Text Book

The textbook that I was given to use with my algebra 2 students is older than I am.

When I told my students that they would be learning the next section out of the book with no help from me, they protested that it doesn’t explain anything.

But I’m making them do it anyway. I’m not obsessed with this idea.

When my department head met to discuss my precalc class recently, one thing that he mentioned was that at the end of class I asked ‘can I assign some homework tonight?’ Obviously that’s not ideal teaching. He then was asking why I don’t make them do homework every night or make them use the book more. He wanted to know what would happen when they took advanced math classes in college.

I really do need to show them that the book exists. A friend of mine runs a support-type class and said that one of my students was confused when she suggested he look in his textbook for help, claiming that we don’t use the book. Which is funny because he’s actually one of my freshman who uses the CME book, which is the only good textbook that I have, and the only one of my textbooks that I use to plan out of.

At first, I felt like the implication was that I was doing my students a disservice by teaching them in ways that made sense and made an effort to meet them where they are. As though my efforts at good instruction were spoiling them, babying them.

But it is true that at some point you do have to teach things to yourself using guides that are difficult. And I do spend a great deal of time trying to convince my students that even if something in school seems scary, they should try chipping away at it anyway. So I figured they could handle the book.

I’ve decided to start with my honors class, mostly because I think they are most likely to need the skill to learn math out of a book. And maybe a little because the next chapter I’m supposed to be teaching them is real boring. (These kids are so much better than simplifying radicals.)

Anyway, considering that I wanted them to develop the skill to read out of textbooks, I figured that it wouldn’t be enough to just throw them the book and say “k we have a quiz Monday.” Instead, I made up a little packet that leads them through the section and at the end mentions Monday’s quiz and what will be on it. After seeing how their eyes skipped over tons of text in their programming assignment, I wanted to walk them through how to read something that wasn’t written for the unfocused, speed-reading, distractable internet generation that they and I are a part of.

Here’s what I made:

I made an effort to make the kids read the important things that weren’t written in glittering ink. I also tried to have them connect examples to each other and to the section’s main ideas.

We’ll see if it works. I think they’ll do it at least … they are my honors kids. Mostly the different between honors and other kids is that these ones do their homework.

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