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Developing a Professional Library and a Resource Centre for Teachers of Mathematics
This article is a follow-up to the article “Should teaching mathematics in secondary schools be resource-based?” he will detail my experience in setting up such a center in high school where I was head of the math department.
I was appointed at a time in Queensland (mid 1980s) when the mathematics curriculum for Years One to Ten was being revised by the Department of Education to meet the needs of all pupils and to reflect changes in the field of mathematics.
Several years later, an even more radical revision was made to the mathematics curricula in Years 11 and 12.
As a result of these changes, it was obvious that we needed to broaden our teaching pedagogy. This meant that we had to acquire teaching aids to help us use a variety of pedagogues.
For me, as a department head, I needed to develop a list of resources we needed and find a room to store them in 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 professional reading materials on teaching mathematics to be “borrowed” by my department and placed in our resource room. Each year I planned to add to these books.
I bought books on all new curriculum topics, problem solving, textbooks from other states, new scripts written for new curricula, and scoured second-hand bookstores for old scripts.
The next task was to review the curriculum to be introduced the following year to assess the resources we needed to implement especially the new subjects, for example. Earth geometry. The new program was introduced one year at a time. I should put the names of these resources in the development section of my budget. I should consider the number of students when deciding how much resources I would need. I would initially buy a set of classes to study its usefulness before buying more in the future if these resources prove useful.
Below is a short list of resources I had at the resource center. It is not exhaustive. They include: sets of old textbooks to use for specific subjects; maps and charts; meter rules; sextants; measuring tapes; of; counters; pull-out wheels; graph and colored paper, lightweight cardboard; four operations calculators; graphing and scientific calculators*; laptop* ; online documents for evaluation; videos; movies; and the list could go on. A copy of all our computer software has also been stored securely here.
Every year, our school took part in various mathematics competitions. The contest booklet has been collected and stored for future use in the classroom.
Past copies of the assessment items have been stored as a resource teachers can use to create a review test and as a guide to the test standard required at each level.
We were fortunate to have our own teaching assistant assigned to our department. She oversaw the resource room and that was her base. I made sure she had the best computer, printer, and software available to her. She would oversee the borrowing of resources and organize resources ready to be collected for the relevant teaching period upon written request.
As part of the resource push, each teacher received a tote box for their daily classroom needs. Each year they were given a sum of money to spend on whatever resources they wanted. I would buy these resources in bulk. Each year the teacher could add to their tote box.
A few final comments:
Make sure the resources available for a particular topic are listed in the work plan with suggestions on how to use them.
Always evaluate the initial use of a resource before buying more.
Encourage your staff to share successful ideas they have used involving particular resources.
Encourage your staff to make suggestions for additional resources.
Do not purchase resources where small items, if lost or stolen, prevent future use of that resource.
Take an inventory each year to find out which resources need to be replaced or expanded.
With computer software, always test its usefulness in the classroom before purchasing a license for multiple computers as these programs can be expensive. There may be ways to purchase software from your local school authority to reduce costs.
Simple, easy-to-use computer software is often more effective in a classroom situation than more sophisticated programs.
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