Materials Development Task 10: Knowledge and the notes

This is a new series of blog posts for teachers looking to become materials writers. It aims to help future writers explore topics and issues in writing, encourage deeper insight into the content of published materials, and promote a principled approach to materials development.


How would you rate your knowledge and skills in the following areas? Give yourself a mark between 1-10 for each category.

1 = Huh?

10 = I’m an expert!

  • Subject/content knowledge – e.g knowledge of grammar, vocab, pronunciation, language skills and strategies, etc.
  • Pedagogical knowledge – e.g. knowledge of teaching approaches, how students learn, etc.
  • Cognitive knowledge – e.g. knowledge of the science of learning; memory models, encoding, storage, retrieval, etc.
  • Technological knowledge – e.g. knowledge of how to best use technology to enhance learning.

Now consider the following:

What is the purpose of a teacher book, beyond checking answers to listening activities?!

What role might the teacher book (accompanying a coursebook) have in a teacher’s professional development?

Which of the knowledge areas mentioned above would you say are often addressed in teacher books (or teacher notes)?

If you could pick one type of knowledge that you think most teachers would benefit from learning more about, which would it be?


The TPACK model from Mishra and Koehler (2006) outlines the type of knowledge needed for effective teaching practice. Three of the knowledge (or application) areas above are mentioned in the model:

Kate Jones has made recent additions (TPACCK) to the model to stress the importance of teachers understanding the science of learning:

As always, context is key; these models have been criticised for being generalist, using incorrect wording, etc. Still, they offer an insight into the challenges new teachers might face when upskilling post-CELTA. Coursebooks and teacher notes may act as a crutch in such instances, as might publisher blogs and websites, which sometimes provide bitesize development articles written by the coursebook writers. You might be contractually obliged to write these (or deliver webinars related to the content you’ve produced).


Look at these two pages from a C1 level General English coursebook for adults.

(c) StartUp Level 8, Pearson
(c) StartUp Level 8, Pearson

Make a table like the one below. Note down the types of applicable knowledge a teacher might need to support them in teaching this coursebook content effectively. You don’t have to have notes in each box for each activity, its just your own thoughts.

For technological knowledge, you might have to make some assumptions here based on your knowledge of digital add-ons for coursebooks. You can choose to analyse a more familiar coursebook if easier.

Activity numberContent knowledge needed…Pedagogical knowledge needed…Technological knowledge needed…

You can add an additional column for cognitive knowledge if you wish or make some general notes on this in relation to the whole spread.


There are two options for this task. Up to you!

Option A – Teacher notes

Write accompanying teacher notes for these coursebook pages. For each stage, think about the level of support teachers might need in relation to each knowledge type. Remember to consider the voice of the notes, and to be concise – too much procedural info might mean teachers skip to the answers only!

Option B – Blog post

Pick one of the knowledge areas you have identified as important to the delivery of a stage in this lesson. Write a 400-500 word article aimed at teachers using the book. The article should inform and explain about a type of knowledge/skill needed for teaching the content, and offer tips to help them in the classroom.

Try and make the focus specific. E.g. for Activity 4B you might choose to write a post like…

  • The benefits of using notetaking tasks for listening comprehension
  • How to support learners with notetaking tasks when listening
  • Notetaking or comprehension questions? Which are better and why?
  • Why advanced students benefit from notetaking tasks
  • Approaching notetaking tasks with… (you get the idea)

Categories: General, materials writing, teacher development

Tags: , , , , ,

1 reply


  1. Review: Retrieval Practice | ELT Planning

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