In formal education in the classroom, media used properly can greatly increase learning. There are no rules that state exactly what medium to use in any given situation. A unit on the water cycle could be taught with a
flannel board presentation
simple chalkboard drawing
What is chosen will depend largely upon the objectives of the instruction and the media available; however, characteristics of the various media and instructor preferences will influence selection. Following are suggestions for use in several subject-matter areas.
The world is an interesting place for the child; he is continually asking the question "why." This curiosity about the world opens a natural avenue for introducing the child to science and scientific study. Through the use of media, many elements of his environment can be brought into the classroom for the child's study of science in meaningful activities.
- All around are things to collect - plants (seeds, blossoms, roots, stems); soil varieties (sand, gravel, clay, foam); rocks, minerals, fossils, shells, bones; chameleons, mice, snakes, fish, insects; feathers, eggs, hair, skins. Such collections are basic to exhibits and displays.
Students will become involved when they contribute individually to the collections. Group involvement can be accomplished through class field trips to collect items. Students will learn firsthand the source of collectable items and gain knowledge about the natural habitat of insects, seeds, etc. Writing about their collecting experience integrates science and language arts activities.
- An aquarium or cages are means for keeping fish and small animals alive in the classroom. Making students responsible for the preparation of containers and the care and feeding of fish and animals provides valuable first-hand experience. The UNESCO handbooks on the Teaching of Science in Tropical Countries offer good suggestions for building cages, feeding, and animal care. Science, health, and math skills can be integrated when pupils keep charts and records of the animals' food consumption and weight increases.
- Conducting experiments is fundamental to successful science teaching. Basically, an experiment is a demonstration. The UNESCO handbooks, previously mentioned, offer many suggestions for simple experiments for which resources are available in most villages.
- Diagrams are useful for teaching cyclical concepts - the water cycle; the life stages of an insect; the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle.
- Cross-sectional drawings can show what the inside of things look like - the organs of a typical flower; a slice of skin; the working parts of an engine.
- A model of the solar system can show relative sizes of the planets and sun and their distances from the sun and from each other. The sun and planets can be made from clay or paper machÃ© (papier-mÃ¢chÃ©). Wire clothes hangers can be cut, straightened, and attached to a base. The paper machÃ© sun and planets can be affixed to one end of the wire. Math skills can be integrated with science skills for determining the relative sizes at the sun and planets. To help students grasp the idea of the solar system in space, a classroom mobile with sun and planets suspended from the ceiling may be more helpful than a model.
- Dramatizations or puppet shows can depict the life of some of the great scientists such as Pasteur. If a tape recorder is available, record the dramatization for school or community gatherings. Students' drawings can be substituted for the dramatization or puppet show to be used with the tape-recorded dramatization. If a 35 mm camera is available, these drawings can be photographed for a slide set and filed for use in the next school term. Also, the dramatization can simulate a radio broadcast. Have students write the dramatization or puppet show to integrate science experiences with language.
- Dramatizations can simulate the action of local governments such as the village council. Let students role play various governmental officials, as the town mayor, to give more meaning to the duties and responsibilities of these officials. A "little" United Nations can provide experience in governmental actions that take place between nations. officials. A "little" United Nations can provide experience in governmental actions that take place between nations.
- Collections aren't limited to science. Postage stamps of most nations depict past historical or current events. Flags, coins, articles of clothing, cultural artifacts, even letterheads that feature governmental seals or symbols can be used for analysis and interpretation. One teacher in a secondary school made a thermal transparency of the presidential seal and asked students to give their interpretation of each symbol contained in the seal. This discussion was followed by student investigation and study of the historical development of other national symbols.
- Tape-recorded interviews or discussions with national or world leaders can bring immediacy to a current event that might be lost in a three-day-old newspaper report. Such interviews can be taped directly from a radio program.
- Charts can show the method used by governments to collect and disburse taxes. How tax money is spent can be shown with a pie graph.
- Charts can easily be made to depict the various levels of government - federal, municipal, or states, provinces or regions - or to show steps through which a bill passes to become a law. The latter lends itself to dramatization and role playing by students.
- Geographical concepts can be made more concrete by models. A geography teacher in Malaysia and her students converted a back corner of the school grounds into a miniature waterway system. A main stream and several tributaries were dug and lined with a thin layer of concrete to prevent erosion during heavy rains. A few hills, with and without grass, were built, and signs labeling various parts of the system were installed. As students watched the flow of water during and after a rain, such words as tributary, confluence and erosion began to have meaning. The students were then ready to locate geographical features on a map. Many were able to draw relationships between such ideas as rainfall and size of river system.
- When globes are not available, students can make their own. One teacher and her students made a globe, four feet in diameter, of chicken wire and paper machÃ©. Lines such as the equator, as well as continents and nations, were painted on. Math skills in measuring and drawing to scale were integrated with this geography project.
- A field trip to village markets or shops selling foreign wares is a good "opener" for the study of trade or the export-import business. An export-import bulletin board display could be prepared as a summary of the field trip experience. Or, to tie in with mathematics, students could prepare graphs comparing the monetary values of exports and imports relative to their country's economy. The graphs could also be used in oral and written reports about trade - an opportunity to integrate meaningful subject matter with the development of skills in oral and written expression.
- Maps are a "must' for teaching geography. A teacher, concerned that the weekly radio lessons were not getting physical geography concepts across to her students, drew a large wall map on a cement sack with charcoal. Colored chalks could have been used had they been available. Before each radio lesson, she put on the wall map the words and symbols that would be mentioned in the broadcast (as stated in the teacher's manual). These words and symbols were made large enough for students to read from the back of the classroom. Also, using a hectograph, she reproduced an outline map for each student. During the radio lesson, the classroom teacher pointed out on the wall map the various features mentioned by the radio teacher. After the radio broadcast, the students put the information from the wall map on their own maps. By the end of the series of radio lessons, each student had made his own map of the physical features of the country.
All mathematical concepts are abstractions. To understand these abstractions, children need various kinds of concrete experiences. Media are useful not only to establish a concrete base for mathematical thinking, but also to create interest in the practicality of mathematics.
- Real objects such as stones, beads, and coins can be used for counting. They give a concrete base for understanding the one-to-one relationship and for developing concepts of "more than," "less than," and "equal to." Some objects such as fruits and vegetables can be divided to show major fractional parts like halves and fourths. Sticks of varying lengths can be used for measuring and for developing concepts of "longer than" or "shorter than." Objects cut to proper length or selected for their proper weight bring concreteness to systems of measures and weights, such as the metric system. Real objects also provide tactile as well as visual experiences.
- Teacher-made instruments can clarify measuring concepts. One Latin American teacher made several simple, double-pan balances by using a notched stick balanced on the edge of a razor blade, some thread, and a couple of paper cups for each balance. Weights consisted of coins, paper clips, and pins. Ten pins equaled a paper clip, and ten paper clips equaled a coin. By having the children weigh a number of objects, the teacher was able to introduce numerical concepts which established a base for understanding the decimal system. There are numerous opportunities for including measuring experiences in science and social studies activities. When integrated with these activities, the practicality of mathematics can be made more evident to the student.
- Paper-made objects (calendars, play clocks, play money) can be made by the children. Then, each will have his own for seat work on problems Involving time or money exchange concepts. A large paper clock with movable hands can be hung on the classroom wall. Throughout the day, the hands can be placed to indicate the time when certain activities will take place - time for reading, recess, lunch. Pupils can participate by being given the responsibility for setting the hands to show at what time the next activity will take place.
- A walking trip through the village or area surrounding the school to observe geometric shapes in real life can be used as an introduction to geometric forms. The trip can be supplemented by a bulletin board display of pictures of the things observed - buildings, bridges, bicycles. Test the children's recognition of forms by having them label the pictures with the names of the forms illustrated in the pictures. Children can also be asked to look for geometric forms in their classroom.
- A step-by-step flannel board presentation of the derivation of the formula a2 + b2 = c2 can clarify the meaning of this formula.
- String models of geometric forms such as cones and pyramids can be constructed. By projecting a thin beam of light across the model at various angles, sections of these forms can be shown. A projector isn't needed. A slit cut in a piece of cardboard covering a window where the sun comes through can be the source of light.
- Student-built models to scale or maps drawn to scale can provide concrete examples of the meaning of "ratio." Such experiences can be integrated with science and social studies projects.
- A transparency with overlays can show geometrical relationships, for example the relationship between a rectangle and a right-angle triangle or between a parallelogram and an isosceles triangle. Also, the relationship of area of triangle to area of rectangle can be clarified. Other formulas can be explained similarly, for example the formula A=2
Language requires the development of skills in reading, spelling, listening, and writing. To read, the child must associate the spoken word with written or printed symbols. To write, he must develop and refine hand motor skills to reproduce the symbols. To spell, he must hear sounds and be able to distinguish one from another as well as to arrange the symbols for sounds in the correct order. Media are essential not only to the development of language skills, but also to stimulate written and oral expression.
- Pictures of objects can help the child associate words with their printed symbols. Used in a flannel board presentation, children can match words with pictures in a classroom recitation period. The same pictures displayed on a bulletin board along with the word symbol serve as a ready referent during a reading study period. See Basic Production Techniques, Projection Tracing for an easy way to reproduce pictures in magazines and books which can't be cut up. See also Basic Production Techniques, Squaring and Pantograph for enlarging or reducing pictures.
- The tape recording is invaluable for developing listening skills. Students need to hear words, phrases, and sentences pronounced properly by several different speakers. Additionally, they benefit from hearing their own voices and by comparing their pronunciation with that of the speaker. The motivation to learn that seems to accompany hearing one's own voice is often just as important as the improvement in pronunciation. Recorded sounds can be used in sound discrimination drills.
- Tape recordings can be made of stories. By stopping the tape when a sequence of events in a story has ended, children can be stimulated to tell what will happen next. Then, by turning on the tape recording, they can check the accuracy of their responses.
- Tape recordings are also useful to build a background in the literature, poetry, and music of a country. Such recordings can be integrated with social studies when a particular country or nation is being studied.
- Dramatizations and puppet shows are another useful way for children to learn to tell stories. When reading, writing, and spelling skills are sufficiently developed, writing their own puppet show provides for using language skills creatively.
- Flash cards are suitable for many kinds of drill word recognition, word ending usage, words that will complete a sentence. These cards also can be used on a flannel board in various kinds of matching exercises. Keep the student involved. He should be encouraged to participate fully in the lesson by actively manipulating the flash cards or the flannel board pieces.
- "Chalk talks," in which the teacher draws a scene on the chalkboard as she tells a story, also can be used for word symbol recognition and identification. To help children learn to sequence events in a story, they can be encouraged to tell what will happen next in the-story so the teacher can draw in the next scene. See Presentation Methods and Materials, Chalkboards, for information about making stencils to reproduce illustrations in chalkboard drawings.