Some of the most commonly used teaching tools are video or audio based, and some teaching tools are course-specific. Classes devoted to history or social studies commonly use maps and globes, while science instruction may require specific labs. Teaching mathematics usually requires utilizing tools for measurement and graphing. Many classrooms have computers for both the instructors and students.
Books are probably the most widely used of all the various teaching tools. In many classrooms, teachers instruct from a specific book, giving each student a classroom version of the same book. The teacher’s edition usually includes study plans and tests that have been designed to enhance the learning experience. In public schools, student books are usually free and must be turned in at the end of the term, but in private schools, students are often required to purchase their own books.
Audio aids are also common teaching tools, and could include the use of a classroom stereo system or individual headsets. In classes devoted to the study of foreign languages, teachers often use recordings to demonstrate how the languages are spoken. Audio is also a common tool in music classes. Teachers use recordings to teach the students songs and how to play specific instruments. Audio is also used as a recreational activity, especially in classrooms consisting of younger students.
Video-based teaching tools can have a great impact on classroom learning. Teachers use instructional video to demonstrate actual methodology, and documentary style video is commonly used to enhance specific subject matter. Documentary video is especially common in classes teaching history, science, and social studies. Adding video to the classroom usually requires using digital video players, screens, and projectors.
Classes in mathematics typically use a variety of teaching tools. Depending on grade level, both students and teachers typically use measuring devices and visual aids such as graphs and charts. In some mathematics classes, calculator use may be part of the program. For younger students studying math, teachers may use small items such as stones or coins to help the children visually experience the results of computation.
Computers are an integral part of most classrooms, whether used only by the teacher or accessible to the entire classroom. Software programs are available that help teach almost any subject, and these programs are utilized by most school systems. Some schools issue computers rather than textbooks. The computers are usually personal laptops, and the students receive them with all of the required reading material having been pre-loaded onto the hard drives. During the school year, the student is responsible for the computer, and must turn it in at the end of the term.
Some common course-specific teaching tools include chemistry labs and dissection kits for science, as well as models that illustrate anatomy. Planetary studies may also require the use of models that represent the Earth and its relationship to other planets and galaxies. Geography is often taught with the use of globes and maps. Teachers also use social experiments and classroom games in teaching courses that focus on human relationships and sociology.