Product Index
Teacher Needs
In Summit Reflections, educators review tools that they have seen at an EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit. Summit Reflections can only be completed onsite at the event; reviewers are incentivized to leave reviews.
Laura, Instrumental Music Teacher. School Type: Elementary School
Feb 20, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: Common Curriculum is like a digital plan book. All of the lessons you create are stored in the same place, ready to access whenever you need them. I am a visual learner, so I love the calendar-based layout of the program. It provides a great visual of all of your plans for the year, organized automatically by date and time.

With the aid of Common Curriculum's organizational tools, I can see myself becoming much more organized. The Long Range Planner would allow me to see the relationship between each of my music units, and planning concert preparation over several months would be easier.

I think the best feature is the collaborative base of the program. As an elementary instrumental music teacher, the majority of my lessons are pull-out style. With access to my 5th grade teacher's plans, I could adjust my lesson schedule to avoid tests or important lessons on my own & far more in advance. I could also coordinate my 4th grade exploratory music classes with their classroom units much easier, and also far in advance.

Strengths: Teacher coordination: Aligning lessons between classes or coteaching would be very easy. Teachers could access plans from another school or at home. I really like this feature because I travel between two different schools and sometimes its very difficult to meet with other teachers to collaborate.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would like the ability to organize the class list into categories rather than just one long list. I teach several different subjects at two different schools, so my class list is quite long.

Adding an area for class lists or seating charts would be really helpful. Some of my lessons are in other teacher's classrooms & I would love having instant access to a seating chart. When teachers decide to reconfigure the room or change seats, I would be able to find out before walking in the classroom!

An area for sub plans would be great! In emergency situations, another teacher or administrator would be able to access them.

Verdict: This product is a great way to foster collaboration between teachers. Common grade level teachers could compare lessons, and special area teachers could more readily coordinate their plans to reinforce what students are doing in their regular classrooms. Teachers could also easily share their lesson plans with administrators. Common Curriculum Planner's formatting is quite straightforward, and the company that maintains it seems very invested in maintaining their product ("Vote for Features" box in top right corner). Also, the application is free!

Instructional Support Teacher, School Type: Elementary School, Low Income Population
Feb 21, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this product to assist some of my mentee teachers (Early Career Teachers) in their efforts for lesson panning. In looking at this teacher tool, there were many features that would be beneficial to these teachers. For example, the flexibility of having the formatting for daily, weekly, and unit plans readily available. Many of the teachers are completng lesson plans day-to-day and it takes them quite awhile, but this tool makes it easier and efficient to get the lesson planning completed, so more time can be spent on the actual preparation of instruction. It also identifies CCSS relevent to the skill being taught. This saves time and guess work in searching for standards. Collaboration is a key component to teacher success, so having several teachers signed up for the site will allow teachers to share plans and activities much easier and provide feedback. Last, the homework feature will keep track of what home assignments were provided and when they were provided. All of these examples are organizational tools that the Early Career Teachers need to develop.

Strengths: It removes the guess work in lesson preparation for teachers. It provides a clear organizational system as far as les plan compoenents for anyone to follow. The drag and drop features saves time in planning. Best of all it's free!!!

Suggestions for Improvement: In thinking of the variety of teachers I work with and their level of technology efficiency, I would want the tool to provide tutorials for the basic user. I would want it so attractive to someone who is uncomfortable with usng the computer that they feel that they can't live without it by the end of the year.I think I would also include a trial practice for teachers to try ut out before they sign up. Lots of times if I can't use something without signing up for it I don't sign up, because I don't want lots of advertisement emails. Allow teachers to actually navigate it to some extent before they sign up.

Verdict: I would recommend it because we are big on consistency in expectations and procedures at our school. This would allow all teachers to use the same planning system. It would also be a tracking system for materials and activities used as part of the lessons. Teachers could share materials without having to be face-to-face or send an email to request something. They could access it at their own leasure.

Art Teacher, School Type: High School
Feb 22, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this program to plan lessons and communicate with other educators in my school. It will also allow me to make information such as PPTs, documents, images, etc available to my students and others on class websites.

Strengths: This product acts like digital sticky notes. When creating a lesson, you are able to modify information, move around activities, and share content from your lessons on a class website. You are able to choose which information becomes available online and it is done with just the click of a button. By giving you unlimited space to save and upload your information, Common Curriculum eliminates the step of saving information/lessons in individual documents on your computer, which can take up a lot of space.

As a teacher, you are able to share your lessons with one other teacher for free. This feature can be valuable to educators teaching the same lessons, and helps keep you from planning alone.

Suggestions for Improvement: 1. This program could make it possible to have more than one lesson template per class. It is nice to have the opportunity to change the layout of your lessons and switch things up a bit.

2. Adding more than one teacher to share information costs $100/teacher/year. Decreasing the cost of sharing would be helpful to teachers like me, who have to buy a lot of materials for students outside of the school budget.

3. The current setup for Common Curriculum does not allow for an Aday, Bday schedule. Making an adjustment to include this type of calendar would be helpful for daily planning.

Verdict: I would recommend this program to others for a variety of reasons. This set up allows for quick, efficient planning, flexibility, and open communication. In addition, the program gives you access to state and national standards for lessons, and is free for teachers!

Krisha, Ed Tech Specialist. School Type: High School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population, College Prep School, Blended Learning
Jan 28, 2017

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I am no longer a classroom teacher, but I would have used this quite a bit for lesson planning when I was. I especially would have liked the collaborative feature when I was a student teacher (i.e., going through a preparation program), because I had so many mentors who I had to share my lesson plans with at the time.

Currently, I am an e-learning curriculum specialist, and I am currently working on creating online courses to sell to schools. This would help me a lot when it comes to planning and organizining the curriculum/lesson plans for the online courses I'm building (i.e., to plan course storyboards). I like that I can work collaboratively (so I can build the online courses with support from others, like SMEs). And I like the easy ability to download/print the lesson plans, so I can share them as resources with the schools/teachers who decide to use our online courses.

Strengths: I love the ability to integrate with Google Docs, so I don't have to worry about changing files messing up any of the lessons (and about the ability to move around the schedule based on cancelled classes; like snow days).

Suggestions for Improvement: This is the only product I saw today where I can't think of any improvements for it. I was initially concerned about not having CTE standards or the NVAS/NMAS (National Visual Arts Standards/National Media Arts Standards) from the NAEA (National Art Education Association), but I was so happy to see the CTE standards already listed, and the ability to add in the NVAS/NMAS. :-)

Verdict: The collaborative feature and the standards-searching feature are some of the strongest features it has. Standards-alignment is difficult to do on your own, and we are always encouraged to collaborate (epecially with STEAM).

Elizabeth, Teacher. School Type: Elementary School, Low Income Population
Feb 22, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this every day, to manipulate lessons, give and receive feedback from my team and mentor. I am really excited to try it out! You can move lessons around, copy and paste, add activities from power point and other documents to lessons so everything is all in one place. I would use it as the jumping off point for planning my daily activities since everything is broken up so well, I can really move things around and change them without having to erase in my plan book or look through piles of papers for activities I've used in the past. We have a half day scheduled from planning every few weeks, this would be really helpful for creating and sharing group lessons so while we were planning we could easily build lessons and pull from multiple digital resources at one time.

Strengths: You can really keep yourself organized (which for me is HUGE)! I love that everything is accesable in one place and I can share and pull ideas from other teachers and my mentor can give me fast and easy feedback.

Suggestions for Improvement: 1.) I would add something like google chat so you can talk to the people your connected with instantly.

2.) I would make the documents that you add editable. So when you edit a document on your computer you don't need to resave it, it automatically saves to your plan.

3.) I would make the comments printable seperately.

Verdict: It is a great way to keep multimedia resources, paper activities and power points all in one place. We can pull from different teachers and manipulate lessons to meet our classes needs. It's an easy way to plan and keep yourself organized and you can pull not only from your documents but from documents online and other websites

Asst. Principal, School Type: Elementary School, Middle School
Feb 28, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would share this with all my teachers, I would suggest that my teachers sign up for this. Especially if it is not in our school budget to purchase it. I think it is a fantastic way for our teachers t plan and align to Common Core standards, get lesson plan ideas, share ideas with colleagues, etc. If we have a snow day, show how things can be moved to another day. It is simply awesome!

Strengths: This is easy to follow the layout of the Common Classroom. It is aligned to the Common Core and teachers can share plans with colleagues. It doesn't get much better than that. You can easily move items from one day to another, incase of inclement weather, assembly, etc.

Suggestions for Improvement: I personally cannot think of anything that you could do to improve this, but allow schools to sign up for free, so Administrators could have access to it, besides having a teacher downloading and submitting their plans. You could offer the option of printing the lesson plans landscape or portrait, not just portrait.

Verdict: I would advocate for my principal to purchase a site license. This way we could see as admin. what teachers are planning for the week. We couldn't have to collect lesson plans, they would their at a click of a button. If we a have a snow day, 2 hr. delay schedules could be altered and we could see how adjustments were made by just looking in the Common Curriculum planner. I love it and it is so easily to read and follow!

Shelly, Teacher. School Type: Other, Low Income Population
Feb 28, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use it to plan my lessons since it has the objectives, materials, and etc included. I would add the links to the digital tools in these lessons and share it with my team. I have a vision of my team agreeing to be responsible for one content area to plan for and then share with each other. This would save us time and maybe give us ideas we have never thought of before.

Strengths: The strengths are the links to the CCS so that way it is more structured and easy to navigate. Also, it will save cost since teachers won't need to print lessons. Schools are on such a tight budget these days and several thousands of dollars can be saved by not needing to print all of our lesson plans.

Suggestions for Improvement: It would be great if there were built in links to lesson activities or suggestions for interactive activities related to the lessons. I spend so much time searching for digital activities that are age appropriate for my students and several hours are wasted.

Verdict: The administrators are pushing for more collaboration among the teams of teachers at my school. The problem is that we go to the collaboration meetings and share ideas but when we return to our classrooms to plan our lessons, we forget what we have shared. I would tell the administrators that this digital tool provides for ongoing collaboration instead of just one meeting a month. That can lead to more effective lesson planning.

Katie, Tea Her. School Type: Elementary School, Low Income Population
Feb 22, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: I would use this to create a dynamic plan book that facilitates collaboration in real time with my special educator co-teacher as well as a grade level partner.

Strengths: It allows daily plans to be flexible and repeated. Instead of drawing an arrow or rewriting, I can drag and drop a copy of an activity. I absolutely LOVE the database of standards available to drag and drop into plans. It is very comprehensive and saves time and energy searching for the standard.

Suggestions for Improvement: I would add the ability to notify teachers of comments left on specific lessons via email. I think it would be a great self reflection tool if you could search for all comments left by the creator (teacher) and print a PDF that shows the lesson title, standard, and all comments. This would become a sort of journal to look back on for future planning and would be easier than printing every lesson and searching for the comments on paper.

Verdict: This would cut down time and energy maintaining paper plan books. This technology would also allow teachers to share ideas and plans efficiently. Let's not reinvent the wheel! The ability to quickly adjust lesson order and date of delivery, as well as "bump" plans in the event of inclement weather is revolutionary.

Admin, School Type: Elementary School, High ELL Population, BYOD Devices, Blended Learning
Feb 28, 2014

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: To connect teachers and support the collaborative planning process. Also a great way for administrators to support teachers in their planning and provide feedback on their lessons and activities. The digital access provides a lot of flexibility to access form home or school.

Strengths: This product is unique with its ease of use and set-up. The design seems to easily promote collaboration and lesson design. The feedback tool is unique and provides a lot of flexibility with its use. One of most difficult things is for teachers to collaborate and share resources on a consistent basis. This tool certainly provides that opportuntiy and does not mandate a face to face meeting for staff which is often very difficult during the school day even with common planning.

Suggestions for Improvement: Nothing to note as of today. Wish the free access gave three people access. Would like to try this with two teachers to get a better sample before purchase.

Verdict: - Collaborative planning tool
- digital web-based access
- professional development resource
- great way for interns and mentors to connect on lesson and plan remotely
- Administrators can support and provide feedback for teachers on their lesson plans and activties

Michelle, Tech Specialist. School Type: Elementary School
Feb 28, 2015

full starfull starfull starfull starfull star Advocate

Usage: As a technology specialist, I teach several small groups of students, so to keep my groups straight I needed a plan book that would be organized. I just started using this to plan my upcoming lessons, and I can have separate classes and yet everything is in the same place.

Strengths: The standards are right there, so you don't have to go digging around to find the right ones, and so you don't have to type them in either. Also the template is easily customizable, so you can set something up to always be included so you don't have to type it over and over.

Suggestions for Improvement: - instead of having to scroll through all the standards, having it progress and start narrowing down and decluttering the list to keep some of the text off the screen - add a "suggestion" feature so if collaboration is happening you could change it so that some can just make suggestions, and not change it outright - add a piece for admins to add feedback on the lessons, so teachers can get feedback

Verdict: Everything is there where you need it, and you can easily pull the common core standards that you need. I've always been a fan of typing my lessons, so this program is nice and streamlined.

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