Are you an ESL teacher searching the internet for free teaching tools for teachers?
Maybe you are at a point in your life where you are making a career switch and pivoting to online teaching in order to carve out a new and exciting career path!
It’s incredible how many free resources are available online and using the right tools can ensure that your classes run smoothly.
Although technology glitches at unpredictable moments, you can always limit the chances of this happening by knowing what options you have for teaching your virtual class.
Whatever your situation is, there will be something here for you to take away and incorporate into your online classes for free!
Types of online teaching tools for teachers
When you are searching for that perfect free tool, you will often find that once the trial ends, that resource comes with a price.
But if you are on a budget, the following 11 free tools will give you what you need to get started and deliver excellent online classes.
To start, these tools fall into 5 categories:
- Free software tools for running your online classes
- Free resources to boost engagement
- Free tools to stay organized and productive
- Best online assessment tools
- Best apps for designing and creating content
We are going to dive into each of them and offer some examples of how the tool can help you as a teacher.
Free software to run your online classes
Every online teacher will need software that will allow them to connect with their online students easily and quickly.
Software programs for online teachers need to include video, have the option to share screens and use a whiteboard for instruction and in order to chat with their students.
There are lots of software tools out there, but these rise to the top of the list for quality, stability and ease of use.
Zoom is probably the most popular online software in the market for holding meetings, classes and online get-togethers, especially since the start of the pandemic.
Zoom offers the following to their users:
- Chat function to chat with your whole class or individual students
- Breakout rooms to separate students into groups for discussions
- Share screen function to share your screen or allow students to share their screen
- A built-in whiteboard with text and drawing features to share with your students.
The free version allows up to 100 participants, unlimited one-on-one meetings but a limit of only 40 minutes for group meetings.
Zoom is a great option for teachers who need a platform to teach their students since this app is used worldwide and most people are comfortable and familiar with its functions.
Google Meet for teachers is another popular software application for online tutors, virtual teachers and anyone conducting classes online because of its integration with Google’s suite of other apps like Google Classroom and Google Drive.
Google Meet offers the following free options for its users:
- Share screen to your students
- Adjust your layouts
- Group classes up to 1 hour
- Chat with students in the chatbox
- And other normal features of a virtual video conferencing platform
Anyone with a Google account can create a video meeting or virtual class of up to 100 students (participants) and meet up to 60 minutes for free.
If you are conducting one-on-one tutoring classes, you can spend up to 24 hours together (but why would you?!).
GoToMeeting, as stated on their website, puts the “class in online classes.”
They are an up-and-coming competitor to some of the larger video platforms because of how they gear their functions to suit teachers and students in an online class.
With their free account, you can expect:
- Personal URLs for students to join the class
- Instant messaging, file sharing & screen sharing
- Powerful mobile capabilities for students
- Clean and simple interface with powerful functions
Unfortunately, their free version is quite limiting but it will allow you 40-minute classes/meetings but with only up to 3 participants.
GoToMeeting free would be perfect for independent tutors who have 1-3 students and classes under 40 minutes.
Free resources to boost engagement in your online lessons
There are tons of free resources online that will help boost the excitement in your online lessons.
If you are looking for powerful and interactive resources that let you build lessons that students will love, then look no further than Boom Cards and Nearpod.
Boom Cards are self-checking interactive activities that give students real-time feedback on their responses.
Here’s how they work:
- You create the Boom Cards in advance or use pre-created decks from other teachers
- You use the fast play option (for free) and get a link to send to students
- Your students are shown one question at a time and given real-time feedback on their answer
- They can correct themselves or simply discard the card
- You can also differentiate instruction with Boom Cards and assign certain cards to certain students
You can only use the fast play option with the free version and you will not be able to track progress but you can upgrade at any time under different price packages.
I love the idea of Boom Cards for a creative way to assess students where they won’t even realize they are learning!
Nearpod allows teachers to make any lesson interactive. Take those boring worksheets and make them fun and engaging.
Or, pull in videos and other interactive content into your Nearpod lesson.
Let’s check out how it works:
- Jump over to Nearpod and create a free account.
- Browse Nearpod’s thousands of lessons in the Nearpod Library or create your own.
- Once you create your own lesson you just add slides like you would in any presentation software.
- The difference is that instead of just adding text or images (which you still can), nearpod has lots of other fun options like quizzes, polls, and games to make it fun.
- You give your students a code to enter and then you are ready to go!
The difference between Nearpod’s free and paid version is the amount of storage you get and the number of students that can join at one time.
Free tools to stay organized and productive
If you are a teacher struggling to stay organized with your students and the many tasks that go into teaching then look no further than apps like Asana and Trello.
Secret: my favorite is Asana!
Asana is your personal teaching secretary all in one powerful app that gives you control over your tasks, projects and to-do lists.
Essentially, Asana is a productivity management solution for teams, individuals or anyone that needs more control over their tasks.
Teachers will enjoy Asana for a number of reasons.
Firstly, from a simple angle of gaining control over the multitude of to-do’s and projects that teachers need to manage, this app will do it all.
Some ways that teachers can use Asana in their teaching life can include:
- Creating lesson plan tasks with manageable subtasks that have deadlines
- Managing students’ information, progress and other important details
- Helping with teams of teachers to manage projects that need to be completed
- Create online lesson plans that allow teachers to see what parts of the lesson were and weren't completed
This app is great for teachers in brick-and-mortar schools as well as online teachers who need to gain control over their schedule by focusing on what matters each day.
Additionally, if you are a teacherpreneur building your own online teaching business, Asana will be your go-to place to make sure that everything in your business is running smoothly.
With the free account, teachers will be able to create projects and tasks through a variety of different layouts.
Trello is another online productivity app that works similar to Asana but has some differences.
Trello is a collaboration tool that lets you organize your projects into boards.
It can tell you what’s being worked on and where your tasks are in terms of the completion process.
Of course, it also lets you add to-do lists, tasks and other similar features to Asana.
Best online assessment tools
Quizlet is a free tool that helps teachers create learning activities for students, like flashcards, study material and interactive quiz games.
The amazing thing about Quizlet is that it can really be used at any grade level and any age! Students love the game-based feature of Quizlet and you are helping them get prepared for assessments without even realizing it.
So, let’s take a look at how it works:
- You, as the teacher, create study sets for your students.
- These study sets can be used as review activities or it can be a quiz game to help students review for a test.
- The student can log in and choose the appropriate study set, either created by the teacher or by others.
That’s it! It’s that easy.
In my opinion, Quizlet is great for students because it allows the teacher to:
- Differentiate instruction with the activities that you create
- Teach collaborative skills because students are working together
- Help prepare students for assessments and tests
Quizlet, while is a great free tool for teachers, does have limitations and should be used as one resource in your classroom among the many others that you have access to.
Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that makes it really simple for teachers to create and share learning games or quizzes in a matter of minutes with their students.
Once you create a Kahoot quiz or game, you share a simple access code that lets students log on and join the game.
Teachers can create their own assessment games or use premade lessons from other teachers in the Kahoot library.
Here are the steps to making the magic happen in your virtual or online classroom:
- Create - you can design your own kahoot with images and diagrams to make your questions more engaging and to support all learners who are playing
- Play - Once the kahoot is created, teachers share the unique PIN with their students who can join on their own device wherever they are located. It is best played live in a group setting either in a classroom or a virtual classroom. However, teachers can also send challenges that players complete at their own pace (ie: homework or remote learning)
- Share - Kahoots can be shared with the broader Kahoot community which lets others access your Kahoots
Best apps for designing and creating content
As teachers, we are always needing to create things for our students and it can be difficult to find free tools that let us create quality content to use in our classrooms.
Look no further than Canva and Google Slides to make great resources for our classrooms.
Canva is amazing! It is a free tool, although there are premium features you can pay for that lets you create just about anything for your classroom.
You can create and design all types of content within Canva using their free account that looks professional and can be used with your students in your virtual classroom, or brick-and-mortar classroom.
Think of Canva as your easy-to-use plug-and-play design assistant.
Do you need a presentation? Do you need a cover slide for something?
Let’s look at how teachers can use Canva as a free tool to create lessons for their students.
Canva lets teachers create:
- Lesson plans
- Virtual backgrounds (for Zoom, etc.)
- Teaching resume
...and so much more!
Look no further than Canva for your go-to tool to design just about anything you need.
Google Slides, while more limiting than Canva, is another easy-to-use, free tool for teachers to use to make lessons, presentations and content for their classroom.
Part of the Google Suite of apps, Google Slides acts as your web-based presentation tool similar to applications like PowerPoint or Keynote.
With a free Google account, you have access to Google Slides and can create unlimited presentations to use in your classroom.
Simply go to Google Drive and make a new Google Slide presentation. You can choose from their pre-made templates or make your own.
Once you have made your presentation template you can add:
You can customize color, font and all the normal features of a presentation program.
Since it is part of the suite of Google Apps, you can have students create their own presentations collaboratively or individually.
Google slides can also be shared with others with ease of use or you can download them as PDF files.
Have fun and keep learning
There you have it!
While there are hundreds of free teaching tools for teachers online, there are 11 free teaching tools to get you started and help you with creating engaging lessons, organizing your busy teacher life, and running your online and virtual classes.
If you are looking for a course to help you with your online teaching, this online teaching course will do the trick and help to get you started with becoming the best online teacher you can be.
The most important thing is to keep learning about the best free tools available to teachers that will create the most engaging and interactive classes for your students.