Common Curriculum

The Common Curriculum Project sought to make planning more flexible. It is an extensive lesson and unit planning tool which includes templates you can customize to your liking. I implemented the core areas of VIU’s lesson planning template to test out the program for myself, and will add the rest in for use in my practicum. For other students that want to keep everything in one place, all lesson plans can be downloaded as a PDF – easy to send to your supervisor 😉

Parts of a lesson can be quickly rearranged, activities you didn’t finish can be dragged into tomorrow’s lesson, and lessons can be moved forward or back days. It’s a relatively simple tool to use to keep lesson and schedule planning all in one place. Here’s a quick preview of some of the features mentioned.

You can add and edit all classes for which you want to include lessons:

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You can customize your lesson planning templates according to each lesson. I played around with this feature a little bit and designed a few templates to assign to different subject areas as seen below:

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Once you’ve added your classes in, you can view your schedule in day, week or month view. Here’s a sample of a day menu:

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You can expand each of these subject headings and plan and edit your lessons right on the day’s schedule. It looks like this:

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The best part about this program, although designed to align to the American Common Core curriculum, is that it is completely integrated with the new BC Curriculum! Within each lesson plan, there is an option to “Search & Add Standards.” Under BC, each subject is laid out with its’ big ideas, content and competencies. You simply need to select the ones you are teaching to in your lesson. Here’s what the PE 2 one looked like when putting in my Balance lesson:

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There are even more features that I have not covered here, but most are available to premium members. If schools wanted to implement the program, they can set up servers containing the virtual classes for every teacher, allowing teachers to collaborate within the program and borrow lesson plans from each other.

I would consider this program relatively user-friendly, though it does take a bit to get used to. The best part is each feature has a built-in help video as seen in most of the screenshots above. To sign up for an account or to learn more about the program, you can visit their website at

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Throughout this site, you will find the various benefits of Place Based Learning and different applications for K-2.

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Noisy Classroom? Try this!

It is easy for noise levels to raise on a daily basis in classrooms. While I don’t have a magic trick to eliminate it all together, I do have a few ideas!




Copy and paste,  into a new tab and press Begin!


Once you press begin you will see a microphone in the right hand top corner. Turn that one and talk, scream, yell, or just sit quietly, whatever you’d like. The balls react to the noise they hear!

This is a great tool to use in the classroom to monitor noise level. You can have in on a computer, or SmartBoard for everyone to see. Let your students scream and be noisy, then have them be quiet. Maybe even ask one student to talk, then two, and so on, so they can see how the noise grows the more people talk. Show them how the balls work and how they react to even the smallest noise.

When it gets too noisy they can visually see they are being to noisy, which means less telling your class, “It’s too noisy in here”. You can even add in little challenges for your class like, “If we can get this done without any balls touching the top of the screen, ….. (fill in the blank)”.

This is a great, and simple, way to show students how loud they are being and how they can self-regulate themselves due to visually being able to see their contribution to the noise.


Another great tool for monitoring noise level is the app, “Too Noisy”. This is very similar to the bouncy balls website but this one is for Ipads, or any device that can have apps. This is a “Lite” version that is free to use, or you can pay $3.99 for the Pro Version.

Too Noisy

Too Noisy shows you a dashboard that monitors the noise level within the room. It also has a Smily Face that changes from a happy face, to a scared or frightened look as the noise level rises. As the faces change so does the sky in the background. It starts with sunny and blue skys, to orange, to finally a dark, gray stormy sky.

This app also has settings where you can adjust so that it doesn’t rise as quickly. This is nice as you can control what sets off the speedometer. You can set it so minimal talking stays in the green and it only moves towards the red if it gets really loud.

The Pro version has a few extra features the Lite version does not. It has stars the class earns when they stay quiet that appear on the top of the screen. The app also has the feature where you can change the background picture, set alarms to alert the class when noise levels rise, and a screen cracking effect when they exceed the limit of noise past the red zone.


I have also found when using these apps, the students tend to tell each other to be quiet because even if one person is talking the noise level rises.

These two noise level monitors have great reviews and students really seem to benefit from having the visual aid to see that not only is their teacher saying it is too noisy but so is the screen. These tools are simple, and easy additions to the classroom to help monitor noise!

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Thoughts on Freshgrade so far..

Hey all,

I’ve really been loving Fresh Grade in my classroom.
Backing up a bit, I decided with my sponsor that it would be awesome for me to start using Fresh Grade in the classroom. The first time I used it, I documented their work on a journal I had them do. It was called “How to be a good friend”. After my students drew a picture, and wrote about what a good friend is to them, I had them keep their books open on their desks before they went out for recess. I stayed in, and with the class iPad, I uploaded their pictures onto the app! The moment I submitted each student, the parents get a notification and, depending if they have the app or not, can check moments later to see what you posted. Parents can also check on a desktop computer at their leisure.

I was talking to a teacher at the school who uses Fresh Grade, and she admitted that it can be pretty funny sometimes. Fresh Grade has a feature where, as the teacher, you can see how many views the parents give a piece of work, or comment that you submit. She noticed that some parents, after getting a notification that something was added to their child’s account, would view a single artwork, or piece of writing hundreds of times!


Although funny, and somewhat questionable, it shows that parents care to see their child’s work in most cases! Can you imagine the accessibility of showing your family, friends, and coworkers what your child did so well at in school? I think thats pretty neat, and gets parents involved with little effort on their part – just what they want!


Fresh Grade is so helpful!

Thanks for reading!

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