Textbooks. They are the backbone of most schools. They are often seen as the schools “curriculum guide.” They are not for learning. Maybe they used to be. Before the world was at kid’s fingertips. Now? They are just a resource. Like Google. Like the library. I’ve seen textbooks with “Differentiated for All Learners” and “Common Core” stickers slapped on the boxes. Stickers that tell only half the story of what’s inside the book. I’ve seen “Technology Integration” mean a CD of PDF’s that go with the series. I’ve seen “Differentiated” mean 3 different worksheets that go with a chapter. I’ve even seen books trying imitate inquiry learning and ask lots of questions. Questions that are pre-made, pre-written, and come from people in offices, far away, that don’t even know the kids in your classroom.
Inquiry based learning. Project based learning. Passion based learning. Put the books where they belong. On the shelf. A resource. Just like the library and Google. Making student thinking and questioning the backbone of schools. Make technology integration a seamless part of the learning experience. It’s all about authentic learning, about your students, their needs. Thinking shouldn’t be an event that happens at the end of a chapter or when a book asks a question. Thinking should be the backbone of schools.
If you ask kids “How does Government work?” Your struggling learners may explore how the United States and seek understanding in how a republic works. They may research democracy and create a concept map about our republic. At the same time, you might have an advanced learner reaching farther, learning about oligarchy, monarchy, and comparing those forms to a democracy. As a teacher, you facilitate. You support. You throw in questions to springboard their thoughts. The kids? They are driving. They are thinking. They are learning. They are collaborating. They are asking the questions. Or, they could just read that paragraph about government on page 254.
This can be scary. It can be a change. With a textbook in hand, the teacher is in full control of the learning. Delivering content. Collecting work. It feels like an organized form of ‘learning.’ But real learning? It’s messy. It’s fluid. It’s kids thinking, collaborating, discussing, questioning, moving, creating, designing… it’s what happens when we move aside and let them go. It’s what happens when we put the textbooks back on the shelf.