Teachers use a wide variety of tools to foster learning, but what exactly should be used? This lesson outlines some of those instructional materials and their use in the classroom.
So what are instructional materials? Every teacher needs supplies and resources in order to have a successful classroom. Writing utensils, paper, and inspirational wall signs are all useful objects in a classroom, but they are not instructional materials. Instructional materials are the tools used in educational lessons, which includes active learning and assessment. Basically, any resource a teacher uses to help him teach his students is an instructional material. There are many types of instructional materials, but let’s look at some of the most common ones.
Traditional resources include any textbooks and workbooks used in the classroom.
For example, language arts classrooms almost always have literature textbooks, writing textbooks, and even vocabulary and spelling workbooks. In addition to these, traditional resources also include any supplemental reading material, like novels or poems outside of the textbook.These materials can really help to introduce new concepts to your students. For example, when learning the concept of theme, a literature textbook can provide numerous reading materials all displaying theme in different types of literature. In the same way, workbooks can give some useful basic practice activities for a new vocabulary words or even writing activities that might be difficult for students. Then, when mastery is shown on a basic level, a teacher can introduce more challenging material related to that concept.To evaluate these traditional resources, the most important aspect is to make sure you choose material within the resource that appropriately relates to your learning objective.
Most textbooks and workbooks have already been designed to align with certain educational standards and are therefore very reliable in regards to addressing classroom goals. Still, it is important to be sure to choose material within the textbooks that matches your specific learning objective.
A second type of instructional material is the graphic organizer, which is any type of visual representation of information.
Diagrams, charts, tables, flow charts, and graphs are all examples of graphic organizers. For instance, in a math classroom, it is essential to use graphs on a coordinate plane when learning about the equation of a line so that students can actually see how a line is graphed. In language arts, Venn diagrams and plot diagrams are clear instructional tools to use when comparing or analyzing events in a piece of literature. All of these graphic organizers allow students to physically see relationships between ideas. This is imperative for learning, especially for students who are more visually oriented. Seeing a clear relationship is always easier than an abstract idea in your mind.
In fact, having students create their own graphic organizers can be a great way to incorporate active learning. For instance, you can have students read a short story or even an informational article and then create their own visual representation of the information. This pushes students to internalize and apply the information, which requires more thought than simple recall.To evaluate your graphic organizers, the most important aspect is to make sure they support learning and are not merely creative distractions.
Some materials can be very fun and interesting, but if they do not support learning, they should not be included in your lesson. For instance, a Venn diagram on two characters in the novel, A Tale of Two Cities, can be a nice visual, but this is a higher-level novel and needs a more in depth type of graphic organizer. At this level, a Venn diagram is just too simple.
A last type of instructional material comprises any teacher-made resources. These include anything the teacher creates, like handouts, worksheets, tests, quizzes, and projects. Many of these are used for assessment in the classroom, which is determining the level of learning on any given topic.
For instance, different handouts or worksheets can be used throughout a unit to see which students are getting it and which students are struggling.Evaluating these materials is very important. Everything a teacher creates must be a true assessment of the learning objectives. For instance, a test on a more advanced novel needs to show how a student can apply the concepts of theme, character development, conflict, and other literary ideas covered in that unit. In this case, simple recall of plot events should take a lesser role in any teacher-created assessments.
In addition to evaluating true assessment, check teacher-made resources to ensure they provide variety for your students. For instance, question types should be varied for unit exams to include multiple choice, true and false, matching, and open-ended questions. Variety will help to address different strengths and weaknesses in your students and can give you a better idea of whether your test is actually measuring learning.In addition, provide variety in your classroom by giving your students choices. Some things in school cannot be changed, like the textbook or a novel that is required reading.
But when appropriate, allow students to choose the novels they want to read. Students can be given a learning objective and choose poems or novels that relate to it. This not only helps with motivation but provides a chance to see if students can apply concepts to outside sources.Lastly, you will have to provide variety to address those students with special needs.
For students on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or any other kind of learning plan, be sure to consider each student’s level of ability when creating instructional materials. For some, you may have to create a completely different text or handout. For others, you may have to merely cut out certain types of tasks.
To review, instructional materials include any tools a teacher uses in his classroom to help foster learning.
There are many kinds of instructional materials, but some of the most used ones are traditional resources, graphic organizers, and teacher-made resources. Traditional resources include textbooks and workbooks. These are useful tools for introducing new concepts that might be difficult for your students.
Graphic organizers include any visual representations of information. Many students are visual learners, and to physically move details around can help these students see relationships they might not have otherwise seen. Teacher-made resources are anything a teacher makes to use in the classroom. Many of these include tools for assessing student learning throughout a lesson and even at the end of a unit.Every teacher needs to evaluate all instructional materials to make sure that they are related to the learning objective, that they support learning with limited distractions, and that they provide variety and choice.
Look for these things when evaluating your instructional materials in your classroom.
Instructional Materials Vocabulary & Definitions
- Traditional Resources: Traditional resources are any textbooks or workbooks that can be used within a classroom setting to explain new concepts.
- Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers are any form of visual representation of information, such as graphs, diagrams and charts.
- Teacher-Made Resources: Teacher-made resources are constructed by the individual for use in their lesson and feature items such as handouts, tests, worksheets and projects.
After watching this lesson, you should have a full understanding of the three most common types of instructional materials – traditional resources, graphic organizers, and teacher-made resources – and their importance to the process of teaching your students.