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Individualized Instructional Materials
Often, there are many excellent ready-made student instructional materials from which to choose. They can also be an expensive on both the teacher and the parent! However, there will be times when the uniqueness of the students, the instructor’s teaching style or methods, or the lesson objectives require the use of materials that do not exist—or not in the form you require. To meet those situations, a teacher will need to know how to develop and reproduce the necessary student instructional materials him/herself. This module is designed to help the instructor acquire skills in developing and reproducing such materials. You will also be given ideas on how you can cut cost if you are limited to what is prepackaged.
Using Handouts and Transparencies
You, your students, the relationship between you and your students, your lesson objectives, and your school’s resources are unique. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are times when commercially prepared materials to support a particular lesson are not available, not suitable, or not as good as those that could be prepared by you or your students.
Carefully, selected instructional media and materials can help you to do the following:
- Provide concrete experience
- Motivate and arouse interest
- Increase retention
- Develop continuity of thought
- Provide variety in learning
- Provide experience not otherwise easily obtained
- Make better use of instructional time.
Teacher-made handouts and transparencies can do all these things and do them well. Materials prepared by the teacher and the students tend to be more closely related to students’ own method of communication and, therefore, more easily understood by the students than commercially prepared materials.
Furthermore, the act of preparing materials can contribute to understanding—for both teachers and students. And finally, there is a great deal of untapped creativity in teachers and students that can be tapped a bit by their being involved in the preparation of instructional materials.
Information sheets can readily provide students with the information needed to achieve lesson objectives. Be creative and have your students bring in magazine articles on current events. Let them find newspaper clippings on issues that their parents have interest in and let them discuss how this will impact them as students and as future leaders.
Graphs are visual representations of numerical data. Graphs should be simple. They should be used to show comparisons or relationships, and they should deal with approximations, rather than precise amounts, so they tell a story obviously at a glance. The various types of graphs include:
- Line graphs
- Circle or pie graphs
- Area graphs
- Solid figure graphs
- Pictorial graphs
Other methods of presentations include:
- Tree charts
- Flow charts
- Outline charts
- Tabular charts
There is no one best duplication method. The method you select should be based on six factors:
- Type of master available
- Quantity of copies desired
- Quality of copies desired
- Economy: cost of materials and labor
- Time element and urgency
Type of machine available
- Photocopy: Infrared
- Photocopy: Xerographic or Electrostatic
Preparing Transparencies and Handouts
Transparencies should be prepared with the following guidelines in mind:
- Transparencies should be designed to illustrate or emphasize key points you are making; they should not be used to present the total content of your lesson.
- Keep each transparency simple. Preferably, a transparency should deal with only one main point. Too much detail or information on one transparency is distracting and confusing, rather than enlightening.
- Avoid masses of black area, especially when using photocopies as masters. It will not show up as solid black, but as blotchy.
- Put only ten lines or less on a single transparency.
- Do not overuse color.
- Lettering should be large enough to be read easily by students in the last row (minimum letter size, ¼”). Do not attempt to use typewritten lettering; even the largest print sizes are too small and thin.
The quality of handouts that is acceptable may vary depending on their purpose and your situation. Generally speaking, using a xerographic photocopier or offset equipment produces the most professional-looking copies.
No matter what method you choose, the handouts you give your students should be clear, logical, straightforward, concise, error-free, and above all legible.
PowerPoint presentations are a very popular method to use when developing your own teaching materials. There are a wide range of templates that can be customized to suit whatever your subject happens to be. The majority of the templates can be downloaded free from the Microsoft website or you can use the built-in templates available within the program.
Being able to integrate your students photos into the presentation, add sound and even video can greatly enhance the learning situation. There are also many photos from various websites that can add originality to your lesson.
Whatever method you decide to incorporate, experiment with various combinations to see which benefits your students the most. You, as the instructor is no longer limited to use only "pre-packaged" information. Depending on whether you teach at the K-12 level or postgraduate, you will be able to discover exciting ways of informing your students to the wonderful world of learning!
Using the Internet as a Resource
The Internet can contain a wealth of information. If your school embraces technology (and chances are they do) then have a lesson plan built around discovery using the best visual tool around. Research to find just the right sites that contain both static and interactive activities that will give your students the extra edge on understanding current events ... solving complex mathematical equations ... English grammar usage ... learning a foreign language ... the possibilities are endless! Then take that information to create your own interactive sites.
If you aren't familiar with html; there are a lot of software out there that can help. Sometimes companies will either contribute the software or allow teachers to use it at a discount rate. Having your own site can be a big boom to for your teaching resume as well!
Discovering a Wealth of Information
If all else fails, going to your local Goodwill Retail Store can mean discovering a wealth of materials at a very small fraction of the cost. Depending on the store—you can find books for as little as $o.10. One of the best ways of inspiring young minds is through reading. Search for paperbacks that are applicable to the age range of your students. K-12 teachers will find all kinds of informative books that people have discarded on a variety of subjects: Math, History, Politics, and English Literature just to name a few. There are also a wide array of storybooks and activity books that have little to no markings.
A creative teacher can find discarded games and toys that can be used during “rainy day” activities—keeping the students occupied for hours. Felt materials, crayons, construction paper and yarn can be used to bring life to any bland subject. Remember when your teacher gave you a ball of clay? Or perhaps she taught you how to use Paper Mache? Motivate those young minds!