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Counting Down the Top S’Cool Tools for 2013: #1-10

Bringing you the most popular teacher tools of 2013

Drumroll, please!

The final S’Cool Tools countdown, based entirely on your clicks!

We introduced our top tools and products of 2013 last week with our #11-20 countdown, but now, we present you with the tip of the iceberg: the top 10 most popular S’Cool Tools from the last twelve months. And yes--once again, they’re all free.


10. Mathigon - Free! Looking for a bag of tricks for a math classroom? We've got you. Mathigon is a website that consists of interactive eBooks, videos, slideshows and apps, with the aim of making advanced mathematics more accessible and entertaining. And better yet--every offering on the website is free. Choose from a variety of activities and slideshows that have been designed specifically for classroom use. A particular favorite? The “World of Mathematics” e-book, which was a 2013 Lovie Awards Gold Winner.

9. Aurasma - Free! Now, we just find this downright cool. Aurasma is getting a lot of attention from educators these days. Available in the iOS and Google Play store, this app brings the magic of augmented reality to learners. Add a layer of video to an existing image, and voila! Learning comes alive. Aurasma is being used in classrooms to expand vocabulary, deepen conceptual understanding, and engage learners.

8. Blubbr - Free! Blubbr provides an extremely slick interface that makes it easy for users to create video-based quizzes -- called "trivs" -- similar to those seen on TED-Ed andTeachem. The straightforward six-step process is as follows: 1) name your "triv", 2) search videos under a topic of your choice, 3) select a video, 4) use the entire video or crop to a specific section, 5) create at least four multiple choice questions related to the video, and 6) click 'I'm Done'. All "trivs" are made public and categorized so that any user can practice his or her "trivving" skills. We were pleasantly surprised to find the highest number of entries under the education category. Check out this"triv" on the flipped classroom to get a better feel for how Blubbr might work for your students.

7. Coggle - Free! Coggle aims to set itself apart from other mindmapping tools with an ultra-clean interface and user experience. Controls are a cinch -- add an unlimited number of parent/child nodes with a simple mouse click, or delete nodes by holding the 'Ctrl' key down first. Colors, grouping, and spacing are updated auto-magically to ensure the map is always easy to read and trace. You can optionally share mindmaps Google Drive-style, giving collaborators read/write privileges, or review the mindmap creation process with a handy timeline slider.

6. InstaEDU - Free! Looking for a tutor? Look’s like a lot of EdSurge readers are, since this landed the #6 spot on our list. InstaEDU is (true it its name) instant, providing an in-demand tutoring service that connects users with online tutors from top-tier universities. Simply enter in your desired subject for tutoring, and InstaEDU gives you a list of the highest-rated tutors on their site.

5. Google Treks - Free! Google Treks is a comprehensive set of web 2.0 lessons built primarily on top of Google Maps. Created by Dr. Alice Christie and a core team of collaborators, Google Treks offers lessons in science, mathematics, social studies, language arts, art, music, and health-- all in the context of geographic locations. Curious about the history of famous earthquakes? There's a map for that. Need to convey the scope and complexity of the Underground Railroad? There's a map for that, too. Looking to demonstrate good accounting practices by planning a vacation? Yup, in fact… well, you get the picture.

4. Eyewitness to History - Free! Eyewitness to History s a collection of primary resources and  thoughtful commentary covering historical events from ancient history to WWII. The primary resources are largely composed of eyewitness accounts excerpted from diaries, manuscripts, and other historical documents. The 18th century collection, for example, includes nearly 30 events largely centered around the American Revolution. The wealth of resources is free, but banner ads for blockbuster movies and Xbox may prove a distraction for some students.

3. NuSkool - Free! When we first posted about NuSkool back in April, co-founder Abran (Abe) Maldonado told EdSurge that NuSkool was actively seeking curriculum partners to further diversify content. Looks like they’ve got the curriculum to boot now--NuSkool provides hundreds of culturally-relevant lesson templates organized by grade level, subject, and pop culture genres (i.e. music, television, film, video games). Each lesson template includes a media artifact (mostly YouTube videos), description of the lesson, procedural tips, and possible assessment questions. Educators still seeking general lesson plan guidance may find the templates a bit sparse, but those looking for new ways to "hook" students should find the pop culture linkages very helpful. Take for example this analysis of Kendrick Lamar's song, "Poetic Justice" which introduces literary devices through the mega-rapper's lyrics. At 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, the song has likely been committed to memory by more than a few students.

2. Metryx - Free! Metryx is a formative assessment tool that allows teachers to "track, analyze, and differentiate" students across any number of customizable skill sets. Teachers can import class rosters and skill sets via a CSV file, and then individually track students across each skill set as they perform various classroom activities. The granularity of these activities is completely at the discretion of the teacher--though Metryx appears especially useful for project-based learning, skills demonstration, and other activities where multiple-choice assessment data can't fully convey student progress.

And finally--true to its name, the #1 most popular S’Cool Tool of 2013 is...

1. Brilliant - Free! Brilliant is one way to keep your science and math whiz kids regularly engaged and challenged. Students receive challenge problems each week that they complete and then compare against their peers all over the world. They can see where they match up against others based on country and age, and share strategies with others students. The site also hosts competitions involving game theory, writing algorithms, and other fun shenanigans.

About the Author

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Mary Jo writes and heads up the INSTRUCT newsletter for EdSurge. Previously, she taught middle school math/science. Most recently, she served as an Education Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Email: maryjo@edsurge.com

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