The Top Ten S'Cool Tools for Q3, 2015

By
Mary Jo Madda

If you’re looking for effective and popular school tools to test out this fall, look no further. Every week, EdSurge delivers its educator-specific INSTRUCT newsletter (sign-up here) with a section on “S’Cool Tools,” calling attention to 3-5 edtech tools we’ve found, tested, and given our surging seal of approval.

And out of 75+ S’Cool Tools showcased in INSTRUCT during Q3 (July, August, September), ten products have risen to the top based on the number of clicks they’ve received from our INSTRUCT readers. Check them out below!

And entrepreneurs, take note--nearly all of the tools on the list below are free, even though EdSurge includes free, freemium and licensed products each week in the S’Cool Tools section. Food for thought!

One last note--got a tool that you feel we've missed? Let us know.


10. Fantasy Geopolitics -- Freemium: Fantasy football + geography and social studies = some good old learning fun. That's essentially the gist of Fantasy Geopolitics, a social studies game in which students draft countries and earn points as they track current events. So who are you rooting for? The Patriots? Japan? The island of Guam? Pricing is free for 0-5 players, and then starts to go up from there.

9. Airtable -- Free: Staying organized is a lot harder than you'd think, especially when you've got papers to grade, a mess of lesson planning to do, and any semblance of a life outside of school. Luckily, you've got Google Sheets to help keep data and information in check, but a new tool--Airtable--allows you to do even more with your spreadsheet savvy. Unlike Google Sheets, Airtable lets you create connections between different tables, and mix and match different types of data--like adding a photo field alongside a numeric field.

8. Shape of Life -- Free: Attention, science teachers. Shape of Life is a series of short classroom videos that illustrate the evolution of the animal kingdom on planet earth, from the beginning of time until now. The site includes lesson plans to use in tandem with the videos, and other supplemental resources to learn more about flatworms, sponges, and annelids. (Oh my!)

7. Teaching Tolerance -- Free: With all of the recent social justice cases in the news, we could all use a tool that helps us teach kids about right and wrong, equity, and the history of the United States. That's where "Perspectives for a Diverse America" by Teaching Tolerance comes into play. This collection of free and easy-to-use resources brings together anti-bias social justice content with content aligned to the Common Core State Standards. And yes, it's free.

6. LearnZillion -- Free: Got those SmarterBalanced test scores back? You may already been planning on how to rev your Common Core instruction this coming fall. LearnZillion, is a fast-growing Common Core digital curriculum and professional development platform for grades 2-12. The site is filled with CCSS-aligned lessons. You can use them via a web browser or iOS/Android apps. The basic features are free, but for a fee, schools can upgrade to LearnZillion premium, which enables teachers to work instructional coaches and customize their curriculum.

5. Pocket Points -- Free: Cell phones in the classroom are great for BYOD, but when you’ve asked students not to use them, it’s like you become the cell-phone police. So, get some help and try out Pocket Points. This app gives students rewards when they don’t use their phone in class—all they have to do is open the application, lock their phone, and wrack up points (redeemable for discounts at local stores) for every hour they don’t touch it. Three points for this app!

4. CodeCombat -- Free: Students can get their roleplay on this year and not just in theatre class. Try in computer science, with an online RPG that teaches students JavaScript through head-to-head or cooperative code challenges. CodeCombat does exactly that, and it's designed for both middle school (Grades 5-8) and high school (Grades 9-12).

3. Zeal -- Free: Zeal joins a growing list of products hoping to take the pain out of administering and grading exit tickets. The Common Core-aligned question bank gives 15,000 (the number of questions) reasons for teachers to care, but students should, too, thanks to the ClassDojo-like engagement embedded in each exit ticket. When the joy of learning isn’t enough, students can earn coins, move up the leaderboard and use the coins to upgrade their own avatar.

2. Kudzoo -- Free: Did you ever ask your parents to pay you for your grades? How about strangers? Now you can ask the Internet. Students who use on Kudzoo can upload their report cards for a chance to convert their achievements into Kudzoo Cash. This grade-based Bitcoin, in turn, gives them purchasing power for concert tickets, food and scholarships, among other things. Students can earn Kudzoo cash for grades, attendance or answering daily SAT questions. Not for use for students under the age of 13.

And our highest-clicked tool, winning by a landslide of clicks...

1. Quizalize -- Free: Tired of using Quizlet? Quizalize might be another fun option for you to test out with your students this coming year. You can generate your own quizzes or pick one from the Quizalize Marketplace, and then track student progress with instant assessments for personalized learning on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. One caveat—the tool is only browser-based at the moment.

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