Ditch That Textbook

Teaching with less reliance on the textbook.

Archive for the tag “textbooks”

The new textbooks are wired — and wireless

The print medium is dying a slow death.

Newspapers are declining in circulation as more and more readers look for their content online.

Libraries are being forced to either adapt to a new digital age with new equipment and programs or become ancient artifacts.

And then there’s the traditional classroom textbook.

No clickable links. No flashy videos. No interactive games.

Paper and ink. And at a high price, no less.

As we continue to move into this new technological world, our jobs as educators must change as well. Our students are much different than the students of decades ago — even a few years ago.

They don’t know a world without computers. The Internet. Digital devices.

They multitask like crazy.

Their media-innundated minds are wired for constant change.

And we can take two approaches. One is to continue teaching the way we always have. Good teaching is good teaching, right? And if we put the information out there and the kids want the grade enough, they can come get it.

Or we can step into their world. Change up our methods, but stick with solid pedagogy. Supplement with a blog. Engage students with a discussion board. Create a multimedia presentation. Use the vast communication ability of the ‘Net to connect to people with viewpoints our students would never see otherwise.

Go from the limited to the vast, unbounded limits of cyberspace.

But how do we do that? One-to-one computer initiative schools have an instant connection to the information superhighway, as do classes with abundant access to computer labs or laptop/iPod Touch/iPad carts.

But it doesn’t have to stop there. Our students carry more powerful computers with them every day than those that launched spacecraft many years ago. Smart phones — even more traditional cell phones — have powerful information gathering, recording and publishing abilities. Even if our schools have “no cells in class” policies, that doesn’t mean we can’t harness that power outside the walls of the school.

The information and options available to us is unlimited. Our tools are powerful and more ubiquitous than ever.

The digital natives are here. Now it’s up to us to reach them where they are.

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Time for a change

I was frustrated.

Green.

Knew something was wrong and didn’t know what to do about it.

I’m teaching from a textbook. That’s what MY teachers did. We did book activities and workbook pages. We read passages from it in class and wrote sentences from it at home.

In my classroom, the students slumped in their desks, cheeks in their hands. They checked the clock. Dashed for the door when the bell rang.

Somewhere in my first few years of teaching high school Spanish in Indiana, I knew that I wasn’t connecting with my students.

It was time for a change.

Unbeknownst to me, that was my first step into the a new realm — the land without textbooks. OK, it wasn’t TOTALLY devoid of textbooks, but it certainly wasn’t dependent on them. Instead of having students open to a certain page of a book to start class, I was giving them study guides of the essential information for the week. Directing them to relevant websites to find pertinent information. Or (*gasp*) having them search out information on their own.

I was directing them to dynamic web apps that helped them do what we had done before and much more, but in a more exciting and powerful platform.

I jumped in with two feet. And, honestly, I never want to come out of the water.

So that’s why I’m here. I’m no expert in education theory, pedagogy, teaching methods of world languages or any subject. But I’ve heard the same gripes from countless teachers that I griped myself.

I have a message in my heart that I’m ready to share. Hope it helps.

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