Tuesday, January 19, 2016
My Favorite Thing...my textbook (surprise!!)
I was thinking about the prompt for this week's MTBoS's Blogging Initiative during my first block class today. I was also watching them draw sketches for the unit problem in The Pit and the Pendulum unit of our Algebra text. I went down to Mrs. New's room after class and was talking to her about how much fun it is to have these days where my students get to do something that is "outside the box" of what usually happens in algebra class.
I am great at research and can find some cool activities by Googling or asking the "all-knowing" #MTBoS on Twitter but that takes a lot of time and although I enjoy it there are moments during the school year that I just can't dedicate time to finding the "perfect" activity. This is why I LOVE our IMP Meaningful Math Algebra books. The units are so creative. The students have opportunities to draw sketches, write, perform experiments, and apply the majority of algebra to a context that helps them to wrap their mind around the topics. We still solve algebra problems in class, of course, but if you teach from this text you will already have creative lessons and ways to make connections to history, English, and science within the units.
I know that there is a movement out there to "ditch the textbook" and I get it. However, I am blessed to be in my 2nd year of teaching from a textbook that I can feel good about teaching from cover to cover. I love days like today where my "non-mathy" students come in and realize they will have the opportunity to show off their art skills. I am a math/English certified teacher so I love that 2 of our units use literature contexts to make them more interesting (the other is Alice in Wonderland).
I heard NCTM's president, Diane Briars, speak this past Fall. I remember her talking about how some teachers are trying to piece together resources from here or there in order to teach. I am paraphrasing here and I hope that I don't misrepresent what she was saying that day - but I feel like her intention was to remind us that a teacher's job is not to write curriculum. This made me realize that it is okay that I do not come up with original ideas and activities to use in my classroom! Sometimes I feel guilty about not having that "gift." However, she talked about how we should be careful during the textbook adoption process to find texts that are well written. I had never been shown how to analyze topics in a textbook. That seems silly I guess but until I started teaching from the IMP books I never cared what textbooks we used because I was of the opinion that they were all the same. Definitions, examples, and problems sets... I had never heard of research-based curriculum that had been developed with the "approval" of the NSF (National Science Foundation). After teaching from these books I understand the difference!
So...one of my favorite things that I use in my classroom is our "new-to-me" textbooks!