It is not by accident that the topics in this unit are grouped
together; the title could well be 'Support for Classroom Teaching',
for libraries, media and low cost teaching aids are all ways
of enhancing the learning environment in school. In this unit
you will consider why each should be given priority if you wish
to improve the quality of learning by the pupils in your school.
Individual study time: 4 hours
Importance of library, media and low cost teaching aids and
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
be more aware of the ways in which a school library,
the media and low cost teaching aids can enhance the learning
promote the use of school library facilities and develop
good reading habits amongst the pupils
encourage teachers to produce low cost teaching aids,
and see that they have the means to do so
develop the skills in teachers of identifying, and
taking advantage of, usable teaching resources in and from
the local environment
explore ways of expanding and improving library resources
appreciate the need to involve the community in school
(1) Explain why a school library, media and low cost teaching
aids are important for enhancing the quality of teaching and
learning in schools.
(2) Identify some of the constraints you face in providing them
in your school.
In the narrowest sense a school library offers children an
additional choice of reading material with a variety of reading
levels and topics; in the broader context, through instructed
and controlled use of the library, they are encouraged to
develop lifelong reading habits and skills which will support
their own self-development.
A library is mainly a collection of books but can also include
non-book materials such as video and audio cassettes, magazines,
display and resource material.
A school library does not have to be a purpose built building;
it can consist of an adapted classroom or series of boxes
containing books kept by different classroom teachers. The
main purpose is that pupils have access to books and related
materials which will encourage individual reading, advance
knowledge and stimulate the imagination.
This is a popular term for mass communication involving the
press, radio and television. This unit does not deal with
the structured and planned use of the media for education
in the sense of school radio broadcasts, television programmes
or professional journals, but rather covers the use of the
media as a resource for school based or individual initiatives.
Low cost teaching aids
Low cost teaching aids are attractive if there is little or
no cost and they aid the teacher. Later in this unit we will
consider such questions as: What are they? Are they a substitute
for higher cost, professionally made and commercially sold
teaching aids? Can a home-made teaching aid be superior to
the commercial article, and if so, in what ways? We need to
remember that a teaching aid is the use of any object, manufactured,
homemade or natural, which is used to promote good teaching.
Some of the reasons why these resources should be given priority
include the following:
1 A head and the teachers should be creative and should not
become over dependent on outside resources.
2 Through the use of resources, lifelong pupil attitudes,
skills and responsibilities in terms of creativity, innovation
and self-reliance can be developed.
3 Teaching/learning can become more positive, interesting,
varied, and therefore more effective, through the frequent
and selective use of resources.
4 Cost is always a factor in education, but it does not always
have to be the factor which determines the quality of teaching.
Some of the constraints which hinder the provision and uses
of resources include the following:
1 Financial provision is usually too low to buy sufficient
library books initially, or on a regular basis.
2 Teachers may lack training, creativity and work capacity
and may therefore be unable to explore, experiment with, develop
and use low cost teaching aids.
3 The media, in a usable form, sometimes do not reach the
locality of the school.
4 There may be limitations in the provision of space and storage
The school library has a significant role to play in the education
of the pupil as a result of the emergence of multi-media education
and resource based learning. Pupil-centred education takes
into account an individual's interests and abilities and facilitates
much greater participation, allowing the pupil to progress
at his or her own pace. The library should be a centre for
active learning not simply a repository of books and resource
materials. It may also be seen as a centre for the production
and storage of materials including low cost teaching aids.
The following three statements are non-controversial and
may be accepted by everyone:
1 A school library is for pupil use, during and after the
school day, to encourage an enjoyment of reading and to supplement
specific subject areas being taught in the curriculum.
2 Pupils have to be trained in the use of the library.
3 Pupils have to be trained in the care and use of books and
other reading materials.
The checklist in Fig 8 gives twelve areas which test the extent
to which you put into practice your belief in the above statements.
Taking into account the twelve areas covered above, do you
have up-to-date rules for library usage and guidelines for
Your answers to these twelve sets of questions will demonstrate
the extent to which you have been able to develop a positive
management strategy towards the provision, organisation and
operation of your school library. Sometimes libraries appear
rather isolated from the mainstream of learning in classrooms,
and neglected by the school head as an area over which he
or she has active authority. Your answers should provide you
with ideas about what could be done to improve the library
provision in your school.
The library in the classroom
Many primary schools have no library room; instead each
teacher builds his or her own library in boxes in the classroom.
Ideally such boxes should contain 40 to 60 books carefully
selected for language and content, and with 40 pupils it is
necessary for the teacher to keep a careful record of books
issued and books read.
(1) Design a book issue/return record sheet which could be used
with a class library.
(2) Suggest three ways in which it would be possible for a teacher
to check whether a pupil has read a book or not.
(3) A problem with book boxes is that pupils have access to
only a small number of books which limits the choice of abler
pupils. How would you suggest this problem could be overcome?
Benefits for pupils
A simple form should be kept with each book with the library
box, so that the name of each pupil may be recorded. It is
important to check all the time how much and how well the
pupils are reading. This can be done by spending time with
them as they read, by asking them questions about a book when
they have finished it and by asking them to write something
about the contents (about the story if the book is a novel).
The books should be graded using a simple colour code, perhaps
with three colours to indicate levels of language and content,
and this will enable both the more able and less able pupils
to choose books they can manage.
Fill in the blank boxes in Fig 9 with appropriate benefits for
pupils using the school library.
Fig 9 Benefits of school libraries
Which did you include:
appreciation of the value of books
Expanding a school's library service
Most school libraries have a limited stock. Heads of schools
continually face the problem of renewal, updating and replacement
with very little money provided for this purpose, and they
will need to seek other ways of expanding their library service.
Here is a list of suggestions:
1 Contact nearby schools to set up a book exchange service.
2 Ask for assistance from the National Library Service.
3 Assign the task to the PTA.
4 Seek help from the Old Students' Association.
5 Seek donor assistance (see Unit 8: 'Finding Financial Resources').
Give the advantages and disadvantages of each of the above suggestions.
Is a bad book better than no book?
Supporting the school library as an active centre of learning
is something which may well interest individuals and groups
outside the school. Launching an appeal for funds by the school
will bring to their attention an area where they can help.
They should be encouraged to supply funds, rather than books,
since it is very unlikely they will know your needs. Bad books
are no better than no books. If every school looked to donor
agencies or national bodies for help they would be overwhelmed,
however, there is no harm in asking. On the other hand your
most reliable source of funds is likely to be from those who
are closer to your school.
(1) Of the two parents which is the better model for their child
Parent A is forever encouraging his child to read and improve
her academic performance at school but is never seen to be
reading anything himself.
Parent B visits the school library on occasions to browse
through magazines and newspapers, and periodically checks
out a book to read at home.
(2) How can parents provide a good model for their children
(3) How can you and your staff help parents to help their children?
Characteristics of a good library
It has been noted that successful pupils more often come from
homes where there are books to read and where the parents
demonstrate their own interest in the written word. The more
adults, including parents, teachers and school heads, can
provide role models the more children will be encouraged to
The quality of a school can be quite easily measured in a number
of different ways. One such Performance Indicator is the rate
at which the pupils borrow books. Identify five other key indicators.
The borrowing rate per pupil is perhaps the best indicator
of the quality of a school library, but there are many others.
The expenditure per pupil per year gives a clear guide as
to how well the library is being maintained and developed.
The number of books per pupil is another good indicator, though
if old and out-of-date books are not weeded out then the rate
may be inflated. The rate of accession of new books and of
weeding out old stock will provide an indication of the way
the collection is being maintained. Old stock should be given
away, not destroyed. Security is often a problem in schools
and so the loss rate provides a quality indicator, though
this can only be done if a full stock-taking exercise is regularly
carried out. Two other indicators are the length of time the
library is open each week and the seating capacity to allow
individual study in the library.
Media and low cost teaching aids
Through newspapers, magazines and journals pupils are kept
fully informed on national and international current events.
The library should stock a selection of daily, weekly and
(1) What criteria do you use for the selection of newspapers,
magazines and journals?
(2) How do you ensure that a cross-section of political viewpoints
(3) How do you teach your pupils to differentiate between fact
(4) Can you demonstrate how well you are able to obtain free
materials which are available from national and international
agencies, and from the private sector?
(5) How do you use these materials once they are no longer needed
in the library?
In most countries there is quite a wide range of newspapers,
magazines and journals freely available or to purchase. It
is important to ensure a careful selection, and factors such
as cost, regular availability, and appropriateness of the
contents to the learning needs of your pupils, need to be
considered. Materials of these types are often promoting particular
political viewpoints, and so it is important to ensure that
a cross-section of views are represented, and that you provide
opportunities, for example, in Social Studies, language teaching
or History, to teach pupils how to separate out fact from
opinion and to select what they read. Library materials should
be actively and positively used by both pupils and teachers.
In using material of this nature in the classroom pupils are
made aware of the value of such sources in forming or influencing
opinion and conveying up-to-date information and adding to
knowledge acquired through textbooks.
Some embassies, agencies (such as Unesco, UNDP), banks and
commercial organisations distribute newsletters and information
sheets at no cost; posters and calendars can be obtained from
publishers, school suppliers and other companies. Schools
should take advantage of these offers - if only to use the
illustrations, update data and for display purposes.
Certain broadcasts can be of value, for example, speeches
on historic occasions, budget speeches, radio plays and debates
on environmental matters. By taping such broadcasts, editing
them for classroom usage, and inserting them at the appropriate
point in the curriculum, a valuable resource can be built
up for the school. The art teacher can use magazine pictures
for collages and newspaper for papier mch work.
The teacher of English can use 'headlines', serious articles
and crossword puzzles.
Production of teaching aids
Low cost teaching aids are attractive to all heads who run
their schools on a small budget. Obviously cost is no longer
a factor and the teachers are using teaching aids other than
the chalkboard. Very often in fact there is no cost at all
in that many teaching aids can be made from scrap items such
as empty matchboxes, cardboard cylinder interiors of toilet
rolls, rubber bands, pieces of wire and the reverse sides
of discarded posters.
Suggest what low cost or no cost teaching aids your teachers
should be using in their classrooms, whether at primary or secondary
level, in the following subjects:
- Art and Craft;
- Design and Technology;
In the widest possible sense the entire local environment
can be regarded as the principal source area for such teaching
aids, not just in the search for usable materials, but in
locating and identifying local seasonal phenomena which may
reinforce concepts taught in the classroom. For instance,
after a heavy rainstorm ground with no vegetation cover shows
many examples of drainage features to be found in river systems,
as well as erosion mechanisms and patterns. A Geography/Social
Studies teacher can take advantage of this phenomenon by taking
groups of pupils to observe, record and reason.
Give further instances of how the local environment of a school
can be used positively in:
(1) A rural setting (for example, collecting seeds for a lesson).
(2) An urban setting (for example, collecting cans for re-cycling).
The extent to which low cost or no cost teaching aids are
used in a school is indicative of the commitment and quality
of the teachers. You may readily identify creative teachers,
who are prepared to take extra trouble for the sake of their
pupils. Obviously teachers of this calibre are valuable in
In the school context the word 'library' can have a number
of meanings, all of which should be applied to enrich the
teaching and learning in the school. The school head should
involve the local community in library development and usage
as well as encouraging teachers to take advantage of the local
environment as a source of low cost teaching aids.