08 June 2011

Myth #5: The textbook is all I need

For my original post about the myths, look here.
photo by NomadicLass

Textbook companies make a lot of money off of telling us that they've done all the work and they're all we need. Audio? They've got it. Video? That too. Activities? Structure? Assessments? It's an all-in-one package, for a price. And out-of-date as soon as it's printed.

It's no secret I'm not a fan of most textbooks. There must be some magic textbook out there that I haven't seen that is so communicative and fabulous, but the ones I've used before leave me wondering, who wrote this? I know they say they're aligned with standards, but what are my students actually supposed to be able to do after this activity? The activities are stale and forced, the vocabulary is endless, and the assessments are designed for easy grading instead of actually assessing language ability.

There's something to be said for having a structure. I don't think I've met a teacher who has just jumped into textbook-free teaching. For me, it was about a two-year process, and it wasn't even on purpose. At some point I just realized that we weren't taking the textbook off the shelf anymore. I realized that using online resources and storytelling and my own activities turned out to be so much more freeing, motivating, authentic, and up-to-date (after all, language is constantly changing). Not to mention it costs less.

Tying ourselves to a textbook and its cheesy, fake, tedious accessories because 'it's all we need' is a myth that is preventing our students from acquiring the real language it takes to communicate with real people. Even if you use a textbook you love, look beyond it to the world of resources that will enrich and inspire your students more than your textbook ever will. Take a look at what the Twitter PLN is talking about. Explore the resources others have shared with me. Look at some of my blog tags like internet activities, YouTube, and assessment. And soon, I'll be posting my summer project: units with activities, standards-based "I Can" statements, and assessment ideas for Spanish 1 - AP Spanish. Steal, thieve, borrow. Collaboration makes the PLN go 'round.


Nicolasa Quidman said...

Great post! I won't lose of sight your blog!

Sarita said...

Thanks and welcome!

donakimberly said...

I found myself doing so much supplementing to the provided textbook that I just "threw it out" about 15 years ago. It was the most liberating experience ever! The rise of technology has also brought the real world into my classroom and allowed me to become about 99% paperless. The quality of resources and richness of authentic experiences available to students is priceless, literally! 100% agree with your post; you're right on!

orangetabby789 said...

If only the other teachers I work with would think this way

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