Friday, February 1, 2013

When I was a kid we had this thing called paper...

Yesterday I talked about the death of textbook companies. Today I want to open a discussion about the death of the textbook, at least in the traditional sense. It may see odd that in my previous post I tried to rally some of you to help me create a textbook and today I am talking about killing it. Let me clarify. I am going away from the word "textbook". If it were me I would strike it from our language (along with 'hashtag'... its a number sign!).

I am suggesting that we replace the T-word with "resources". This term has a much broader scope for what is possible with today's technology. We have text, video, simulations, interactive homework, online tutors and a multitude of other resources that students can use to get information. Why are we tying their hands by giving them this crutch. There is no textbook for life. In the real world when I want to find information on how to fix a fuse on my dryer I  watch Bob Villa do it on Youtube or look up the manual on the Whirlpool website (Lord knows I will never find the paper copy).

Here is what I have been moving towards. It is an experiment right now but something that seems to be working. I have done preliminary work in all my classes but have focused mainly on my astronomy class. I began by defining the "Essential Questions" that I believe they should be able to answer after the unit I am teaching. I then went online to find resources that will help students investigate the answers. I put links to these resources online for students to peruse. I am not assigning a particular chapter to read, or a specific movie to watch, I am assigning a question to investigate. They can choose what method they learn best with.

I do of course lecture on these things and we do all the stuff in class we normally do with labs, homework, formative quizzes and such. This is my alternative to their $90 textbook that they never bring to class.

Here is a link to my Astronomy Site and the resources I have found for them. It is not complete but I really am just beginning to flirt with this idea. On my schedule I assign a section (1.1 or 1.2) that they can work with at home.

I am not sure if this is the best method, but so far I have gotten good reviews from kids. There are great resources out there that we all should be using. It is my hope that in future units I am able to give them less and less "resources" with the expectation that they find the material themselves. I may someday pose the question and they will have to find the video or website that explains it. That is what I do when I have a problem to solve.

As always let me know what you think. Please don't be shy.