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January’s 11 buzzworthy edtech tools

The month of January’s hottest, must-know edtech tools—right now.

[Ed. note: Common Sense Education’s Edtech Eleven is chosen by Common Sense Education every month and helps educators find the best edtech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Go to Common Sense Education for free resources including full reviews of digital tools, ready-made lesson plans, videos, webinars, and more.]

Things move fast in the edtech world, and we hear all the time from teachers how hard it can be to keep up. This is why we’ve created Common Sense Education’s EdTech Eleven: our monthly list of noteworthy tools generating buzz in the edtech world. While these aren’t recommendations or ratings (you have to check out our Top Picks for that), what you’ll find on Common Sense Education’s EdTech Eleven is a quick and current list of trending tools you might want to check out.

January 2017 Updates

What left the list? OneNote, Sutori, Swift Playgrounds

What’s new? Bitmoji, Space by Tinybop, TinyTap



Bitmoji — an app that lets users create their own personalized emoji — is the second most popular free app on the Apple store, and was bought by Snap in 2016. There’s no doubt it’s trending, but why did it make an edtech list? Because like Bitstrips before it, Bitmoji has caught fire with educators who we’ve seen use their Bitmojis to engage students as well as their PLNs.



In edtech right now, there’s nothing more novel — or generating more buzz — than BreakoutEDU. It brings the popular puzzle-room phenomenon to classrooms through purchasable physical kits or a DIY guide to building your own. What has really set them apart thus far, though, is their vibrant community of educators sharing stories and collaborating on new scenarios.



CommonLit, which recently launched a big update, is a literacy tool that teachers, especially ELA teachers tackling Common Core, need to check out. It’s totally free, spans grades 5-12, and makes it easy to find engaging texts (fiction and non) for students, assign the texts, assess student understanding, and analyze mastery.

DragonBox Big Numbers


Big Numbers is the most recent release in the critically acclaimed DragonBox series. Big numbers builds specifically on the previous Numbers game, introducing long addition and subtraction and, of course, big numbers.  What really makes this entry stick out though is its ambitious scope, including a world map, resource gathering, and modifiable houses for the characters.



There aren’t many — if any — tools out there like GoNoodle, which provides video and game-based “brain breaks” of physical activity for students. That might explain why we’ve seen GoNoodle take a big leap this school year, emerging as one of the top trending tools on Common Sense Education.

(Next page: Edtech tools 6-11)


Google Earth VR


VR hasn’t quite taken off the way many thought it would, but it might have its first “killer app” in Google Earth VR. While we haven’t gotten our hands on it, those that have seem to be in agreement: it’s an extraordinary, perspective-altering experience that realizes the full potential of the Google Earth platform. It’s a surefire hit for classrooms that can manage to afford the costly HTC Vive platform.

ReadWorks Digital


ReadWorks is a go-to site for ELA teachers, featuring a host of lesson planning and teaching resources for literacy. ReadWorks Digital, an intriguing evolution and companion to this base offering, is a learning platform on which teachers can find and assign articles as well as track student progress, for free.



A major innovator and early success (in the latest edtech boom), Remind is still making headlines. Most recently, they’ve added “Activities,” a way for parents to pay teachers and schools for field trips, fundraisers, and more through the apps using their credit cards. It’s a smart way to build revenue while also providing a useful, timesaving service to schools.



In edtech, some tools just click, and Seesaw is one of those tools. They’ve had a meteoric rise over the past year, thanks in large part to filling a real need for teachers: helping students share work and progress with parents. It seems like each month Seesaw adds new functionality that cements their position as the portfolio tool of choice.

Space by Tinybop


While there’s no shortage of apps out there about space, Tinybop’s take on this genre is of special interest given their pedigree as a prolific developer of super stylish apps. Space is their latest, and it follows the classic formula that earned Tinybop’s Infinite Arcade a spot on our Best EdTech of 2016 list; sure it looks good, but it also features elegant play-based learning about our solar system.



There’s really no other app out there like TinyTap, a tool that helps teachers create, share, and publish bite-sized interactive lessons like you’d see on an educational website. We’ve followed their development for awhile, and watched as they’ve evolved and added new, useful features. The latest on the list, “Talk or Type,” makes the tool more accessible, allowing students to respond to questions by speaking or writing.

Did we miss anything? Let us know!

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