I have recently been re-inspired to make resources by the Times Educational Supplement offering £1000 to the five resource contributors that generate the most interest (OK, I am not quite sure how they are going to decide who gets the prizes, but I believe that quality and quantity are involved).
I have re-written key stage 3 resources four times in 9 years and I am on my fourth or fifth re-write of key stage 4, thanks to moving schools and changing exam boards twice on top of the specification changes in 2006 and 2011. I find it gets tedious. I would rather add to and adapt than be forced to change everything to the new subtleties of a different exam specification.
And I have found it necessary to change: "Miss, how do you answer question 3?" "Oh, that's right... Class you can either listen to me explain question 3 or leave it out as you don't need to know about isotopes in this part of the specification." I subscribe to the idea "teach some of it well, rather than all of it badly", so I am keen to teach extra content just so they can do a worksheet I made/acquired several years before.
So what does make a quality resource?
The presentation: published resources always look better than home made ones. I put this down to the graphics around the titles, the footers at the bottom of the page completing the work so the content "ends", the spacing between lines of text and blocks of text, and the quality and alignment of the images used. Published resources all seem to fit to a layout that pulls all the scheme together and makes them seem polished.
It is possible to copy the themes of published schemes to make your own work look good. Choosing a sans serif font and using 1.3 line spacing helps. So far mine still look more "high street" equivalent to the "designer", but better than most!
Ease of understanding: too many of the in-house resources I have come across are not sensitive to the literacy levels of students in the target age group. How much text will a student engage with? (Usually not much.) How many key words should be used? I find many badly phrased questions in resources, and unfortunately published revision guides with questions can be amongst the worst offenders.
Adaptability of the resource: a key feature in my opinion. Is it possible for the resource to be used in a variety of ways by teachers with different styles? Often PowerPoint Presentations found in shared drives on school servers are tailored to the class of the teacher who wrote it. This is fair enough, we should personalise our lessons to the needs of groups, but is the personalised version the right place to start and share?
Meeting the learning objectives: most importantly does the resource support the learning of the students? Does it make them think? Does the resource fill time or move on the understanding of the learner? Does the resource support the self-assessment of students? What is its purpose, and it is evident looking at the resource?
I am probably most fussy about how a resource looks. Mainly because I believe this is the most difficult to get right. Not every teacher has an eye for what is aesthetically pleasing. (Deleting the bullet point from a PowerPoint and removing the indent from the first line in the paragraph, yet leaving the indent in the other lines bugs me).
Despite finding re-writing tedious and frustrating and finding the urge to moan about OfQual and others, I know that I would rather rely on the resources I make. So I return to my PowerBook and put together GCSE lesson plans and resources to support the development of how science works skills (newly emphasised) through the context of speed, acceleration and forces. While also hoping to create activities and worksheets that will help students pass exams too.
The £1000? That would be a fantastic bonus, if and when I get round to sharing them via the TES.
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