Our readers’ top 40 ed-tech services for 2013-14

SAM Animation (iCreate to Educate)

Through a simple, user-friendly interface, this program for PCs and Macs enables students of all ages to visually express their ideas within minutes using stop-motion video animations. Students can snap images frame by frame, add narration and background sounds, make time-lapse movies, edit with paint tools, then share their creations through YouTube and other video sharing sites. The software “has been a huge hit in our K-8 charter school,” says Shane Vander Kooi, director of innovation and operations for Gardens School of Technology Arts in Florida. “We initially envisioned introducing our kids to SAM as a technology tool to promote creativity, story-telling, and animation, but it has become an important tool that we’ve infused into all classes to support all subjects. I couldn’t recommend any other tool more.”

SCORE21 (TE21)

Developed by teachers for teachers, the SCORE21 formative assessment builder helps prepare students for Common Core assessments by providing an item bank of more than 16,000 high-quality questions. Teachers can use SCORE21 to build rigorous ELA and math practice tests in minutes. “Our teachers were in need of an instrument that could provide specific data on each student in reading and math,” says Sylvia Schmidt, a principal in North Carolina’s Cumberland County Schools. “Our school uses the test item bank on a daily basis. It has proved valuable to our teachers and instructional coaches. … Test results are detailed and specific, as well as very user-friendly.”

SNAP Health Center (Professional Software for Nurses Inc.)

SNAP Health Center is a comprehensive medical documentation and tracking software suite that manages every aspect of student health related data. “This is the program we use to document everything we do with the students, teachers, staff, and family within our district,” says Lisa Crawford, staff nurse at Gadsden Independent School District in New Mexico. “It thinks the way nurses do by putting everything together into body systems, and it has the capability to do anything we need as the first line of health care in our more rural district.”

Student Lingo (Innovative Educators)

StudentLingo is a series of interactive, on-demand workshops and action plans focused on helping students achieve their academic, personal, and career goals. “With more students in dire need of personal services, Student Lingo workshops help meet students’ needs when they want it,” says Lisa Santiago, Title III retention specialist for Iowa’s Southeastern Community College. “With fewer staff and an increase in student needs, these workshops have helped us to help our students, in ways we could not otherwise afford.”


SymbalooEDU is the educational version of Symbaloo, a free social service that lets you organize your teaching resources in one place and share them easily with others. “SymbalooEDU keeps my software organized and gives me another resource for presentations,” says Dorothy Chase, a professor at the College of Southern Nevada. “My students benefit because they have a place to sample the software I place in the sandbox. Also, they have an opportunity to use Symbaloo to create their own web mixes, lessons, and presentations. SymbalooEDU has the added benefit of being ad-free.”

TalentEd (Netchemia)

TalentEd is a web-based personnel and talent management suite for K-12 districts. The software “has helped our human resources department move toward our goal of being paperless regarding our hiring process,” says Tracey Wallace, executive director of human resources at Coppell Independent School District in Texas. “Through this online application system, we are able to review applications, conduct background checks, gather information from references, prescreen applicants, schedule interviews, recommend applicants for hire, and then show them as hired. Throughout this process, eMails and notification to applicants as well as district administrators can be put in place so that everyone is on the same page.”


Tales2Go is a mobile children’s audiobook service that streams thousands of name-brand titles from leading publishers to mobile devices and desktops in the classroom and beyond. The service gives educators and parents unlimited access to play titles on desktops, laptops, and Apple mobile devices, all for one low annual price. Titles and series range from Clifford and Curious George to 39 Clues, Gulliver’s Travels, and Little Women. “As I explored this application, I thought of our struggling readers and how they could find a love of reading by hearing those books that they want so badly to read,” said Andrea Gardner, instructional technology specialist at Westford Public Schools in Massachusetts. “It’s [also] a great addition for any … parent getting their child to love reading!”

TreeRing Yearbooks (TreeRing)

TreeRing creates yearbooks for the internet generation, taking advantage of digital printing and the collaborative power of online social networks to create personalized, printed-on-demand yearbooks that commemorate each child’s unique school experience. “For the past 10 years we were losing, on average, $700 per year” by having to pre-order a minimum number of yearbooks, says Kevin Steinhauser, yearbook and newspaper advisor for Florida’s Poinciana High School. “Now that we’ve found TreeRing, the yearbook is no longer a financial burden for the school, because parents purchase the yearbooks directly from TreeRing—and the school is removed from the purchasing process.”

WalkKits (The Walking Classroom)

The Walking Classroom is a nonprofit program that promotes health literacy and supports lifelong fitness habits for all students, while addressing different learning styles. The method combines standards-aligned academic content and exercise during the school day. WalkKits are audio players pre-loaded with the information kids need to help them master their curriculum—and students listen to the content as they walk. “Students actually enjoy learning with this technology and can’t wait to hear the next podcast,” says Jasselle Cruz, an educator at a Philadelphia school district. “The Teacher’s Guide has complete lessons that include assessments for students to take upon returning from their walks. It is one of the only times that students do not complain about having to take a quiz!”

Zinch (Chegg)

Zinch is a website that helps colleges connect with prospective students. Students create a profile similar to a college application, and then colleges can search through these profiles and reach out to top prospects. “We use Zinch as an integral part of our outreach,” says Teege Mettille, associate director of admissions for Lawrence University in Wisconsin. “Zinch creates an environment for genuine, student-directed connections between colleges and prospective students. Every time we reach out to a student on Zinch, we don’t have to do it to their personal eMail account (or their parents’!)—and [this] helps to de-clutter the college search process.”

(Next page: Honorable mentions)

eSchool News Staff

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