TLM: Teaching/Learning Materials

Mother teaching her children
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In the field of education, TLM is a commonly used acronym that stands for "teaching/learning materials." Broadly, the term refers to a spectrum of educational materials that teachers use in the classroom to support specific learning objectives, as set out in lesson plans. These can be games, videos, flashcards, project supplies, and more.

Classroom teaching that uses only a teacher lecturing the class, perhaps writing on the chalkboard or whiteboard, is the classic example of not using any TLM. Using TLM can greatly assist students in the learning process.

Examples of Teaching/Learning Materials

Activity-based learning employs a variety of teaching/learning materials and focuses on student interaction to learn new concepts. Context-specific learning materials enhance the process.

Story Books

Story books make great teaching-learning materials. For example, a middle school teacher can use a book like "The Hatchet" by Gary Paulson, a gripping story of a boy, 13, who finds himself alone in a desolate wooded area in Canada, with only a hatchet (a gift from his mother) and his wits to help him survive. A teacher can read this book to the class as a whole, then have students write a brief essay summarizing the book and explaining what they thought of the story. And at the elementary school level, book reports provide a great way to have students engage with the books they read, either individually or together with the class.


Manipulatives are physical items such as gummy bears, blocks, marbles, or even small cookies, that assist student learning. Manipulatives are especially helpful in the younger primary grades, where students can use them to help solve subtraction and addition problems.

Samples of Student Writing

Having students write can be an effective teaching method. But students often have difficulty thinking of topics. That's where student writing prompts can be useful. Writing prompts are brief partial sentences designed to help spark student writing, such as "The person I admire the most is... " or "My biggest goal in life is..." Just be sure to give students the parameters of the assignment, such as a single paragraph for younger pupils or a full, multi-page essay for older students.


In the current digital age, there are plenty of websites that offer free educational videos for kids. Videos provide real, visual images that can help enliven learning, but you need to be careful to choose videos that have real educational value. Websites that offer free learning videos include the Khan Academy, which offers videos on basic and advanced math, English grammar and literature, science, and even SAT preparation.


Games can be useful in teaching students everything from money and grammar to social skills. Sight words bingo, for example, can help students learn their basic sight words, but there are also relatively inexpensive bingo games that teach money skills, Spanish, telling time, and even English grammar. More active, outside games such as basketball or kickball can help students learn social skills, such as taking turns, sharing, working as a team, and being a good loser or gracious winner.


Even in this age of computers and internet-based learning materials, flashcards can be particularly useful for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Printing high-frequency words, also known as sight words, on the front of flashcards with short definitions on the back can create a good learning tool for students who have auditory or visual learning styles.

Model Clay

Younger students, such as those in kindergarten through third grade, can learn using model clay. For example, a teacher might have young students make letters of the alphabet using clay. But you can also use clay to teach concepts to older students. Teachers have been known to use model clay to teach plate tectonics, the theory of how the Earth's surface behaves.

Overhead Projector Transparencies

In this modern age, don't forget about the value of old-fashioned overhead transparencies. A teacher can use overhead projector transparencies to teach counting skills, such as for numbers up to 100, and visually demonstrate how charts and graphs work. Better even than a whiteboard or blackboard, transparencies allow you or students to write numbers, create problems, circle, and highlight features and easily wipe away markings with a paper towel or tissue.

Computer Software and Apps

Plenty of learning computer software is available online. Interactive software programs can help English language learners study grammar and other elements of the English language. And apps, such as for tablet computers and even smartphones, offer instruction in everything from foreign languages to information on the Common Core Standards as well as university-level lectures and lessons for students—many of the apps are free.

Visual Aids

Visual aids can be teaching tools designed for the entire classroom, such as posters showing basic site words, class rules, or key concepts about important holidays or lessons. But they can also be used the help students individually, particularly visual learners or those having difficulty organizing their work or their thoughts. Graphic organizers, for example, are charts and tools used to visually represent and organize a student's knowledge or ideas. Graphic organizers can help students learn math and they are good tools for teaching special education students and English language learners.

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Your Citation
Lewis, Beth. "TLM: Teaching/Learning Materials." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Lewis, Beth. (2020, August 27). TLM: Teaching/Learning Materials. Retrieved from Lewis, Beth. "TLM: Teaching/Learning Materials." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).