This post features a list of 5 free tools for teachers who enjoy making their own teaching resources or would like to start and don’t really know how. Below, I am talking about online tools you might use to create visuals, presentations, animations, comics, and quizzes.
The tools I’m mentioning here might be used by you, the teacher, to create something for your students, or you might choose to involve your learners: use the tools in the classroom together or let your students use them at home.
Let me start by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. I’m just a humble blogging teacher trying to share some useful information with whoever might be reading.
I’m a big fan of creating my own teaching resources (as is probably pretty evident from this blog) and for quite some time now I’ve been trying to move past creating extra worksheets that accompany the coursebook. I have been basically trying to move past coursebooks as a) I teach loads of individual classes (some of them online) where I very often don’t even use a coursebook b) I really enjoy planning whole lessons based on articles or videos I find online. Whenever I read or see something interesting, I try to assess it from a teacher’s perspective:
- Could I use it with any of the students I teach?
- Does it represent any educational value?
- Does it lend itself to practice any grammar point?
- Could it be a useful prompt for a speaking class?
- Is there anything there my exam-prepping students would benefit from?
Since the answer tends to be “yes” more often than “no”, I’ve been looking for some solutions to help me make suitable teaching materials from scratch. Some teachers might not agree with me, but I firmly believe that eye-pleasing teaching resources are way more motivating for students to use, regardless of their age. This is why it is important for me to create materials that are not only meeting my students’ learning goals but are also visually appealing. The five tools I mention below let me do just that.
Canva is my go-to online tool and my absolute personal favourite. I’m not sure whether there is anything Canva can’t do: worksheets, flashcards, board games, infographics, posters… you name it. It has made my teaching life so much easier: no more drawing, colouring or odd-looking tables I was trying to make in Word (yes, I’m not the best at that).
Canva is free to use (as long as you use free elements they provide and believe me, there are plenty to knock yourself out), very intuitive, and most importantly, allows you to make visually appealing and useful teaching materials in a matter of minutes and then download them to your device or store them online for as long as you want. I can’t stress enough how useful and versatile this tool is. Almost every visual, worksheet and infographic you will find on this website has been made using Canva.
Powtoon allows you to make your own animated presentations. Sounds cool, huh? There are plenty of free templates and elements to choose from, you might upload a background music track and a voiceover for your slides without having to use any external programmes and edit the animation using tons of fun effects. You might create cool presentations for your classes or engage your students in the process: writing the story, recording it, creating the visuals… yes, it’s all possible in an English classroom.
Powtoon is very easy to use with its drag-and-drop feature and an intuitive interface (for those of you used to PowerPoint, Powtoon will seem like its cooler version). As a free user, you can’t download your creations, but you can access them online at any time, upload them to YouTube, and share them via social media. Here you can see an example of a short and simple video I used in class to practice using Present Simple to talk about everyday routines.
Are you familiar with Buzzfeed and their quirky quizzes? What if I told you that you could make similar ones for your students? (dealing with English language matters more than with Ryan Gosling, though) This is where Qzzr comes in. It makes it possible to create online quizzes, share them via social media or embed them on your website. You can make your Qzzr quizzes visually attractive by adding pictures or even embedding videos. Sounds like a cool revision game idea, doesn’t it. Here’s an example of a quiz I’ve used with my online intermediate students to revise ed/ing adjectives.
Even though I’ve never been great with PowerPoint, I’ve always thought presentations were a very useful classroom tool and I’ve been trying to use them effectively in class on my quest to paperlessness. They are also one of my favourite online teaching tools. I’ve been using both prezi and emaze and it’s hard to decide which one I prefer. They are both free (more free templates available on prezi), incredible visually, and have similar functionality (sharing and embedding). Recently I might have been using emaze more as I really enjoy the simple presentation template they offer (still easier for me than PowerPoint, how could that be?) but if you are a fan of funky slide transitions there is plenty of that offered by emaze as well. I’ve used emaze to create presentations for these lessons: Food waste lesson plan and Time capsule speaking activity.
I was introduced to Pixton by one of my students who is a big comics fan and he used it to make some really awesome comic strips. I decided to harness the interest (especially younger) students might have for comics and use it in the classroom.
Pixton allows you to create comic strips. If you think that’s nothing special, think again. I’ve been using Pixton for longer projects with my students (I admit, when kids or teens get their hands on a character creation tool it might get time-consuming, this is a classroom management issue though) where creating a comic strip was the last step of a longer process: developing a storyline, characters, dialogues, and describing the setting. It’s a great tool to promote both writing and reading. Other than creating your own expressive comics, you are able to browse through a library and find some interesting reading material for your students (or ask them to find something for themselves!)
These are my top 5 free tools for creating teaching resources. They are all very easy to use (and I’m seriously not all that great with technology), and most importantly, really helpful in developing effective materials for your students.
Are there any other cool tools out there you’d like to add to the list? Leave a comment!