Textbook Reading

September 26, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Posted by Jennifer Yu

In this GMST program, we are taught that traditional ways of teaching does not work. It doesn’t interest, engage, or motivate students to learn. Students aren’t retaining any of the information they are taught. Chapter three talks about how textbooks are hard to read, badly designed, and are inaccurate. Our inquiry textbook, Constructivism edited by Catherine T. Fosnot, there’s a chapter by von Glaserfeld (2005) who talks about “illusions of fixed meaning.” Students construct their own knowledge based on their perceptual and conceptual experience. When teachers teach out of a textbook, students don’t get the inquiry experience. They don’t get explore and investigate what they are interested in. They only get he experience of learning from a textbook. If they are solely taught with textbooks, that is the only experience that they can associate learning from, and that it is boring and irrelevant. Why should they care? I agree that we should not be teaching students out of the textbook. From my personal experience, textbooks were full of facts, nothing that I can connect to. I didn’t see the purpose of using textbooks, unless I was referencing something from it. We should engage students in more current reading, such as articles from magazines, newspaper, or from the internet. This way we are keeping the literature more current and relevant to the students.

In chapters 5 and 6, the book gives us examples of literacy techniques that can help students learn how to read better and we went over these techniques in class. These techniques focuses on the before, during, and after reading so that students understand the text. What I am trying to figure out is, are these reading activities part of the inquiry? It is not inquiry if we give students readings to practice reading techniques. Does it make it inquiry if I let my students chose their own reading? Are students constructing knowledge when we are teaching these reading strategies in the traditional way, where we are telling the students this is what you should do before reading, during reading and after reading? We are providing an opportunity for students to learn how to read content literature, but what about the students that are not struggling with reading? How are we keeping them engaged?



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  1. I agree with you on this topic to an extent. In chapter three of our book it does state that textbooks are hard to read and badly written. This goes for some of the textbooks out there. Teachers need to have input on the books their district invests in. School districts spend tens of thousands of dollars every few years to update their curriculum. And some teachers do not even use the books. They have their own curriculum they have made up that aligns with state regulations. Another thing that NYS public schools have trouble with is the topic of inquiry. Teachers have very little time to plan in inquiry projects because they have to prepare their students for the regent’s exams at the end of the year. Any teacher would love to plan project based lessons for each chapter, but that is hard to do when students are faced with the big tests at the end of the year.
    In What’s so bad about teaching to the test? states that, “The state provides textbooks and curriculum that match the standards, and the tests measure achievement of the standards.” This places a huge role in the NCLB Act. This act forces teachers to teach to the test because the students are measured each year. This leaves little room for teachers to plan in inquiry projects. Also, a teacher job position is based on how well their students perform on these state tests. A district is not going to keep a teacher around if their student’s do not perform well on state tests.
    Over my first two years of teaching I have learned when to plan these inquiry projects into my lesson planning and curriculum. I do feel students learn from inquiry based projects, but unfortunately the state tests do not let me do them that often. I usually plan for three projects a year and they occur the last two days before a major vacation break. Students very rarely pay attention around Christmas time, so I feel it is best to plan these projects around then. I base the projects on what we have or going to be doing, but give the students a chance to have a teachable moment themselves.

  2. From reading your post, I can see your confusion on what is what, and that is why I like your post so much. One of the classes I am taking, Differentiating Instruction, talks about concepts. The first day of class I was getting comfused because I remember our UbD saying “concept or topic” thinking they are interchangeable. Apparently, concepts are bigger, for example, relationships, change, and so on. I decided to ask my teacher why I am getting different meanings of a concept. She replied by saying, “Vanessa, The word concept has been used by different people at different times. The best we can do is clarify our meaning when we use it. How you define concept depends on your own experience with that word.” Throughout our learning experience in the GMST program I have become confused by teachers having different meanings of one word. Has this ever happened to you? The best thing we can do is to keep asking questions, and if our questions are not answered then to let the person answering know this so they can explain further.

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