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Relevance of Instructional Tools in Classroom Transaction

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September 14, 2017

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Relevance of Instructional Tools in Classroom Transaction

Ken Robinson, in one of his Ted talks titled ‘Bring on the learning revolution’, talks about crisis in education. The most interesting fact about his talk is that he considers human resources as natural resources, often buried deep and that human life is organic. He strongly suggests that there ought to be a shift from industrial model of education to a model based more on agricultural principles. He further explains that we must recognise that human flourishing is not a mechanical process but an organic one. Hence, the outcome of human development cannot be predicted and like a farmer, educationists need to create the conditions under which children begin to flourish.


Just like the farmer, teachers as catalysts create the right learning environment to facilitate students’ knowledge and understanding. As such, the need to use the right tools to enhance the development of each child in terms of cognition, creativity and thinking come to the fore.

Any concrete teaching-learning materials that stimulate pupils’ senses and facilitate concept attainment and better retention of those concepts in pupils simultaneously developing their thinking and creativity can be called ‘Instructional tools’.

They can be broadly divided into five categories.

Visual– The chalkboard, the content book or additional reference material and display boards in the class are primary instructional resources. The chalkboard work needs to be planned in advance and organised well. Using a roller board or charts can be a time saver. Graphic organisers, globes, maps, posters, practical demonstration of experiments are tools that appeal to the visual sense.

Auditory– Radio, CD players activate the hearing sense and develop listening skills. Such tools are mostly used in languages or literature classes.

Audio-Visual– These tools can be used to teach Sciences, Maths, Social Science and languages too. Working models, theorems, concepts related to geography can be taught well using the support of Audio-Visual tools.

Visual–tactile– These materials are primarily used at pre-school or kindergarten levels. Pupils see and touch things to understand concepts. For example textures, patterns, shapes can be taught using tools pertaining to the visual-tactile sense.

Visual–Kinesthetic– In this category, students get an opportunity to see the material and use them. It could be printed or pictorial resources. Students may sit individually or in groups to work on them or they may also move about. For example – map work can be done sitting in a place. A math relay involves movement of the body to learn a concept.

What is the criterion for selection of instructional tools?

Instructional tools are said to be meaningful when they

  • Assist in achieving instructional objectives
  • Stimulate and create an interest in learning
  • Are age and level appropriate
  • Are content related
  • Give scope for interaction in the class
  • Are used appropriately at the right time

The advantages of using Instructional tools in the teaching – learning process: –

  • They create a stimulating environment
  • They make learning active and engaging
  • They break monotony
  • They provide direct or first – hand learning experiences to pupils
  • They facilitate concept attainment and better retention.

How to manage resources?

  • It is imperative to document the use of instructional tools for further reference
  • Tools must be preserved for multiple uses.
  • A separate place must be arranged for storage of such tools.
  • Any instructional tool should not be limited to a few students. So making optimal use of resources, i.e., sharing with other teachers can benefit a large number of students.

Michael Hubenthal and Thomas O’Brien in their research – Revisiting your classroom’s walls – The pedagogical power of posters, conclude that ‘The visual complexity of text and small images can set up an overwhelming visual/verbal competition between text and graphics for which students must gain control in order to give meaning to information.’

This study suggests that teachers must ensure not to over stimulate students or cause mitigation of auditory skills. While selecting instructional tools, teachers need to carefully evaluate them and their significance in developing comprehension and understanding of a given topic. If the tools are not relevant, they make no sense. For example – for the topic Visualising solid shapes in Mathematics for Grade 8, showing students 3D wooden shapes is not appropriate; such shapes are shown at primary level. Instead, students can be asked to find shapes either in patterns or structures. In topics, wherein content has to be dealt through questioning and discussion, using instructional tools might distract students. In a way, teachers have to be reflective practitioners in order to successfully choose and make good use of resources.

I dream and work for a tomorrow wherein there is less baggage on students’ shoulders and there is a marked shift from the factory model of education to a more meaningful model based on agricultural principles. I am a firm believer in revolutionizing ‘Early Childhood Education’ and professionalizing its teaching and also presented a paper in a UNICEF sponsored conference on the the same theme organised by Azim Premji University and AECED. I am currently experimenting with blending various forms of Arts into learning. In addition to being a teaching professional, I am also a storyteller and a theatre art teacher. I write short stories using the pseudonym Sitara on Readomania and Storyweaver. I presently teach at Delhi Public School, Vijayawada and can be reached at englishteacher.dps@gmail.com


A Utopian World

Together we can build and create
A Utopian world – a wonderful world.
But wait;
For that we will have
To muster stupendous courage
To break the fort
Of indomitable state
Of intolerance and hatred
That has sabotaged
The views of other races, colour,
Religious beliefs and order,
For their insanity and whimsicality
And foremost, those hatemongers-
ISIS, JAISH, BOKO and hardcore ‘SAFFRONITES’
The ilk love mayhem, unrest and genocide
Their approach is misanthropic;
Their mind is perverted, polluted
And clogged with utter negativity
Oh brothers, come on one platform
And propagate love and peace
And teach the lesson of humanism
Where only world peace and love prevail
O’ God help us eliminate
Such black marauders
Who are a minority,
Yet overpowering the masses
And callously shedding
Innocent human blood
Irrespective of place and land
O’ God help us
And bolster our spirits
For this noble cause
And make the world
Once again a better place
Accommodating every one
With our ideology on humanism
With whatever religion, colour
And race we are
Rush, brothers to form that Utopian World
Before it is too late
Come friends,
Together we can.
In the end I hail the initiative
Of Indian crusaders
Bearing the flag of Not in my name
–S I M Jafri

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The Progressive Teacher