Thursday, July 30, 2015

#70 Days letting go ... getting started

I feel bummed today.

It is the math textbook adoption year.  Yesterday I went to training for the textbook selected for our math course.  I left disappointed.

I'm not bound to a textbook.  I use it as a reference tool, an extra help for students who are struggling - who need extra practice, and for question sets.

Our previous text was OK, not great, but had a span of materials that was helpful.  There were powerpoint presentations with detailed examples, tutorial videos, interactivities, leveled practice (reteach, practice, challenge), and extra problem solving sets.  While I didn't use those for every chapter, they were there if I needed to reach for materials to help students master concepts.

Our new textbook and the training that came with it has several issues.

  • The textbook has no instructional pages with multiple examples; it doesn't have practice sets.  It is a series of questions, the phrase used, "learning by doing."  Basically it is an extended work-text.
  • It's consumable.  It's bulky, pages will need to be torn out, the paper itself is not sturdy - one or two erasures will bleed through. 
  • The trainer described lesson planning as pulling out the lesson from the book, working the problems before class, determining how much time to allow on question subsets, and making a few notes.  In other words her instructions were to use the book as is for most of the 90 minutes with some class discussion??  She said not to throw out our good activities, to insert them where appropriate, but that's not how she demonstrated lesson planning.  It was disturbing.
  • There are no, NO, ancillary materials purchased.  Yes, we can access the work-text online - download pdfs; we can access other pdfs - assessments, limited practice to support the text.  All paper driven.  There are no prepared presentations, videos, interactivities, technology driven practice.  There is no leveled practice - no challenge for those who need it.  No reteaching pages.  There are no typical extra practice sets.
  • The practice that we can access online - pdfs to download - are designed with space for students to write.  Meaning one practice set could potentially require 4, 6, 8 pages to copy per student.  They are not editable - or at least I haven't found a way to do so easily yet besides copy/paste each problem. It's a very heavy paper-driven program.
So how did this happen, why this book?  As is the case in most districts there is a textbook committee.  A group of teachers reviewed several published books and voted on this one.  I would love to hear from that committee about why this book over the others - I am curious what caused this book to be the "best" of the choices.  (Other high school math courses went with other publishers!)

I think my biggest disappointment is that a book has been chosen with NO technology associated with it.  So for 8 more years we are bound to paper, or must adapt other technology apps to fit our curriculum.

So today, I feel bummed.  I set my hopes too high on having a technology supportive resource to help students who need it ... or as a support to me as I plan lessons.

Today, I am challenging myself to let go of this disappointment and just get to work creating engaging lessons.  There is plenty online to adapt to our needs.  In my classroom we are not going to write in a work-text as our primary mode of learning!


  1. I am so sorry. The middle school textbooks aren't that great either, but there are online videos for the students to reference to help them out. And a lot of the online worksheets can be downloaded in Word so that they are editable. I think the textbook companies are just WAY behind on the times...

    1. It's crazy ... but fortunately we don't HAVE to have a book to teach math! This book does have some good questions ... especially for scaffolded learning and the assessment package is decent. Time to move on and have fun with creating our own lessons :)