As a tutor and substitute teacher, I have often wondered what happened to textbooks? Parents ask me as a tutor, how they are supposed to help their children with homework at home. I logically tell them to look in the textbook. But the response I have been getting lately is "There is no textbook."
"Why have we gotten rid of textbooks?"
That leads me to ask the question, "Why have we gotten rid of textbooks?" and "Should we get rid of textbooks?" I am sure that there is logical reasons for not having a textbook in some courses, such as the material is outdated as soon as it is printed like in science and history textbooks. Ok I can understand that and with the internet you can find lots of information out there to teach from. But math really shouldn't change and neither should reading, should it?
Colleges still refer to textbooks a lot and therefore students need to be prepared to interact with the text book if they want to succeed in college.
Curriculum is like a home cooked meal
I like to compare curriculum to a meal. There are different parts to the meal just like there are different parts to the curriculum that is used in schools. I like to think that the textbook is considered the meat and potatoes part of the meal.
Old Curriculums like a TV dinner ( almost everything's included)
Think of it this way: the old basal readers that teachers used in my schools had everything in it such as phonics, spelling, comprehension, grammar, writing, and speaking. Some of the basals even had science, math, and social studies centers to go along with the theme of the week or unit of the month. Having a well rounded curriculum teaches how the subjects and skills correlate with each other.
Each basal had a logical sequential way of presenting the information. There really wasn't a lot of thinking you had to put into it. This is great for brand new teachers who haven't the time to create their bag of tricks to use in the classroom. While it is a guide to keep a veteran teacher on track as they fill in with other activities that may work better than suggested.
I did a long term substitute job for 8 weeks. During this time, we the school changed curriculums from a discovery learning type of curriculum to a more explicit type of curriculum. It was interesting watching the students make the change. Those students who were struggling with reading, now had a basal to look at that was in their desk. Instead of wasting their time "looking" at books while goofing off, were now reading several stories in a row in their basal. Those students struggling in math were understanding the curriculum and enjoying what we were doing.
This is the same with the math the math books as well that I have worked with. One math book that I have worked with as a substitute is Progress in Mathematics. This text uses detailed steps on how to complete each skill including prerequisite information (information that you must know prior to completing the skill) and mistakes that the students will make while giving hints on how to avoid this. It is aligned with the core and gives several review stops along the way to ensure mastery of each skill.
Back to the meal
Now, like I said, this is the meat and potatoes part of the meal. There are also the vegetable, fruit, milk, and dessert part of the meal which is added to the main part. Teaching is no different. Teachers present additional parts to the curriculum to supplement the main part or text book. This can be extra information that they have researched since it wasn't in the textbook, enrichment activities to support struggling or advanced learners, games, technology, etc.
I have seen in some classrooms that use Edmodo where a teacher has scanned in a page from a book or workbook and then all the students are to access this sheet and complete the work. Then the student submits their answers to Edmodo for the teacher to check. This is supposed to cut down on the amount of paper that is used. It is also a good way for junior high and high school classrooms to deal with a substitute that might not be qualified to answer questions in the subject I.E. elementary teacher in a advanced trigonometry classroom.
I have also been in multiage classrooms where there is 2-3 grade levels of students in one classroom. These classrooms usually teach the same science or social studies topics to the whole class but math and language arts are separated according to ability levels. This type of classroom usually doesn't use textbooks.
In this type of classroom, the teacher has flexible small groups divided based on test scores of reading or math level determined by the pretest of each unit. The teacher than meets with each group several times a week to teach guided mini lessons of needed skills and assigns several problems for students to complete independently and discuss later. The teacher also has to keep perfect records based on how/when students master skills. These checklists uses the state standards as a base for what to teach and when to teach each skill.
Other classrooms of today
Other classrooms that I have been in, still have textbooks but are not taken out of the classroom often. They are used as a resource but not something assigned to each student to keep track of and care of.
So my question to you is "If we are phasing out textbooks, how are parents supposed to help their child with homework without a guide?"
My name is Stena Schmitt.
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