Counting Down the Top Ten S’Cool Tools of 2014

By
Mary Jo Madda

It seems like there’s a “Top Ten” list for everything nowadays: Top Ten Viral Videos, Top Billboard Singles, Top Ten Data Fails (now, that one sounds interesting). But here at EdSurge, we don’t geek out at viral videos, or pranks, or Billboard singles. 

We geek out at edtech tools.

Every week, our educator-specific INSTRUCT newsletter contains a section called “S’Cool Tools,” where we list either popular or up-and-coming edtech tools. And throughout the 2014 year alone, we’ve showcased over 340 edtech tools in our S’Cool Tools section.

Certain tools get more clicks than others, and as we close this year, we felt it pertinent to bring you the most popular S’Cool Tools of 2014. Enjoy this top ten countdown, from #10 all the way to the coveted #1 spot.


10. BrainRush - Free! Looking to gamify your classroom? BrainRush has lots of options for a wide variety of classes, on topics from Greek Gods and Goddesses to World War II to the Water Cycle. Its games are reactive and adaptive to help students stay challenged and engaged, and prompt students to review concepts after play.

9. Office Mix - Free! It’s time to get in the mix, so to speak. Here at EdSurge, we received a number of emails over the months from teachers about including Office Mix in our list of S’Cool Tools, so here we go! Office Mix is, as one teacher put it, “PowerPoint on steroids.” The platform allows you to turn PPTs into interactive online lessons or presentations, with digital annotations, quizzes, and interactive apps with exercises and lessons from the likes of Khan Academy and CK-12 Foundation. Just keep in mind: Mix requires Office 2013 SP1 to work on your device.

8. EduCanon - Free! EduCanon lets you take any video content from YouTube, Vimeo, or TeacherTube and transform it into an interactive experience by embedding questions that students engage with as the video progresses. Still curious? These eduCanon users give their two cents on the product.

7. SlideRule- Free! Grow your teacher skill set with SlideRule! Not just another set of videos, SlideRule is an "online learning hub" that provides teachers with curated, sequenced "learning paths" (i.e. granular material, down to a specific lesson or problem set in an online course) that leaves users with a skill set at the end. While not all courses are for the faint of heart (a web development course takes a cool 86 hours), the variety of content is undeniable. Brush up on PowerPoint, learn how to use a classroom iPad, and explore tips for college admission. (One caveat: SlideRule is free, but many of the courses aren’t.)

6. ReadWorks - Free! Literacy skills aren’t limited to ELA classrooms. Using ReadWorks, you can help your students develop their reading comprehension across all subject areas. The nonprofit offers hundreds of K-6 units ranging from “Drawing Conclusions” to “Author’s Purpose” to Bridge to Terabithia, developed by researchers at the National Reading Panel and teachers across the country.

5. Scholastic’s “50 Awesome Apps” - Free! Can’t get enough S’Cool Tools? Check out Scholastic’s list of 50 tools for teachers, covering material from grammar to earth science, offering activities from graphic novel creation to music-reading competitions. (Note: While Scholastic’s list is free to view, some--but not all--of the tools are free.)

4. Eduvee - Freemium! Eduvee is a personalized learning platform covering Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Attempting to address the frustration students feel when working through online study materials, it atomizes content--both OER and publisher-created--into manageable chunks of interactive learning that students can more easily navigate. Over time, Eduvee provides students a more personalized experience, presenting those content and media formats that have produced the best results on previous assessments. Though eventually planning to launch premium content for a fee, all Eduvee offerings are currently free.

3. Coggle - Free! Are your students having a hard time drawing connections between various concepts or events? Try Coggle--this platform helps you (or your students) create information-rich webs of images and links about anything from the digestive system to the events leading up to the War of 1812. Students can use it for big concept reviews for those December finals!

2. HSTRY - Free! Online tool HSTRY isn’t just for history teachers. This website offers interactive timeline creation tools--think audio, video, and quizzes--that are relevant in any class. Use material from the HSTRY team, create your own timelines or use the site as a jump off point for student assignments, whether you want them to create a first-person account of Paul Revere’s midnight ride or how a plant goes through photosynthesis or Harry Potter’s adventures.

And, at the top of our list, in our coveted #1 spot...

1. Printable Paper - Free! If your desk supplies are as disorganized as ours are, Printable Paper might just save morale. Print out 1,300+ different (and useful!) paper templates, including budgets and graphing paper. Try out their printable history timelines, storyboards, and seating charts for your classroom. We might start using the Battleship Game paper to leave office notes--after all, blank printer paper is so last week. Kudos to Printable Paper, who captured our #1 S’Cool Tools spot in Q2 and held onto that title for the rest of the year--we salute you!

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