Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Q & A on Supplementary Materials in the Classroom

With permission from the interviewer, I'm posting the set of questions she sent and my answers.

1. Why is it important for a teacher to use supplementary materials in the classroom?

Information and knowledge are not confined in textbooks. Supplementary materials (to me, it would mean teaching tools, instructional materials, AV teaching aids, etc.) offer a wide range of ideas, concepts, perspectives and ways of creating and communicating information and knowledge. Using supplementary materials challenges teachers and students to go beyond the prescribed curriculum. So, it's like putting into practice the learned concepts, skills and values in real life.

There are many sources of information and knowledge and these come in various formats. I think teachers need to continuously learn how to use these formats and media in teaching, as well as, identify effectively information and knowledge they can use in instruction.

You may look for this longitudinal study online, What Reading Does for the Mind by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith Stanovich, that discuss the effects of providing a variety of instructional materials (print, non-print, AV, online resources, social games, etc.) to students. One of the results is that, by exposing students to different learning and instructional resources would lead to the development of strong verbal and linguistic skills. Language is a cognitive process, so thinking skills are strengthened when teachers use many tools for teaching alongside sound pedagogy.

I use this research often in my talks among librarians to encourage them in building a collection that adheres to different learning styles and providing library services and programs to teachers that would challenge their pedagogical beliefs, assuming that, teachers still subscribe to old and routine methods.

2. What guidelines/criteria should a teacher follow in choosing which ones to use?

a. Knowledge of student/learner - Teachers must know who their students are. And they need help to be able to know them - parents, guidance counselor, school leaders. It takes a village to raise a child, so goes the African proverb.

b. Curriculum and context of the learning community - This will help the teacher, and those helping him/her teach well, get in touch with internal resources and external ones.

c. Pedagogy - There are specific instructional aids and teaching tools that match a particular teaching approach, technique, method and strategy.

3.  What are the today's limitations to your choices of supplementary materials available today in your subject area?

As a school librarian, budgetary constraint is a limitation. To remedy this problem, I source out from outer libraries in the academe, public, corporate and government agencies. Interlibrary loan and library consortia are ways to fill the resource gap as well. There are many online resources, but students need models and guides to use them responsibly and effectively. I still feel that, we need more print materials in the mother tongue and local knowledge. For example, our school is in Binan, Laguna. I am building a Filipiniana collection, but I feel I need to start developing a collection that has info and knowledge on Binan as a city and Laguna as a province. Our school may be an IB World School, but global education and international mindedness begin with an understanding of local history and local knowledge.  The issues and problems that affect the world are the same in the local and national levels.

This would mean, I need to develop a strategy to start a library collection that touches on these concerns. By collection I mean physical, virtual and intellectual kinds.

4.  What are your particular favorites among supplementary materials you have used?

Print format - I like recommending to teachers good fiction that has the theme of their unit of study. I also suggest creative non-fiction to ease big concepts in the content areas. Literature mirrors life :-)

Online formats - EBSCO and Project Muse are current favorites

I'm using Prezi for my presentations in class. I think I'll be a Mac user forever because the apps and ease of use that it offers is just right for a busy person like me.

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