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[Teacher Tools] 11 Free Resources to Support Online Teaching and Learning

[Teacher Tools] 11 Free Resources to Support Online Teaching and Learning

There is chaos in our world due to COVID-19, and we’re all struggling with it. Educators are at the front lines helping students navigate this new normal as schools and districts make the switch to online and distance education to make sure that learning continues to move forward. It’s also an opportunity to offer a stabilizing, comforting force for children in need and to provide an essential sense of routine. It’s also a lot of pressure—especially for teachers who have not been provided with all the tools and training to feel confident facilitating virtual learning.

Above all, being a teacher takes passion, dedication, and a real love for students. Educators making the transition to online learning with their students already have those things, and more than cutting-edge tools or perfect pedagogy, it’s what really matters right now. Step one is taking care of your students; step two is everything else.

When you’re ready to take on step two, there are so many great (and free!) resources already available to support creative, engaging online learning for students at all grade levels. Now is the time to lean on other educators for ideas and assistance. In our Edmentum Educator Network Facebook group, members have been sharing some great tools and strategies they use to make online learning effective (if you don’t have access to the group yet, just ask!). Check out the list below for teacher-tested, teacher-approved, no-cost programs to explore.

Rewordify.com: Online tool to simplify difficult English wording based on reading level for improved comprehension and build vocabulary. Think about using this tool with complex text that your students might struggling with, or to make the step into a more complex topic.

Seesaw: Student engagement platform that allows teachers to share and students to complete creative lessons, activities, and portfolio pieces and provides a family portal. This is a great tool for students to share their work with you, show off their best work, or facilitate the process to get to their best work. 

GeoGebra: Online math tools featuring calculators, graphing programs, probability and geometry supports, and more. This tool does a great job providing students with an avenue to practice skills—try having students use these tools to lead learning for their peers in small, collaborative groups via video conferencing.

Zoom: Secure cloud-based communication platform including video, audio, and text chat. Use it to facilitate live lessons, one-to-one student meetings, office hours, PLC discussions, and more. 

Natural Reader: Text-to-speech program that converts written text into spoken words and includes dyslexia support. Why not have your students search passages of prose or poetry and record their own version? Your class can then review both and decide who did it best.

Sight Words: Lists, lessons, flashcards, and word games using the Fry sight words to help emerging readers/spellers build vocabulary and quickly recognize the most common words in written text. This can be a great tool to use as a card game. Have caregivers or students put these words onto cards, and play Go Fish, WAR, or make up your own simple game and share with the rest of the class.

Do2Learn: Designed specifically for learners with special needs, this site provides thousands of free activities to support communication and interpersonal skills, behavior regulation, job skills, and more. This is a great site to share with caregivers as it includes lots of options for creating schedules and order in this new world.

Padlet: Collaborative tool to easily create and share content as digital collections such as webpages, bulletin boards, blogs, portfolios, and more. Consider using this tool to have students create vision boards or organize research for large projects.

Smithsonian Learning Lab: Curated collections and digital access to resources from across the Smithsonian’s museums, including many lesson plans. This site can be a great launching point for a virtual field trip (lots of other museums, zoos, and places of interest have similar tools in place!).

A Web Whiteboard: Online, interactive whiteboard application to facilitate real-time collaborative learning and problem-solving. Host an interactive grammar lesson by sharing movie quotes and having students diagram sentences, or build math skills by tackling difficult equations as a group.

Flipgrid: Social learning platform to record and share short videos to facilitate virtual class-wide and small-group discussions. This is a great tool to check in on your students in a fun, interactive way. Ask them to submit a short video reading their favorite passage aloud, telling a story, or reciting step-by-step instructions for a project.

Looking for more tips, ideas, and support as all educators navigate the transition to online learning? Check out our recorded webinar “Navigating Virtual Instruction: Answering Educator Questions,” and keep an eye on our ongoing series of live webinars focused on support for COVID-19 school closures.

 

winnie.oleary's picture

Winnie O’Leary has spent over 25 years in education, as a classroom teacher, school board member, a family advocate, special education teacher, curriculum writer and currently a Curriculum Manager for Edmentum. Her experiences have allowed her to work with districts all over the country where she finds something new and exciting every day.