions of how an app or website helped a teacher realize specific learning goals.

Field Notes that provide specific examples of student experiences and outcomes are most likely to be useful to other teachers and deepen the conversation around integrating technology into the classroom. 

Here’s how you can join in.


  1. Sign in or sign up for Graphite. It’s free.
  2. Pick an app, game, or website you’ve used in the classroom.
  3. Click on the green “Add A Field Note” link in the upper right sidebar.


A pop-up will appear with a form for you to complete. Here are some tips for completing the form.
a. Write a compelling headline (70 characters max, including spaces.)

  • It should be a snapshot of the product or its uses.
  • It can be a sentence or phrase.
  • Convey the gist of your evaluation and rating; the reader should know why you rated the product 5 versus 1, or ways it could be used.

b. Examples:

  • Captivating manga romp teaches intuitive game design (5 rating)
  • Handy, flexible story starters require scaffolding (3 rating)
  • Trivia appeals to history buffs but won't convert others (2 rating)​



While rating the product, consider the following questions:

  • ENGAGEMENT Do students want to repeat the experience or play the game again or do they lose interest quickly?
  • PEDAGOGY Does the product build deep understanding about lasting concepts or only provide a superficial survey of content? Does it require critical thinking?
  • SUPPORT Are there resources to extend learning beyond the product, and supports for different kinds of learners?

The OVERALL RATING for Learning Potential (1-5) is a reflection of all three of the dimensions.


The second half of the Field Note invites you to describe your use of the technology in greater detail. Consider these questions when writing your review:

My Take: (1200 characters max, including spaces.)

  • What is your overall opinion about the product as a learning or teaching tool?
  • What did you like?
  • How could the product serve students and/or your teaching better?
  • Be specific, and don't shy away from critique.

How I Use It: (1200 characters max, including spaces.)

  • How did use this product in your teaching? Provide specific examples.
  • What worked?
  • What didn't?
  • Who did you use the product with, for what purpose, and in what setting?
  • What were the specific takeaways for your students?



You'll also be asked to a indicate how long it would take to get the product up and running in your classroom, what populations and settings it would be best for, and what your students thought of it.



Once you have clicked "Submit" on your Field Note, you will have an opportunity to also add a lesson plan. You can go into as much or as little depth as you want when you add your lesson plan.

The interface is divided up into several tabs, including cost, preparation, objectives, steps, takeaways and assessments, and homework assignments.


We hope you will add a Field Note today.

Some samples of great Field Notes to inspire you: 

Which are your favorite field notes? Do you have tips for how to write a good one? Add a comment below!

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