Monday, October 19, 2015

Textbook Adoption--More Disaster

I wrote a few weeks ago about how badly my district is handling textbook adoption for several courses next year, including my beloved statistics.  Today several of us went to a meeting after school to allow one of the publishers to brief us on all the goodies.

It was a disaster.

The person in the room with us didn't know how to use the technology component--he's the sales guy.  So he tried to set up a "webinar".  I don't know which end the problem was on, but the audio kept cutting out every few words

And what the speaker was trying to explain, from all the way in Florida, could easily have been sent to us in a PDF.  I don't need to be walked through how to sign up for your company's online goodies--tell me what they are and how I might use them.  But we couldn't really do that because calculus and statistics were in the same meeting--because the online sign-on procedure is the same for both books because the publisher is the same.  And because the salesman didn't know how to use any of it.

He's going to send us a PDF of how to log into the online goodies.

You might imagine that the meeting devolved quickly.  It was truly a waste of a couple hours.  I asked my fellow teachers how they're going to run multiple classes when we were only given enough textbooks for one class; were they going to run an entirely separate class, or were they going to run their one "pilot class" in parallel with the others, pointing the students in the pilot textbook class to the appropriate section of the textbook that they're only going to be using for 6 weeks?

The cleaned-up term for this process so far is "goatscrew".


Ellen K said...

We had similar experiences wherein out of ten possible publishers, only one fit the narrow criteria of the Board and those who make choices. We were told 48 hours before the order was due to the Board for approval to make a choice without having seen the full breadth of books offered. We were told our online books (it's about about the bells and buzzers now) would be available this Fall. It's now October and we are begging our warehouse to return our previous, ten years out of adoption texts so that we have something to give to kids in alternative school and suspension to work on and a source for basic vocabulary. We haven't gotten those back either. Frankly it's gotten to the point that I am seriously considering Charter Schools where they make the kids pay for their books up front so at least we have something to use. This is freaking ridiculous.

PeggyU said...

Out of curiosity, what are your favorite texts? If you could use what you want, what would you choose?

Anonymous said...

Maybe they'll take away your desks and filing cabinets next! Wasn't that about the dumbest principal move I've heard of.

Darren said...

I *love* the Dolciani Algebra 2 book.

I've only taught out of one pre-calc book, the same one since starting in high school in 2003. It's not bad, but I'd like even more trigonometry.

I've only taught out of one stats book, The Basic Practice of Statistics (2nd edition) by Moore and published by Freeman. It's not bad, I could stick with it if I had to.

Sadly, I'd have to say this: the older the text, (probably) the better. I don't know when texts had to become ADD-generating devices--look! a half-page picture of a turtle in 16 million color HD!--but I'd rather have one without all the fluff. I want clear, brief explanations, excellent example problems, and problem sets with clearly defined easy, moderate, and "stretch" problems. Seems like that *used* to be the standard for textbooks, now it's a fantasy.

Darren said...

Last anonymous: as long as they don't take away my computer. Modern textbooks seem to be mere hooks which catch districts and maneuver them into buying the "online component", which can cost more than the textbooks themselves! Eventually the book will be useless and only the online component will remain.

Yet, look how well that so-called webinar went.

Ellen K said...

I would avoid the digital solution, except that in many cases that's the only option we are given. Personally I don't like digital books because they can be edited without the reader knowing. That may work well for science or other subjects dealing with cutting edge material, but it makes me wary when we're talking about literature or history, because it could be edited in order to shape opinion.