The secret sauce behind Along: creating content with our 7 partners

When an educator logs into Along, they have access to a range of reflection questions and other aligned resources that all map back to the same goal — providing engaging opportunities to build relationships with students and allowing them to feel seen and understood. 

But how does all of this compelling content make it into Along? We wanted to pull back the curtain and share some of our secret sauce. 

We follow a robust process of creating and reviewing content based on evidence-based, inclusive design with the partnership of expert organizations in the education field.  To ensure that the content was inclusive for all students and their identities, the Along team reached out to partner organizations that could lend their expertise in key areas including:  1) usability and accessibility, 2) racial and cultural affirmation, 3) teacher perspective, and 4) youth perspective. These lenses are applied both individually and collectively with the hope that all content is inclusive and engaging. 

In order to capture learnings from these partner organizations, members of the Along team created a ‘playbook’ to inform how we develop future content. Our team vets each question, practice, and activity rigorously and applies the recommendations compiled in our playbook to strengthen content. The playbook currently has 20 plus ‘moves’ that can be applied to content created by partners. The creation of the playbook is an attempt to both capture learnings and consistently apply them to content.

“Our overarching lens for all of our content is to align with sciences of learning and human development,,” said Susan Menkel, Success Manager – Learning and Development with Along. “However, there are a variety of other lenses and perspectives we needed to think about, and that’s where our partnerships stemmed.”

Thanks to Black Teacher Collaborative, Character Lab, Greater Good Science Center, GripTape, Search Institute, Teach Plus, and Understood – our content was deliberately written and reviewed through the lens of these critical areas. 

“With the help of our partners, every question we have has been vetted extensively through multiple lenses,” added Menkel. “And, not only is every single activity, resource, and question attached to what learning sciences says about forming relationships with young people, but we know that our tools provide the platform for educators to make meaningful connections with all of their students, no matter their background.”

Each of our partners provided their own specific guidance to inform the content throughout the Along tool:

  • Black Teacher Collaborative reviewed content through the lens of racial and cultural affirmation.
  • Character Lab provided direct youth feedback and helped to create reflection questions, classroom activities, and educator practices.
  • Greater Good Science Center translated scientific research into practical resources for educators and into the creation of classroom activities.
  • GripTape looked at our content through the perspective of creating mentoring relationships between educators and their students and provided youth feedback.
  • Search Institute provided their expertise as leaders in the science of developmental relationships in young people’s lives and in the creation of reflection questions, classroom activities, and educator practices.
  • Teach Plus shared the teacher’s perspective in the development of our content.
  • Understood ensured that our content is usable and accessible for exceptional learners.

On the Along blog, we plan to share even more insights into our work with these outstanding partners in the coming months. Check back here to learn more about our partners’ diverse perspectives about education and how they are working with students and educators. And, in the meantime, you can learn more about Understood by reading a guest blog from the organization’s former Executive Director of Learning Experiences, Melinda Evans.

We also want to hear directly from educators who are utilizing Along with their students this year. Tell us your stories for consideration on the Along blog. Please email us at media@along.org to share your experiences.