Friday, November 23, 2007

Why top-down text adoptions are wrong #417

OK, the 417 might be an exaggeration, but there are many, many reasons that adopting one physics textbook title for use throughout a multi-school district is wrong.

I've listed the others in a "manifesto," but a new one struck me as I was examining the lab manual CD for Holt's Physics by Serway & Faughn. Many of the lab activities in that resource are Calculator-Based Laboratory (CBL) activities.

I'm not a big fan of CBL. For "tech-labs," I prefer the use of laptop computers. Small gizmos like calculators or single-user sensor monitors isolate students during lab work. One laptop shared by a group acts as a focal point and brings students together.

Still though, many teachers do like the CBLs. And teachers who like CBLs might lean toward adopting the Holt text so as to acquire the CBL-rich lab resource. And they should be allowed to do so.

Other teachers within the same district (like me) might be less keen on the CBLs and might be less interested in the Holt textbook. They might prefer a competing title for a variety of reasons.

Should they be forced to adopt a book they don't like and lab resources they won't use?

Better to let each school site decide which title meets the needs of its own program. That's always the best plan, actually.

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