Counting Down EdSurge's Top Ten S’Cool Tools of 2015

column | S'Cool Tools

Counting Down EdSurge's Top Ten S’Cool Tools of 2015

By Mary Jo Madda (Columnist)     Dec 29, 2015

Counting Down EdSurge's Top Ten S’Cool Tools of 2015

With the winter holiday celebrations come those familiar “Top Ten Lists.” Top ten films of 2015. Top ten books on the New York Times bestseller list. Top ten most read edtech articles of 2015. (At least, on our site.)

In keeping up with tradition, we here at EdSurge like to throw our hat in the ring with a selection of the top ten most popular tools from the year. But here’s the twist--we don’t choose them.

You do.

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 2015 year alone, we’ve showcased over 250 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 2015.

We also noticed a few trends while tracking the top tools. Just like last year’s list—and heck, 2013, as well—nine out of the ten tools are free, with the one exception offering a freemium model. But not everything stayed consistent; while not a single math tool made the 2014 list, this year’s 2015 countdown features Math is Fun, YummyMath, and Math Games.

Without further adieu, enjoy the top ten countdown, from #10 all the way to the coveted #1 spot.

10. 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.

9. Math is Fun - Free! One barrier to getting kids into math is the vocabulary. If students miss a teacher’s explanation of a word, the whole concept goes poof. Math is Fun is a dictionary of math terms with visual explanations of the concepts behind them. Math is Fun’s dictionary is part of a larger network of math resources that includes sample problems, games and guides to different areas of math. The tool is appropriate for students of all ages and collects no data.

8. PearDeck - Freemium! If you want to create engaging presentations for your students beyond PowerPoint slides, PearDeck might be the tool for you. You can create interactive slides that ask your students to draw, complete multiple choice, identify an aspect of the slide through Draggables, and more. PearDeck’s free version offers access to some standard question slides, but is limited in the number of .PDF or PowerPoint imports. Teacher Pro ($12/teacher/month or $100/year) and School or District plans ($4/student/year) both offer extra features, including unlimited imports.

7. CommonLit - Free! CommonLit offers literacy teachers free texts (poems, news stories, historical docs and the like) linked to discussion themes (friendship, love or greed). As the recent winner of the TFA Social Innovation Award, the company has been getting some love from the field. And yep, it's free!

6. YummyMath - Free! Teach your kids about current events and math with YummyMath, which provides exercises based on news happening in the world today. Search by math skill or chronological events to find activities like calculating the possible dates on which Memorial Day could fall or predicting the profits of "The Avengers 2" based on opening weekend sales.

5. Comparison Charts - Free! This is handy: Richard Byrne over at Free Tech for Teachers put together ten charts comparing popular edtech tools, including e-textbooks creators to teacher blogging sites. Check out his suggestions and let us know what tools you prefer!

4. Chronas - Free! Interactive historical maps (in beta). Chronas integrates the Wikipedia pages of countries, notable people, important artifacts with timestamped maps. For example, click on Rome in 14 AD and read about Emperor Augustus. Students can watch data on societies and nations—major religions, empires, population—fluctuate throughout history in one of the site’s many data visualizations. Did you know 40 percent of the world practiced Confucianism in 1000 AD?

3. Block Posters - Free! Print posters, segment by segment, on normal-sized paper. Posters often fall outside of the classroom budget (and so land hard on a teacher’s pockets). Upload an image, choose the size, cut it into printable pieces, and make yourself a do-it-yourself decoration.

2. LitCharts - Free! Tracking the references to piety and fate in Virgil’s Aeneid can be tricky, whether or not your students know Latin. Brought to you by the founding editor of Sparknotes, LitCharts hopes to make more than 200 great works of literature, from Anna Karenina to 1984, more accessible through its interactive data visualizations which visually track themes, symbols and plots in a story. For now, you can use the content with signing-in.

And, at the top of our list, in our coveted #1 spot, heralding back to one of our very first 2015 newsletters...

1. Math Games - Free! Here's one for the gamer in all of you:, by TeachMe, is an online suite of internet math games, available for teachers, students, and parents to use inside and outside the classroom. Covering math concepts in Pre-K to 9th grade and searchable by Common Core State Standards, The site also has progress reports and dashboards for parents and teachers to track individual student performance.

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