Find Appropriate Educational Content

Find Appropriate Educational ContentLast week, we talked about implementing topics of popular culture in the classroom in order to get students more interested and engaged. Today’s post heads in the same direction but is, once more, also centered around the topic of curation.

With an ever growing amount of content on the Internet it is getting harder and harder to find the quality material buried underneath the not so great. This is not only true for general news, entertainment and information but also for educational content. This phenomenon is called infobesity which I find pretty telling.

Therefore, the need for curators who dig through all the content available, evaluate and structure it, becomes increasingly important. One project that is doing a pretty amazing job for education is Common Sense Media.

Common Sense Media is a non profit with a mission to

“… improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.”

Common Sense MediaAs kids are constantly spending more time with Internet enabled devices, they grow up very differently compared to older generations. The use of technology in daily life has an effect on how children socialize today, and it also has an impact on their emotional and physical development. It could even be argued that technology and digital media have become a sort of second parent or teacher to them.

Common Sense Media wants to make sure that children grow up as savvy respectful and responsible media interpreters, creators, and communicators and that parents and teachers should have a choice over what children consume. The team also believes, parents and teachers need to become more tech and media savvy in order to make the right decisions and teach children the right behavior.

In order to fulfill its mission, Common Sense Media rates and reviews all kinds of media from movies to TV shows, mobile applications, games, websites, books, you name it. Every media item is rated based on age appropriateness and learning potential and it is also based on criteria from leading experts.

Common Sense Media Rating

Each media item has its own detailed rating page showing even more granular aspects like positive messages or role models, violence, ease of play and an overall five star rating. On top of that parents and kids are also invited to give their ratings on the quality and age appropriateness.

The rating page also gives a summary of the content, a valuation on whether it is good or not and some ideas for parents or teachers on what they could talk about with their kids based on the content. Taking the very popular Twilight movie as an example, Common Sense Media suggests the following topics:

Families can talk about the Twilight series’ impact on pop culture. Do you think the messages of the books and movies are positive?

How has the off-screen relationship between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart affected your thoughts about the movies?

How does Bella’s transformation into a vampire change her? Is she more likable as a vampire? How do her abilities as a vampire affect those around her?

Is Bella and Edward’s romance a positive example for teenagers? What’s your take on the mature issues of marriage and parenthood addressed in the movie? Parents, take this opportunity to talk to your children about your own family’s values when it comes to these topics.

There’s one part of the movie that diverges from the book; did the twists upset you, or do you understand why they made the changes?

Common Sense Media Professional DevelopmentThe site also offers free resources for educators covering topics such as cyberbullying, gender stereotypes and entire classroom curricula. Teachers can also get training on how to use the K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum with Common Sense Media’s Professional Development Resources.

Teachers can join live webinars, join an online community or get in-person training with Common Sense Media’s partner CUE.


How are you evaluating content that you want to use in the classroom? Would you use Common Sense Media to get an overview on appropriate media? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


Feature image courtesy of Flickr,  woodleywonderworks.


  1. I sometimes use their site to evaluate books I want to bring in. I’m a librarian at a conservative Christian school and their specific details about what language, violence and sexual aspects are in a plot help me determine what issues it might raise with my students and their families.

    1. That’s a really great application Nicole! I love seeing all this crowd-sourced information being used to benefit the whole community and yours is a great example. Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.