Games, if home made and laminated can be a cost effective and durable resource and can be a great engaging activity. They can promote both competition and team work and can help both in terms of group interaction and in supporting individual learners. Some learners especially those with short concentration spans can use a light hearted game as a great learning resource. They are especially valuable for use with kinaesthetic learners.
I teach an Entry 2 literacy group at present many of whom have a limited concentration span. In preparation for a project of ‘A Country’ I used a game to generate discussion about some of the topics we would be looking at such as climate, people, culture and religion of different countries. It worked to a degree but I felt the game needed to be adapted to include more topics with open questions as when threw the dice some of the questions came up too regularly . (See adapted game attached). We played the adapted game and I felt that this session went much better and the students enjoyed the game more. As Petty says ‘games can produce intense involvement, and a quality of concentration no other teaching method can match.’ The country gamed I used was a short one to suit my learners needs. I made the game on A4 paper which I then used the photocopier to enlarge to A3. I then stuck on card ready for use. I intend to laminate the game as it will be sturdier.
Realia Realia includes real life things that one can bring into the classroom. It can add a real life dimension to the topic the learners are studying and is especially valuable for those students with a kinaesthetic learning style. For my entry 2 literacy class I have asked the students to bring in maps, travel brochures and pictures from the country of their choice. It encourages discussion and can play a great role on the learning process.
People When we talk about resources we often tend to forget that people can be a great resource. From other helpful tutors to visiting speakers, in fact, anyone who comes into class and helps the learning process. In my Entry 3 class we had a link up volunteer for a number of weeks Not only was he helpful to individual students and supported their learning but he also gave a talk to the class about the facilities at the library to help jobseekers. Other tutors have helped with resources and we did a session on how to adapt resources for learners.
Students made resources for others to share and I shared the resource I made and also showed another student how to make it, emailed it to him so that he could add his own unique text. This sharing is resources is extremely helpful for teachers as is the networking about the useful websites for resources and new developments in educational. One student photocopied a number of educational issues she copied from the web and shared them with the other students. This sharing of resources amongst the trainees teachers is very common and useful to enable us to adapt and use resources with our learners as well as keeping up to date with new resources and developments in the field.
There is a whole host of other resources available that can be used with learners such as flipcharts (I have used flipchart paper on some occasions). I find that flipchart paper is well suited to presentations as the large size means that it can be seen easily by learners and they can be put up around the room to aid recall. The disadvantage I have found with flipcharts is that the room was small and students often struggles to find space to write on the paper.
Other resources such as the ‘skills for life packs’ I have used with both my Enty 3 and Entry 2 class. I have found the packs on the whole to provide a range of suitable material for learners of all levels, using a variety of materials to suit learners of different background. Sometimes, though the page is too crowded and I have found it useful having the materials on a CD rom so that it is easy to pick and choose the materials that I wish to use and very easy to adapt, mix and insert ones own material as well. I have used the audio cd from the skills for life packs as well. I have found it can be confusing to find a particular part of the CD as the tracks are not named. I try out the CD in the classroom first before using with the students.
The above resources are only a small sample of the resources available for use in the classroom. The internet is great for resources and new websites are constantly emerging. However, perhaps the most important things to remember about resources is as mentioned earlier to make them interesting, suitable for the learning objective, relevant, appropriately laid out and spaced and appropriate to the subject and student abilities. As Susan Wallace notes we may spend a long time labouring over a handout but if it very dense and not well laid out then there is a good chance that the students will not read it. (Wallace S 2001). One should try to avoid materials that are sexist, demeaning, or which portray people in a stereotypical way.
Computer can be a great resource to support learning the classroom. There are many websites on the internet such as bbc skillswise that provides exercises for learners and sites such as talent have a range of resources that teachers can be adapt. There are also many other sites that share resources freely with teachers as a Google search will reveal. The advantages of using computers as a resource are manifold. It can add variety, interest and encourage independent learning. On the other hand using a computer is dependent on the level of skill of the learner, teacher and on technical help being available when needed.
During our topic on skills for work my entry 3 group used a computer to access various sites to find out what skills would be required for various jobs. There is only one computer in the classroom which made things difficult. I first had to show some students how to use the internet to access the site and it was quite crowded around the computer and I was not able to monitor the work the others were doing whilst I was showing students the website. It would be difficult to use the computer on a regular basis in the class because the room was very small and the area around the computer cramped.
Instead I asked students to work with the computer outside the classroom as they have access to the computers in the library. They used computers to type up their work. They were all working on a project identifying three jobs and the skills and duties that would be required to do those jobs. I also asked students to access the internet for homework and find out about the jobs they were interested in. Connexions, although mainly aimed at younger students, had a wide range of information available for the post 16 student.
Some of my learners made good use of this website. Most of the students were familiar with computers but some felt they needed some help with the internet and one student had not used the internet at all. Computers, as with all resources, should be used to support the learning objective, to meet individual learners needs and to support the learning style of all learners. Computers can provide stimuli for aural, visual and kinaesthetic learners. One should constantly evaluate and adapt resources to meet the needs of our learners