How To Choose Teaching Materials

With recent legislation to meet No Child Left Behind requirements, it has become essential for teachers to choose the right materials that will enhance student learning.  Here are a few tips on how to pick the best materials for your classes.

  1. Know national and state standards.  All teachers for every subject are required to meet national and state standards with their curriculum.  The first step is to know these standards.  Also, be sure to check your school district's standards to make sure you are meeting those requirements if they are different than state or national standards.  Once you understand these areas that need to be addressed, you can more easily choose the appropriate materials.
  2. Choose age and level appropriate materials.  There is nothing worse for your students than a lesson that is at a level that is cognitively too hard or way below their learning levels.  It will bore them and they will not absorb the information like you had hoped.  Knowing your audience should be a primary step when you plan your lessons.
  3. Check your textbooks for ideas.  Most teacher's edition textbooks come with a range of supplemental materials, or have materials that are available for purchase.  These easily fit in with the lessons you derive from your textbooks and can range from overhead transparencies, to workbook or hands-on activities.  Some books even have websites with supplemental technology materials that are evolving more quickly than their print versions.  These resources can be invaluable in keeping your lessons fresh and up-to-date.
  4. Browse the internet for new and interesting ideas.  There are a lot of great lesson plans teachers are willing to share.  The best resource is often colleagues who have tested out the plans and seen them work firsthand.  There are many great sites for lesson plans of all types.  Be sure to read them all carefully and choose which ones you think the students will get the most out of at the appropriate level.
  5. Know what materials are available for your use.  There are a million wonderful and great lesson plans available on the internet or through other resources, but not all are cost-effective or even usable in all classrooms.  Let's face it; most schools are running on a tight budget and the latest gadgetry may be out of reach financially.  Creativity is essential in instances like this.  See what you have available already, or see what you can borrow from other teachers, and then plan your lesson around those materials.

Making a lesson come alive can really enhance your students' learning.  Be creative and see what you can come up with to really get the students involved by choosing interesting materials.


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