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Posts tagged with "textbooks"

Sep 7

To Kill a Textbook

Okay, so it is close to an ad, but the points it makes are pretty good. Etexts are the future. Period.

Aug 8

My school district is making the move to digital textbooks, starting with high School science classes this year. Here is a little video that a local news channel did on it.

Bye Bye Textbooks

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics The Bye-Bye Textbooks! How Digital Devices Are Reshaping Education Infographic reveals shocking information about how digital devices have changed the traditional education landscape. As students become more dependent on technology, will the textbook become a thing of past? 38% of students say they cannot go more than 10 minutes without checking in with their laptop, smartphone, tablet or e-reader. 85% of students say that technology saves them time when studying. The average time saved is 2 hours per day, that’s 30 days per year! 48% of students who own digital devices say they frequently use eTEXTBOOKS. 63% say they have used an eTEXTBOOK at least once. Of the 91% of students who said they failed to complete required reading before classes, about half (46%) reported they would be more likely to complete their reading if it was in a digital format. Via: www.schools.com

Kepler 10C and the need for Digital Textbooks

We are starting to do something interesting in our school district: Create our own digital textbooks. (More on that process later!) I thought I would share something that we used to highlight the need to a digital text, one that can be upgraded at a moment’s notice over the “traditional” textbooks that we have all grown to love but have grown stale over the course of years.

When we were explaining to a group the need for digital texts, we had them take out their cell phones and look up information about Kepler 10C. Go ahead, you can do it right now.

We then asked these questions:

When was the news about Kepler 10C’s size announced?

If you had a traditional textbook, what would be the chances of there being any kind of mention of something like Kepler 10 C in it?

If you wanted your students to know about Kepler 10C and that information was not in a textbook, where would you send them to find it?

How long would it take for a textbook company to catch up with information like Kepler 10C and get that info INTO a textbook?

The point of that exercise was to demonstrate that the model of the old paper textbook is, if not dead, on extreme life support. Every single person we asked would have sent their students to the internet to get the information.

Of course, you can use any recent event as an example, but since we were working in science, we thought that Kepler 10C was an appropriate example.

In Texas, we have the opportunity to use textbook funds to purchase digital devices for instruction, such as iPads and Chromebooks, or even laptops.

OER and Creative Commons materials make buying textbooks even less of a value proposition.

20 Ways to Bring Your Textbook to Life! : Teacher Reboot Camp

Nice set of tools and ideas to make traditional paper textbooks more interactive.

Of course, iBooks Author does most of these things…

From the article:

Your textbook is just another tool in your teacher’s instructional kit. The problem is that for many of us it becomes a crutch when we first begin lesson planning. The textbook can be very useful for planning curriculums and lessons. It is a framework and guide that provides us a general overview of what should be covered within our classes. However, for our learners the textbook is often boring and tedious. No learner wants to spend hours sitting down reading or answering questions from a textbook for an entire year.

Open Education Resource List: Possible Textbook Replacements

Many districts are thinking of replacing the old paper text (and the associated costs) with digital versions. Here is a list our district is generating. Feel free to share. Feel free to add to it.

The more we get the better!

Apr 2

Out of Print: Reimaging the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age

From the SETDA website:

The benefits of digital content for student learning are many. Digital content can easily be kept up to date and relevant to students’ lives without the cost of reprinting or redistributing print materials. It can be made available anytime and anywhere, both online and offline, accessible when the student, teacher or parent needs it, whether from home, school, or another location. And digital content can be far richer and engaging, including not only text, but also high-definition graphics, video clips, animations, simulations, interactive lessons, virtual labs and online assessments.

Out of Print makes the case for the digital difference and how digital content can positively affect student learning and engagement, make accommodations for special learning needs, provide unbundled search and discovery, and provide support for personalized learning. It also provides profiles of four states – Indiana, Texas, Utah, and Virginia – and summarizes actions of policymakers from nearly half the states to encourage digital content. Research behind to the paper revealed seven success factors for making the shift to digital content: sustainable funding for devices, robust internet connectivity, up-to-date policies, prepared educators, intellectual property and reuse rights, quality control and alignment to standards, and state and local leadership buy-in. This research led to three recommendations:

Complete the shift from print-centric textbook adoption practices to digital resources no later than the 2017-18 school year.
Develop a vision and roadmap for completing this shift that includes eliminating unnecessary regulations and enacting supportive policies, investing in infrastructure and devices to support the shift, and ensuring effective implementation of digital policies.
Ensure a vibrant marketplace for digital and open content.

Click here to download the report

"We went to digital because it makes for better learning," says Frank Portanova, vice principal at Stepinac. "This is the way kids learn today. And the online content is a lot richer. You’ve got assessments, you’ve got virtual labs, you’ve got blogging." The online history books, for example, include videos on subjects ranging from Woodrow Wilson to Malcolm X. The science books show scientific processes in motion. The English books grade an essay and offer a student a worksheet on the proper use of commas if it’s needed. Students can highlight passages or leave notes to themselves in the margins, without ruining the book for anyone else. All the books are available to all the students, so a junior can look back at the freshman algebra book to review a concept. Students can click to find every reference to "osmosis," say, in all the books. The school’s technology director, Patricia Murphy, says the textbooks have been updated three times this semester alone.

- NY school goes all-in on digital textbooks - NBC News.com (via infoneer-pulse)

Digital Textbook Playbook

Here is a handy little guide from the feds for schools on making the transition from traditional paper textbooks to electronic textbooks. From the site: The Digital Textbook Playbook is a guide to help K-12 educators and administrators begin building rich digital learning experiences for students in districts across the country. The playbook offers information about determining broadband infrastructure for schools and classrooms, leveraging home and community broadband to extend the digital learning environment, and understanding necessary device considerations. It also provides lessons learned from school districts that have engaged in successful transitions to digital learning. The Digital Textbook Playbook was developed by the Digital Textbook Collaborative, a joint effort of industry stakeholders, school officials and nonprofit leaders to encourage collaboration, accelerate the development of digital textbooks and improve the quality and penetration of digital learning in K-12 public education. The collaborative was convened by the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Education and builds upon the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and the Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan.

Digital Textbook Playbook

Open Text Resources

My district is making noises about switching to open source textbooks. Of course we are not the only ones. I thought I would make a list of resources that I know about so when the time comes I can refer back. Perhaps you can use these as well. Feel free to add to the list.

Copyright Organizations Connexions: http://cnx.org


Online OER Resources Other:
Nov 4

Stuck Smelling the Textbooks

Over the weekend, I attended and presented at the TNT-c Confrence in the Ysleta ISD. As in so many of the conferences, it was led off by a keynote speaker, Patrick Fogerty, a Brooklyn based educator and speaker. I had never heard of him before so the thought of hearing new ideas was a great motivator to go listen.

I will blog about his talk later, but as I was listening to it, as in so many other keynote sessions I have attended over the years, I was struck not so much by his over arching theme (been there done that), but rather by a throwaway sentence that he mentioned near the end.

He was citing statistics that showed students preferred using digital textbooks over traditional print . He mentioned that he had been speaking to a teacher that said she wouldn’t move to digital texts because “SHE liked the smell of textbooks.”

She liked the smell of the textbook. The paper, the binding, the glue.
He then said that if liking the smell of a book was so important then “Go out and buy a book and smell away. But don’t use that as an excuse to hold your kids back.”

Don’t use your silly notions about what is “right and wrong” to hold your kids back when it comes to using technology in the clasroom.

How many of us as educators don’t try new things because we “like” the old way of doing it? I find myself in that situation at times, Why try a Chromebook when my Macbook works just fine?

Why try a new word processor because I have been using Word since 1998?

Why try a new lesson because the lesson I have been using has worked just fine for years and years.

If it works for me, fine, but that should not be an excuse NOT to let students try new things.

You love textbooks because they smell good? Fine. Smell away.

Please please please don’t hold your students back from trying or using something just because of your preconceived prejudices.

You don’t like ebooks? Fine. YOU use the printed version. :et your kids experience the wonders of electronic texts which are more engaging, more innovative and more up to date.

You can stay in your cave. But don’t imprison the kids in it just because you are afraid to go outside.

Honeycutt said it best when he said “Our students will spend the rest of their lives in the future. Are we getting them ready for it?

Or are we stuck sniffing the textbooks?

picture source: http://images.nymag.com/news/articles/reasonstoloveny/2010/rtlny101222_number16_250.jpg

If I were Selling a K-8 Technology Apps Textbook in Texas

If I were selling a K-8 technology text in the state of Texas, I think I would do one thing that none of the other publishers do:

I would align my technology lessons to the other guys Math, Science, ELA, and Social Studies textbooks.

Here is why:

Say for instance I have a technology lesson where I am asking students to create a chart and a graph using a spreadsheet. Now usually, if I am JUST teaching technology applications, that type of lesson would be taught in isolation. A random technological event. A drive-by technology lesson if you will. It would not be related to anything actually going on in the classroom other that it was another lesson in the classroom.

However, if my technology applications textbook were aligned to say the Math textbook of another publisher, then as a teacher, I would be able to take that isolated spreadsheet lesson and plop it right into the time when I am teaching graphs and charts in my classes. Same with science. When the Pearson book or the McGraw Hill book calls for us to be collecting data and creating graphs, then I would know exactly when it is done not only in my science lesson but also in my technology lesson as well. I wouldn’t have to do a lot of searching and waiting. It would be done for me already.

So for the students, the technology lesson would not be a discrepant event. It would just be a natural part of the science or math lesson cycle. For the teacher, the technology would make more sense as a tool.

It would not be THAT hard to do:

I would find the top ten adopted core curricular textbooks for grades K-8 and then align my lessons to those in the books.

I would put the page number, the standard and the lesson title of each book right next to mine.

Of course, my idea is not totally original. The folks at NROC, the creators of Hippocampus.org have taken all of their online courses and aligned them to the top textbooks in the US for years.

Check it out:

As you can see, the book, the page numbers and the lesson are all aligned.

Pretty sweet. Makes me wonder why the other Tech Apps publishers haven’t thought of it.

An Open Letter to the Texas Education Agency Education Technology Staff

To: John Lopez
Managing Director of Instructional Materials and Educational Technology

Dear John,

Recently, I have had the opportunity to review some new textbooks that are up for adoption across the state. While my main interest is in the Technology Application K-8 adoption, I thought it might be interesting to look at the Math and Science offerings that are also up for consideration. My interest is in how the publishers are addressing the integration of technology into their books.

Here is what I have noticed:

The publishers of the core curricular areas, for the most part, are oblivious to the Technology Application TEKS at any grade level. I asked every publisher representative at a recent textbook adoption fair (see the videos elsewhere in this blog) how they get students to use the 21st century skills that we in the classrooms across Texas are supposedly trying to get our students to learn. Without exception they were ignorant of not only the 21st Century skills (perhaps because none of them are part of the 21st Century Partnership ) , but also the NETS-S as well as, and more importantly, the mandated Technology Application TEKS, K-8, which, if I understand correctly, are our state’s methodology for producing “technology literate” students.

“Technology integrated/infused lessons” to most of the publishers I spoke with involved allowing students to go online and play simulations, to view online videos or to provide teachers with interactive whiteboard lessons. While those have their place, they are, for the most part, low on the SAMR model of technology integration. Students are not asked to communicate, collaborate, connect, or do many of those TA TEKS skills that are required by the state.

This is disturbing on many levels.

First, since the Technology Application TEKS are still separate from the core curricular TEKS, the publishers (and by extension the districts and teachers) view them as, not something to be embedded into a course, but something to be outside of a course. Education technology is not being used as a tool for 21st Century learning, but as a course add on, something more to do, and more importantly, to be avoided because it is not a mandatory part of the core curriculum.

Secondly, if the textbook publishers are allowed to ignore true technology integration, then this will no doubt filter down to wherever those books are adopted. District curricula already have time management issues due to testing and other constraints.

Thirdly, to a publisher, I was told that they “concentrated” only on the core TEKS when making their product. If that is truly the case, and book publishers get their direction from the state offices, who is dropping the ball when it comes to tech integration in the core curricular areas? Who is telling the publishers that true technology integration is not essential enough to be part of a proclamation?

Finally, since the publishers are defining what technology integration is to them and ignoring the TA TEKS, they are essentially driving the car when it comes to how technology is used in the classroom. If they say interactive whiteboard lessons are “technology integration,” who is to argue, since they get their direction from the state? Districts wont. Publishers can say “We are meeting the criteria of the proclamation” and with that statement include classroom technology by implication.

Might I suggest the following:

It is time to move away from the Technology Application TEKS K-8 as separate standards. There should be Tech Apps for Math, Science, English Language Arts and Social Studies. That way, we will assure that these are addressed by publishers and districts at all grade levels. We have seen, and still see, what happens when the TA TEKS are separated from the core. Quite frankly, they are ignored. The time has come to intertwine the different TEKS. If they are important to you then they should be important to everyone.

Part of any State proclamation should include the TA TEKS as part of the proclamation in all core subject areas. This should be a non-negotiable for every single publisher doing business in the state. If the TA TEKS are important enough to create as part of a student’s overall Texas education experience, then they should be important enough to embed into the core curriculum.

If the TA TEKS are truly part of the core area TEKS, not something that districts, publishers or teachers can opt out of because of convenience, then we will go a long way towards actually making our students true 21st Century Learners, something your department has been advocating for as long as I have known you.


Tim Holt

explorELearning talks about their technology component at the YISD textbook adoption fair.

Textbooks under attack in Texas | NCSE

Ideologues on official state textbook review teams are attacking the treatment of evolution and climate change in science textbooks under consideration in Texas, charged the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education in a joint press release issued on September 9, 2013.”Once again culture warriors on the state board are putting Texas at risk of becoming a national laughingstock on science education,” TFN’s president Kathy Miller warned.

As the press release explains, documents obtained by the TFN show ”that reviewers made ideological objections to coverage related to evolution and climate change in textbooks from at least seven publishers, including several of the nation’s biggest publishing houses. Failing to obtain a review panel’s top rating makes it harder for publishers to sell their textbooks to school districts or can even lead the State Board of Education (SBOE) to reject the textbook altogether.”

"The arguments in these reviews are the same discredited claims anti-science activists have pushed for years," commented NCSE’s Joshua Rosenau. Among those claims, various reviewers:

  • called for the inclusion of “‘creation science’ based on Biblical principles”
  • asserted that “no transitional fossils have been discovered”
  • insisted that there is no evidence for a human influence on the carbon cycle
  • claimed that there is no evidence about the effect of climate change on species diversity
  • promoted a book touting “intelligent design” creationism as a reliable source of scientific information
  • denied that recombination and genetic drift are evolutionary mechanisms
  • mischaracterized experiments on the peppered moth as “discredited” and as “fabrication[s]”

“This is scary because of Texas’[s] big influence on publishers and on textbooks used across the country,” Rosenau said. “Publishers should listen to real experts, not unqualified reviewers who don’t seem to understand even basic scientific terms.”