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On the Limits of Textbooks: Trade Books, Literature, and Electronic Sources in the Classroom Vacca & Vacca, Chpt. 11.

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Presentation on theme: "On the Limits of Textbooks: Trade Books, Literature, and Electronic Sources in the Classroom Vacca & Vacca, Chpt. 11."— Presentation transcript:

1 On the Limits of Textbooks: Trade Books, Literature, and Electronic Sources in the Classroom Vacca & Vacca, Chpt. 11

2 Class Agenda Humor On the Limits of Textbooks: Why and How Textbooks can Hinder Knowledge and Critical Thinking Using Trade Books and Other Reading Items Using Electronic Texts TODAY: Literature Beyond Textbooks & Critical Literacy

3 Class Agenda Giving Back: Peyton Manning and The United Way Literature Beyond Textbooks & Critical Literacy

4 Dominance of Textbooks Textbooks the dominant form of curriculum and content in our schools (it was not always this way—major textbooks became popular only in the last century) -In 1990, 70% of textbooks were controlled by ten largest publishers (Apple, 1990) -Since 1990, large publishers have ‘absorbed’ smaller publishers -Today, four (4) companies control 90+ percent of the textbook market Apple, M. (1990). The political economy of text publishing. Educational Theory 34(4), Crismore, A. (1989). Rhetorical form, selection, and use of textbooks. Technical Report 454. Accession Number: ED

5 Dominance of Textbooks States (like Florida) have a centralized textbook adoption system, a group of people who choose all books for all content areas in all districts -Districts MUST purchase new textbooks per state mandate, regardless of their need for said textbooks -New standards require new texts -Textbook publishers resist issuing electronic texts because hard covers are more expensive and harder to update -DCPS spent $2.5 million for Holt ELA Series (not including future costs) -Textbooks must appeal to widest audience -Widest audiences are state textbook adoption agencies (Texas, Califorina, and FLORIDA = > 30+% of textbook sales) -Publishers choose ‘appropriate’ or sanctioned textbooks for entire state system (Apple, 1990)

6 Dominance of Textbooks Textbooks are now more than ever prescriptive. Districts are increasingly forced to purchase* “managed learning systems” from four major publishers -These ‘systems’ prescribe the exact content to be taught (curriculum), the manner in which it is taught (pedagogy), the pace at which teachers must teach (pacing guides), and the assessments teachers must use to gauge student learning (embedded assessments) -This is commonly referred to as “scripted curriculum” *Districts are required to purchase textbooks through their own funds, funds not supplied by state. This is a form of unfunded mandate.

7 Con-text Primary Questions for Textbook Discussion Does the form of a textbook (and how it is used) discourage divergent thinking? If so, how? Are students taught to examine textbooks critically (are they encouraged to question the author or problematize the text)? What components of a textbook authorizes the text or makes the information therein seem ‘official’ to students or to teachers?

8 Con-text

9 Curriculum as Hegemony? HEGEMONY The social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group over others. The dominant group justifies and reinforces its power through such cultural, ideological and economic influence; it limits what and how those less dominant think about any given issue. “The group controlling the economic and cultural apparatuses of a given society largely determine what meanings are considered the most important, what experiences are deemed the most legitimate, and what forms of writing and reading matter” (Giroux, 1990, p. 367). Giroux, H. (1990). Curriculum theory, textual authority, and the role of teachers as public intellectuals. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision,5(1),

10 Limitations of Textbooks Regardless of the quality of writing, the expansiveness of content, or the pedagogical approach of a textbook, textbooks are inherently limited in the information they contain. Teaching only with a textbook is analogous to teaching a limited curriculum using only one pedagogical approach.

11 The Infallible Textbook The content in textbooks is often promoted—by teachers, by their authors, by their publishers—as unquestionable. What myths have been perpetuated by textbooks and have, subsequently, become ‘common knowledge’? See Also: Loewen, J. (1995). Lies my teacher told me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: Touchstone. Zinn, H. (1999). A people’s history of the United States: 1492-present. New York: Harper Collins.

12 Textbook Myths What myths have been perpetuated by textbooks and have, subsequently, become ‘common knowledge’? Science Intelligence remains constant SCIENTISTS USE THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD?SCIENTISTS USE THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD? not quiteLAKES AND OCEANS ARE BLUE BECAUSE THEY REFLECT THE BLUE SKY? No. CLOUDS REMAIN ALOFT BECAUSE WATER DROPLETS ARE TINY? Wrong!LAKES AND OCEANS ARE BLUE BECAUSE THEY REFLECT THE BLUE SKY?CLOUDS REMAIN ALOFT BECAUSE WATER DROPLETS ARE TINY? THE SKY IS BLUE BECAUSE OF COMPLICATED PHYSICSTHE SKY IS BLUE BECAUSE OF COMPLICATED PHYSICS No, it's simple. A LEMON-BATTERY CAN LIGHT A FLASHLIGHT BULB? doesn't work! SOUND TRAVELS BETTER THROUGH SOLIDS & LIQUIDS? No it doesn't. GRAVITY IN SPACE IS ZERO? It's actually strong. FILLED AND EMPTY BALLOONS DEMONSTRATE THE WEIGHT OF AIR? Misleading. GASES ALWAYS EXPAND TO FILL THEIR CONTAINERS? Not quite. FRICTION IS CAUSED BY SURFACE ROUGHNESS? Obsolete idea!A LEMON-BATTERY CAN LIGHT A FLASHLIGHT BULB?SOUND TRAVELS BETTER THROUGH SOLIDS & LIQUIDS?GRAVITY IN SPACE IS ZERO?FILLED AND EMPTY BALLOONS DEMONSTRATE THE WEIGHT OF AIR?GASES ALWAYS EXPAND TO FILL THEIR CONTAINERS?FRICTION IS CAUSED BY SURFACE ROUGHNESS? See:

13 Textbook Myths What myths have been perpetuated by textbooks and have, subsequently, become ‘common knowledge’? ELA -Grammar consists of long-established rules that do not change. -Grammar rules are not culturally-based. -Spelling does not change with time, generations, or contexts. -Black Vernacular English (‘Ebonics’) is a linguistically inferior form of speech -There are “correct” and specific interpretations of literature (that the experts alone decide). -Mark Twain was a racist. -The five paragraph essay is the best form of expository writing. -Technology is hurting how students write. See:

14 Textbook Myths What myths have been perpetuated by textbooks and have, subsequently, become ‘common knowledge’? Social Studies -Columbus “discovered” new world. -Europeans brought farming and agriculture to a hunter-gatherer people. -Native Americans and African Americans fought for American freedom in the Revolutionary War. -The “founding fathers” were deeply religious people who wanted the U.S. to be a Christian nation. -Slaves were relatively content with their situation and not prone to resistance. -Patrick Henry’s “Give me freedom or give me death” a cry for the freedom of all men (and written by Patrick Henry). -Glorification of Paul Revere: his ride a solitary event. Loewen, J. (1995). Lies my teacher told me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New Yokr: Touchstone.

15 Textbook Myth & Bias Our “view” of the world Question: What is wrong with this common (Mercator) world map?

16 Textbook Myth & Bias Our “view” of the world Question: What is wrong with this common world map? 1)Center of the map (U.S.) 2)Distortion of sphere makes Greenland look as large or larger than Africa (Africa is 14 times larger) 3)Antarctica is cropped from many maps (or deleted altogether); this absence of its land mass makes the northern hemisphere appear to be much larger than it is. 4)In many maps, Alaska looks almost as large as South America when, in fact, South America is much larger.

17 Textbook Myth & Bias Other Valid Views of the World

18 See:

19 Textbook Myth & Bias If we are to teach students ‘truth’ (when/if there is such a thing), we must use more resources than just textbooks. Textbooks represent specific views and thus biases

20 Moving Beyond Textbooks Standards require critical thinking skills, the ability to see issues from multiple perspectives, and—at least in the case of Language Arts & History— understanding/synthesizing information/issues from multiple texts. Trade Books AND MYRIAD OTHER SOURCES can make content materials more ‘real’ to students THUS: It is the teacher’s job to supplement textbooks—or to deviate from them—whenever necessary. Generally speaking, teachers do NOT get into trouble when they supplement textbooks (or sometimes trade texts to help students understand major concepts)

21 Other Texts & Sources of Information Consider using the following in addition to textbooks (and to mixing up these materials with time and lesson content) Non-fiction Books (including “revisionist” history) Fiction Books Newspapers/Magazines Graphic Novels Plays/Movies Picture Books Electronic Sources Art & Music from the Period

22 Trade Books Trade books offer students the chance to see information presented: a) In a very different manner than the textbook - Nonfiction - Fiction/creative - Written in a way in which information is more readily accessible b) From a different perspective than the textbook - Personal “point of view” - From the other side(s)

23 Trade Books You can use texts—often relatively short texts—to help make the information you are teaching “come alive” for students Using trade books encourages reading and promotes better reading Using trade books promotes deeper content understanding Reading Trade books yourself offers you insights into a) the ways the younger generation thinks & b) ways to be creative with lessons.

24 Trade Books Young Adult Fiction is full of great examples about myriad social, historical and scientific issues.

25 Trade Books Non-fiction texts can help ideas come to life.

26 Trade Books: Adding to Understanding Imagine reading a text that describes (from a first-person perspective) how tens of millions of Germans were encouraged—and often forced— to follow Hitler. How did they see the world? Did they all agree with Hitler and his policies? Imagine reading an account of what life is like for a young man in Afghanistan, pressured by myriad forces to join the Taliban. Think about the many perspectives that reading slave narratives or early 20 th Century Black fiction gives to understanding African American culture then and now. Read about the impetus behind famous discoveries such as the development of penicillin, a polio vaccine, nuclear fission, the universe (and its expansion), the ball-point pen… Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

27 Teaching With Other Sources In the case of math, science, music, art, etc.: –Don’t just teach the theory, try to find books, articles, internet sources, etc. that describe that theory in action –Include readings on the discovery & importance of that theory Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life, trials, tribulations (books, internet, movie) Sir Alexander Fleming: who was he? How did he make his discovery? Proving Pythagorean Theorem Who was Louis Pasteur? How did he make his discovery and why was this important? Alexander Graham Bell’s life and discoveries Discovery of value of Pi (who, when, and why was this important?) Discovering means to determine Longitude & why this was important

28 Teaching With Other Sources Zeno's Paradox (495 and 480 B.C.) A runner wants to run a certain distance - let us say 100 meters - in a finite time. But to reach the 100-meter mark, the runner must first reach the 50-meter mark, and to reach that, the runner must first run 25 meters. But to do that, he or she must first run 12.5 meters. Since space is infinitely divisible, we can repeat these 'requirements' forever. Thus the runner has to reach an infinite number of 'midpoints' in a finite time. This is impossible, so the runner can never reach his goal. In general, anyone who wants to move from one point to another must meet these requirements, and so motion is impossible, and what we perceive as motion is merely an illusion. Where does the argument break down? Why?

29 Teaching With Other Sources How many balls are there in the pyramid? - can you create an equation to represent this? How many balls would it require to add two more levels to the pyramid? - Four levels? - Can you create an equation for this? Complete the puzzles.

30 Teaching With Other Sources Complete the puzzles.

31 Teaching With Other Sources Complete the puzzle.

32 Teaching With Other Sources Complete the Color Pyramid puzzle.

33 Trade Books, Electronic Sources, and Images History, politics, social issues, etc., can be brought to life with images. Trade books, magazines, and of course electronic sources often have iconic images that can evoke strong emotions, thoughts, debate, etc. The cliché that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true when it comes to engaging students in reading and learning.

34 Propaganda

35 Iconic Photographs: History

36 Iconic Photographs: War

37 Iconic Photographs: Suffering

38 Picture Books Picture Books can go a long way in helping engage students in ideas. Interesting Examples Picture books can also present students with a new ‘view’ (pun intended) of issues and of the diversity of their world

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45 Teaching Other Sources Read-alouds (discussed previously) Student-selected readings (fiction/nonfiction) – especially those ‘related’ to the content of the lesson biographies of famous scientists, explorers; historical fiction, etc. Whole-group/single book model Individual projects/inquiry Group projects/inquiry/books Drama, Pantomime, Tableau Group activities/discussions Experiments Mock Trials For more information on how to implement these approaches, see Vacca & Vacca Chapter 11

46 Trade Books There are many ways to find really good readings to supplement your content and textbooks See Vacca & Vacca, pages American Library Association Booklist Goodreads Google (a simple search under young adult fiction or young adult nonfiction will give you almost infinite possibilities) Use your PUBLIC LIBRARY or SCHOOL LIBRARIAN!

47 Electronic Texts You can often supplement using only your computer 1)Texts online (increasingly there are whole texts online) 1)Other sources (New York Times, BBC, ESPN, NOAA, Blinkx.tv, etc.)New York TimesBBC

48 Electronic Texts Electronic Media and Hypertexts -Allow students to explore areas of interest further -Allow students to more easily find definitions of terms/concepts that are unclear -Provide some avenues for discussion with others -Provide maps, graphics, tables, etc. that scaffold learning -Can facilitate stronger reading for ELLs and struggling readers

49 Electronic Texts Hyperlinked texts are excellent sources of ‘scaffolded’ reading. They offer many internal and external text features that help readers better understand the content of the text (pictures, hyperlinks, graphics, etc.) Sailboats Music Theory Cell Division World War I Algebra

50 Online Resources Make use of electronic resources that you know you can trust! Example: KHAN ACADEMY Our library of videos covers K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and even reaches into the humanities with playlists on finance and history. Each video is a digestible chunk, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.library of videos Example: Explaining VariablesExplaining Variables

51 WebQuests WebQuests can help students learn about using the internet for research Sample Web Quests from multiple content areas and grades: History Web Quest (Industrial Revolution) History Web Quest (Industrial Revolution ustRev/

52 WebQuests WebQuests can help students learn about using the internet for research However, doing WebQuest well requires teacher preparation and work (it is not a substitute for teaching) Many WebQuest resources are available to teachers (you do not need to ‘reinvent the wheel):

53 Electronic Sources of Information Students love using the computer to find information. You can use the computer to find things that connect your lessons to the ‘real’ world (or, better yet, have your students do this via ‘scavenger hunts’). Scavenger Hunt: 1) Pair students into teams 2) Create a computer scavenger ‘hunt’ organized around the theme of your class lesson (find the relevant information yourself beforehand) 3) Have students race against others to find information using different kinds of sources/sites 4) Check students’ findings in stages (they must pass one stage before moving on to next). See Also: Google Map Street ViewSee Also: Google Map Street View, Google Earth

54 Internet Sources KNOW the websites in your area of expertise (content areas) that are particularly useful and reliable; use these for demonstration purposes and for WebQuest activities Obviously, the internet can be a valuable source of information; it can also be a source of disinformation Teachers must monitor what sites students use for research Watch what students are doing Do not assume that a website name is representative of content Teachers must TEACH about bias on the internet Reverse searches—finding source of information on internet

55 Website Bias White House Dihydrogen Monoxide Martin Luther King September 11, 2001 townhall.com Wikipedia’s “liberal bias” Moon Vacations Protecting one's brain How to examine websites for bias: web.html

56 Website Bias Find out who “owns” or created the site: Do a simple Google search with the URL address and see what other topics or links come about (check out their content) Look closely at a Web site's URL. Does it contain a tilde (~)? - these tiny changes to a URL web address mislead; they often seem to come from reputable places, such as a university or government site (http://www.unf.edu/~coehs/), but are not reputable. Often universities and other organizations give students or outsiders web space (hosting) but they do not control the content of the site.http://www.unf.edu/~coehs/ Help students make objective searchers (vs. highly subjective searches that result in biased information, e.g., “why dogs are better pets than cats” or “government sucks”

57 Electronic Sources of Information Students love newer technologies that you can apply to them and to lessons

58 Electronic Sources of Information Joshua Slocum & His Voyage on Spray Click HERE for YouTube video of how the creator made this site

59 Electronic Sources of Information Other possible uses for such technology: -Mapping wars (World War II in the Pacific for example) -Lewis and Clark’s trek across the west -Shakelton’s misadventure in the Antarctic -Spread of a real or imagined pandemic -Huck’s ride down the Mississippi -Underground Railroad -Stanley and Livingstone -Distance, Direction, Geometry (math) -City Planning (grids)

60 Activity 2: Supplementing Textbooks With people from your content area, BRAINSTORM ways that you might deviate from or add supplements to textbooks: –What materials could you use in your content area to supplement textbooks? –What materials might make the lesson more interesting to students? –What materials might make the lesson more culturally-relevant to students? –What texts might they be interested in reading that you could possibly relate to your content (trade books, magazines, graphic novels, etc.)?

61 Summary Textbooks are a way of life for today’s teachers; however, textbooks are limited in their accuracy, their readability, their interest to students, and their point of view. Reading can be facilitated by supplementing textbooks with other sources. Connecting content from one source to another can help not only with improved understanding of concepts (and a more critical approach to information) but with reading skills.


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