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Calling a Truce With Your Textbook
posted by: Jill | May 18, 2011, 03:12 PM   

I may get virtual rotten tomatoes thrown at me by some of you, but I liked the textbook that was issued for my 7th grade classes.  (Dodging an overripe red projectile.)

It wasn't perfect, but it contained solid content, numerous resources for all learning levels, lesson and strategy suggestions, and questions that addressed different learning readiness levels.  The California content standards were always referenced and it integrated test preparation rather well (okay, I helped that one along).  Ray Bradbury short stories, Twilight Zone plays, Pablo Neruda poetry, and a Gary Soto tweenager tale to kick off the year titled "Seventh Grade"  (It's still one of my favorites).

I know that this isn't the case with everyone though—some of you would prefer to use it for your weights class at the gym.  And even with a good textbook, many lessons just don't apply to what our students need.

For those times when the $87.50 textbook doesn't cut it, I suggest a blog post that was shared with me this past weekend.  It offers resources for improving a textbook that is less than desirable or that needs to be tailored to meet your classes' needs.  Language teacher Larry Ferlazzo created a post titled: "The Best Resources For Adapting Your Textbook So it Doesn't Bore Students to Death."

"The ability to adapt common classroom materials such as commercial textbooks is an essential for teaching in a diverse, inclusive classroom" writes Paula Kluth on her website about adapting textbooks to meet students' needs.  I would argue that  Ms. Kluth’s statement  is one mark of a professional educator’s ability to teach effectively.  Her list of ten tips takes a textbook and draws from it beneficial strategies to get the most out of the text as possible.

As you sit down this week to plan lessons for next week, go beyond the textbook (which many of us already do) and see how Mr. Ferlazzo's suggested links or Ms. Kluth's tips can assist in addressing your students' needs more effectively.

Note: The role of a teacher in the creation and planning of curriculum will change as technology for student use becomes more common in the classroom.  Students will have individualized curriculum playlists created by programs that differentiate according to student learning profiles such as academic, interest, and readiness levels. Teachers will have a heavy planning burden lifted from them, but the data necessary to assist a student achieve his/her learning goals will be readily available.  See Clayton Christensen’s book Disrupting Class.

What resources do you use to enhance your textbook for improved student learning?

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