Developing a Professional Library and a Resource Centre for Teachers of Mathematics
This article is a follow-up to the article “Should the Teaching of Mathematics in Secondary Schools be Resource Based?” it will detail my experience in setting up such a centre in the secondary school where I was head of the Mathematics department.
I was appointed at a time in Queensland (mid 1980s) where the mathematics syllabus for years one to ten was being reviewed by the Education Department to meet the needs of all students and reflect the changes in the field of Mathematics.
Several years later, an even more radical review was made the Mathematics syllabuses in years 11 and 12.
As a result of these changes, it was obvious that we needed to expand our teaching pedagogue. This meant we needed to acquire teaching aides to assist in our using a variety of pedagogue.
For me as department head, I needed to develop a list of resources we needed and find a room in which to store them and a procedure to use them.
My first task was to develop a professional library for my teaching staff. In consultation with the school librarian, I arranged for all the professional reading texts on mathematics teaching to be “borrowed” by my department and placed in our resource room. Each year, I budgeted to add to those books.
I would purchase books on all the new syllabus topics, problem solving, text books from other states, new texts written for the new syllabuses and I would scour second hand book shops looking for old texts.
The next task was to review the syllabus to be introduced in the following year to assess the resources we needed to implement particularly the new topics E. g. Earth Geometry. The new syllabus was introduced a year at time. I would need to put the name those resources in the development section of my budget. I would need to take into account the student numbers to decide on what amount of resources I would need. Initially, I would purchase one class set to investigate its usefulness before purchasing more in the future if those resources proved useful.
Below is a short list of resources that I had in the resource centre. It is not exhaustive. They include: sets of old textbooks to use for specific topics; maps and charts; metre rulers; sextants; tape measures; dice; counters; trundle wheels; graph and coloured paper, light cardboard; four operations calculators; graphics and scientific calculators*; laptops*; line papers for assessment; videos; films; and the list could go on. Copy of all our computer software was also store securely here.
Each year, our school entered various Mathematics contests. The contest booklet were collected and stored for classroom use in the future.
Past copies of assessment items were stored as a resource for teachers to use to create revision test and as a guide to the standard of testing required in each year level.
We were lucky to have our own teacher aide allocated to our department. She oversaw the resource room and this was her base. I made sure that she had the best computer, printer and software available to her. She would oversee the borrowing of resources and organise resources ready for collection for the relevant teaching period on a written request.
As part of the resource push, each teacher was given a tote box for their day to day needs in the classroom. Each year they were allocated an amount of money to spend on the resources they wanted. I would purchase these resources in bulk. Each year the teacher could add to their tote box.
Some final comments:
- Ensure that the resources available for a particular topic are stated in the work program with suggestions on how to use them.
- Always evaluate the initial use of a resource before you purchase more.
- Encourage your staff to share the successful ideas they used involving particular resources.
- Encourage your staff to make suggestions for additional resources.
- Don’t purchase resources where small items, if lost or stolen, prevent the future use of that resource.
- Stocktake each year so you can discover what resources needs to be replaced or expanded.
- With computer software, always test its usefulness in the classroom before purchasing a licence for many computers as these programs can be expensive. There may be ways to purchase software through your local education authority to cut costs.
- Easy to use simple computer software is often more effective in a classroom situation than the more sophisticated programs.