The textbook will not be our magic bullet

Posted on Oct 22, 2014 by Alicia Levitt - Best Practices

I have the pleasure of meeting monthly with a smart and insightful group of math teachers from The Lutheran Schools. We have several objectives, but one outcome from this group will be to provide as much guidance as we can on the selection of new math curriculum, which has historically translated into the purchase of new textbooks. Yet, as we analyze the new Indiana math standards and discuss our own observations, we find ourselves in a challenging position. We've come to realize that no textbook will meet all of the needs we have.Now, this idea isn't new, and if you ask the average teacher, he or she will tell you they supplement the book all the time to fill in gaps, and that's true. However, most teachers also tend to use a book to determine the content and pace the timing of curriculum delivery. But what happens when the book doesn't really match the standards? Or what if the book does address a standard, but not in the depth or detail that's necessary for mastery? And some books contain more information than is needed, or unnecessarily repetitive content. And we still have the dilemma that textbooks are primarily about content delivery instead of process understanding. Here is a screenshot of a recent Indiana Department of Education video that clearly explains the four components.Textbooks don't teach our kids how to read, write, and think. Teachers do that. And teachers today are required to use engaging instructional strategies to help students stay interested in the tasks at hand. So that brings us back to our dilemma of helping schools select support materials that help them address all of the above concepts. We don't have any answers yet, but we're searching and learning together--much like what we hope our own students are doing in our classrooms. Keep us in your prayers as we move forward.