Browsing Textbooks

Our textbook adoption committee has moved on evaluating different textbooks from various publishers and it’s been more fun than I would have thought. Previously in my teaching career I’ve only seen the textbook we’ve been assigned, so comparing and contrasting dozens of textbooks at the same times has helped me clarify my thinking about what I like, what I don’t like, and what I think a good text book offers.

I’ve noticed that I have some biases. For example, I’m sour on a textbook with too many technology activities. Common Core calls for using tools and technology appropriately, but my district is rather poor and we don’t have much of the technology that’s being referenced. A textbook that assumes all students will have a TI graphing calculator just get thrown in the metaphorical bin in my mind. Too much of the book is taken up with activities my students can’t do.

I love a book with projects and open-ended lessons. I have many resources for practice problems, so having if a textbook doesn’t have a ton, I’m not worried. I’m not a fan of “consumable” textbooks – that is, the kind students write in. I feel that they will get destroyed to quickly, and in my experience it is difficult to have a consistent supply of them.

Finally, I don’t understand why a textbook manufacturer would submit their text for consideration without including a Teacher’s edition. If I have a question like, “What standards does this lesson address?” or “How can I support English Language learners with this lesson?” the answer might be in the teacher’s edition, but I’d never know.

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