Last Updated on 09/09/2022 by James Barron
While teaching I make extensive use of resources as I feel they assist my students learning and make me a more effective teacher. The three primary resources I use are PowerPoint presentations, Handouts/Worksheets and Realia. Beyond these there are others that are ubiquitous to my subject area, such as computers, internet and specific software, such as Visual Studio, without these it would be incredibly challenging to teach and, in many instances, it would be impossible to meet the syllabus requirements. “Although teaching strategies can stand on their own, they are greatly enhanced in their effectiveness if supported by appropriate resources.” (Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014)
I use PowerPoint presentations to assist my schedule while teaching, even if I’m not following the presentation in a linear fashion, I can still use them to prompt the areas I plan to cover. While using a PowerPoint I am able to cover the visual element of VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinaesthetic) but as I talk through the content on the PowerPoint, providing examples and additional information, I also include the Aural element. I will also frequently include guidance, such as code snippets, that will assist students while they complete tasks, providing support for both Reading/Writing and Kinaesthetic tasks. Depending upon the tasks implemented using the PowerPoint I can conduct multiple learning theories throughout the lesson, such as behaviourist targets and the beginning and end with a cognitive task in the middle. Another major impact that my specific use of PowerPoint presentations has had on specific students is my extensive use of the notes section, originally this was to combat a drawback of PowerPoints that the lecturer is often required to explain and provide context to PowerPoint material, providing the additional information relating to what I plan to say within the notes section makes revision easier for students, however, another substantial benefit was highlighted when a student with hearing difficulties found if he misheard anything I said he could read through the notes at his own pace. Other students without hearing difficulties have also found they are able work very effectively outside the teaching establishment by using the PowerPoint presentations and notes section. I use PowerPoints to promote equality and diversity by challenging stereotypes, I do this with the images and names I select and how people are portrayed in scenarios. I feel there are two main negatives for PowerPoint presentations, the first major one is that a computer / mobile is required to view the PowerPoint, this doesn’t have much of an impact while everything is working correctly but does have a major impact if the teaching establishment network is not functioning correctly. The second negative is the lack of differentiation, I am only able to display one slide at a time and, although students can access the PowerPoint on their individual computers, students and I are still limited by the pace of the PowerPoint and those that prefer to read directly from the projector.
Handouts and Worksheets
I use handouts and worksheets often during my teaching, as handouts are incredibly flexible, I use them in a variety of ways, such as specific tasks, additional information, sample code, etc. I particularly like implementing a structure of ramping questions where the first question is easy and the last question is very difficult, this allows me to implement very effective differentiation as I can target students who are coasting with the challenging questions and target students who are struggling with the easier questions. Formative assessment is incredibly easy as I only require students to put their name on the top and hand in the worksheet when finished and I receive detailed results on how much they have understood during the lesson, this information will assist which areas should be revisited and revised in greater detail and also provide quantitative data for my own reflection. Although not a common issue, having a selection of worksheets available for a distracted class will assist in refocusing the group back onto the work while developing their independent working. Worksheets are incredibly flexible so it is easy to develop a worksheet targeted for any level and then adjust the questions for a different level. Worksheets also support reasonable adjustments for inclusion very effectively, such as printing the worksheet on specific coloured paper or in a specific font to aid students with Dyslexia. Worksheets are very easy to create, photocopying a section of text while covering specific words provides a gapped worksheet, varying the words and number of words covered creates a differentiated gapped worksheet. Worksheets are relatively cheap to produce as the cost is only a single piece of paper and the level of ink required. Storage of printed worksheets can be challenging, however, storing the digital file and printing the worksheet on demand requires no additional storage and is far more efficient. There are negatives to using worksheets; students will frequently lose them so they should not be relied upon for notes or revision. Many students will find the concept of a worksheet boring and very like school and this can be a contentious resource as a result; not referring to them as worksheets in class reduces this negative.
Whenever possible I will introduce realia into to my classes, I feel students being able to interact with the resources they will have available in the workplace is an essential element of preparing them for the work place. For example, in hardware classes the components students use to build a computer are relatively low cost so that if broken the consequences are minor, however, the differences in appearance between low and high cost components is substantial, as a result I created a task in which students had to identify various components without touching in a high-end virtual reality system. Although this was a valuable lesson for students it was still risky and relied heavily on my trust of the students, if I wasn’t able to trust the students, I wouldn’t have been able to provide this experience for them. Introducing realia is incredibly flexible as it can be used for numerous activities, including starters, identification tasks, evaluation of features, etc. Some types of realia can present challenges in the form of inclusion, for example, the jumper pins on a motherboard are incredibly small and fiddly, this will likely cause problems for students with fine motor skill challenges. A solution for this problem is to include a selection of realia that will be inclusive for all students within the class. Realia can vary greatly in terms of how difficult it is to create and the cost, this will need to be evaluated along with whether it is suitable for a specific group before use. Storage can also be a challenge when using realia as a resource as it is unlikely it can be stored digitally and, depending upon the size, can present an issue as storage space is often at a premium.
Gould, J., & Roffey-Barentsen, J. (2014). Achieving your diploma in education and training (1st ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.