Instructional Materials: Definition, Examples & Evaluation

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  • 0:01 Instructional Materials
  • 0:37 Traditional Resources
  • 1:56 Graphic Organizers
  • 3:37 Teacher-Made Resources
  • 5:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

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.

Instructional Materials

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

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.

Graphic Organizers

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.

Teacher-Made Resources

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.

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