Common Sense


Top Picks for Back-to-School 2014

Back-to-school is always challenging -- from students still in summer mode to planning and organization to wrestling with curriculum tweaks and tech access. It's a lot. For some teachers, 2014-2015 also throws Common Core standards (CCSS) and assessments into the mix. We're here to help with a curated collection of the best tools -- both CCSS-aligned and not -- to help teachers plan, assess, and organize, and to provide students with deep learning opportunities.

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Top Picks


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Exemplary Common Core-aligned lessons from rock star peers at large

Bottom line: Get a head start on the Common Core transition with this professional community for great classroom-ready lessons.

Common Curriculum

Sleek lesson planner replaces bulky binders, promotes collaboration

Bottom line: Ditch pen-and-paper planning; embrace the flexibility of collaborative lesson planning and calendar design.

ST Math: K-6

Game-based, visual activities get below the surface for deep learning

Bottom line: Great tool for differentiating in-class and at-home math practice.


Target skills and differentiate with dynamic practice and assessments

Bottom line: Rich with content-aligned assessments, printable worksheets, and progress analytics; mindful teachers will find it a valuable resource to promote skills mastery through practice.


Differentiate reading instruction with high-quality texts and lessons

Bottom line: The quality and scope of texts, lesson plans, assessments, and supports on this platform can help facilitate targeted reading instruction in any classroom.

Goalbook Toolkit

Set tailored targets with pricey but worth-it kit of tools, strategies

Bottom line: You pay for quality with Goalbook Toolkit, including access to clear, well-crafted learning goals and strategies that allow for far easier differentiation.


Upgrade your grading with tool for mastery-based tracking

Bottom line: For those trained in standards-based grading, a solid way to collect, track, and report mastery-based achievement.

Teaching Channel

See colleagues in action with digital PD for discussion and reflection

Bottom line: This video library of actual classroom teaching offers opportunities for professional educators to watch, share, and improve their craft.


Let students do the writing to make grammar lessons more meaningful

Bottom line: Excellent opportunities for grammar and writing practice; teachers may need to tailor lessons to best fit into their own curriculum.

TenMarks Math

Responsive and adaptive math practice for every grade level

Bottom line: Adaptive K–12 math practice that hones in on students' areas for growth with lots of potential to empower.

LightSail Education

Robust, full-featured reading app measures meaningful literacy gains

Bottom line: A powerful, well-designed literacy platform for developing engaged readers.


Quality Common Core-aligned lessons with great modeling for teachers

Bottom line: An innovative way to enhance lessons and tailor learning for individual needs.

Imagine Math

Great adaptive learning comes with live teacher support, unique rewards

Bottom line: A fantastic, comprehensive program where teachers can track progress and motivate using meaningful rewards.


Well-structured lessons encourage deep analysis, thoughtful writing

Bottom line: This is a ready-to-go, research-backed resource that focuses intently on CCSS-aligned and AP-level critical reading and writing skills.


Toughest palates can't resist appetizing look at real-world math

Bottom line: Easy-to-deliver lessons use real-world topics tweens like.


Absorbing daily news stories offer kids just-right learning content

Bottom line: Up-to-date, high-interest articles meet students right at their level: Use this robust tool to bolster students' nonfiction reading practice.


Deliver solid content, crunch data with connected LMS/grading platform

Bottom line: With time-saving tools and accessible third-party content, this gradebook is a solid choice for its extensive, district-level features.


Elegant, customizable e-reader empowers close reading, boosts skills

Bottom line: An excellent tool for in-text assessment. Maximize the platform's usefulness by uploading your own texts and setting up CCSS-aligned checkpoints.


Manage classes, content, and communication with social LMS platform

Bottom line: This free platform allows for teacher-monitored classroom communication but lacks excitement.

Educurious (with LMS)

Spark deep curiosity with PBL courses that connect life and learning

Bottom line: Get kids involved in learning that really matters to them with these interactive, inquiry-based units.

Get tips for using these tools in the classroom

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