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Old 12-31-2023, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Amelia Island
4,790 posts, read 5,953,784 times
Reputation: 6244

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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
Teacher here. A couple of comments.

First, don't assume that old-school textbooks are actually good. Many are not. Many are also dated and in the 14th or so edition with little changes over 20 years other than perhaps updating photos. I teach biology and there are plenty of amazingly good online resources that are better than most textbooks. Many of them are free. For example, in my field I use this free resource a lot: https://www.biointeractive.org/ Here are two more examples of free online curriculum resources: https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/ and https://serc.carleton.edu/earthlabs/index.html

Second, text books are expensive. The current edition of the most commonly used HS biology textbook (Miller-Levine) costs over $150 a copy which is more than the cost of an actual Chromebook. Multiply that by 5 academic classes and the average student is walking around with $750 worth of textbooks in their backpack. For the current textbook I'm using the district bought a classroom set of 20 copies that I keep on a cart in the classroom (I have 5 sections of 25-33 students each). But they also have access to the textbook publishers e-book which is a tabbed pdf version of the textbook with some additional features that actually make it more usable for students such as the fact that they can word search and one can click on words and terms and have definitions pop out so no need to page back to the index or glossary. Plus, one Chromebook is vastly easier for students to carry around than 5 big textbooks. These days we are down to only a small handful of giant textbook publishing companies that push out some egregiously bad stuff and don't seem to care. They run their companies like some private equity firm did gutting Sears. Pearson, the largest is not even a US company, it is based in the UK.

Third, teachers expecting students to print material at home is very poor form. Complain to the teacher or school administration if it is a regular thing and not some one-off event because printers at school were down or something. My district has a print shop and I provide printed materials when I want them working on printed material. I post PDFs of all assignments to Canvas (teaching portal) for students who may be sick or trying to do something at home and lost the assignment or some such. But that is for their convenience and I tell them that if they don't have a printer, just read off the screen and answer the questions on notebook paper. Shrug. These things are not difficult.


Fourth, Chromebooks allow types of student collaboration that did not exist in the days before computers. Such as things like sharing data across computers. For example, students in a lab group can run an experiment using a single Chromebook and digital probes (Temperature, pH, motion detectors, etc.) and then share their resulting data across all their machines for analysis later. They can do some pretty cool stuff.

We live in a digital world. It is pointless to teach students like we are living in the 1930s. The college and future workplace that they will be moving on to doesn't live on paper books. And is less so every passing year.
From a parents stand point and definitely don’t want to come off as argumentative.

There was no textbook for Biology so we had to buy one. Textbooks might be outdated but the Algebra/Geometry text book that is in the syllabus we requested from the school for homework has worksheet problems but no answers in the back of the book as in the old days. Once they submit their homework electronically they are graded for completeness and never given back so they don’t know what they didn’t get right until they take the test.

As far as giving the students printed materials it is not happening in many of their classrooms. While we don’t like it we aren’t going to make waves. They print at home. Luckily we have a good printer and internet.

My identical twins are very chill and we have been trying to get them to be come more outgoing socially but they are shy but very genuine and compassionate and they have one teacher that has a rule in her class “ask three before me”. The teacher will not help a student until the student picks three classmates to ask for help.
I guess this falls under our responsibility to teach them to advocate for themselves more.

I definitely feel for those in the teaching professions and would not like to be in their shoes but I wonder with some of my twins teachers what is going on. As a parent you can follow your children’s progress daily online. We are finding that some teachers make a lot of mistakes on data entry. One daughter had a recorded 0 in a class and the other a 65 in the class. After an email to the teachers the 0 was an 100 and the 65 was a 96. My wife recently checked on of the twins report card online before they dropped and one twin had comments that she was a bit disruptive and showed no interest in the class. This is an honors class where she is maintaining an A+. My wife requested a meeting with the teacher……the teacher inputted the wrong data for my daughter and it was corrected.

We are an A rated school so I guess things are working in the administration’s eye's.

I understand that computers and technology are becoming the norm but most of their classes are self learning and classroom participation amongst the students is next to nothing. Yes textbooks are old school but learning to read and comprehend what you read is still important. Not everything in life can be explained by a Google search.

You sound like a very conscientious teacher and I hope you get the respect you deserve form your students.
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Old 12-31-2023, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
50,122 posts, read 23,785,288 times
Reputation: 32521
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwatted Wabbit View Post
A jammer works for me. I'd never allow any kid to use their phone in my class, were I a teacher. Way back when, this would not even have been a debate.

DON'T BRING YOUR PHONE TO SCHOOL. PERIOD. It goes in the landfill if we catch you using it or with it.
Unfortunately, as a poster posted (and I confirmed), that procedure would be illegal without exceptions.
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Old 12-31-2023, 11:41 AM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
50,122 posts, read 23,785,288 times
Reputation: 32521
Quote:
Originally Posted by WRM20 View Post
If it goes to the landfill, I would own you. You have zero right to throw away or destroy personal property. Could you, personally, afford to replace 30 phones you destroyed?
You are correct
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Old 12-31-2023, 02:17 PM
 
Location: Plano, TX
993 posts, read 2,437,906 times
Reputation: 1110
A few years ago (~7?) my older daughter had a science teacher that took away fidget spinners from kids that were playing with them during class and mailed them back to the parents. He was fired because of it. I'm sure similar action would occur if teachers in most school districts tried to restrict phone access. Thankfully there are least currently still summer camps where cell phone restrictions are allowed.
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Old 12-31-2023, 03:39 PM
 
Location: A coal patch in Pennsyltucky
10,244 posts, read 10,491,670 times
Reputation: 12539
Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
Teacher here. A couple of comments.

First, don't assume that old-school textbooks are actually good. Many are not. Many are also dated and in the 14th or so edition with little changes over 20 years other than perhaps updating photos. I teach biology and there are plenty of amazingly good online resources that are better than most textbooks. Many of them are free. For example, in my field I use this free resource a lot: https://www.biointeractive.org/ Here are two more examples of free online curriculum resources: https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/ and https://serc.carleton.edu/earthlabs/index.html

Second, text books are expensive. The current edition of the most commonly used HS biology textbook (Miller-Levine) costs over $150 a copy which is more than the cost of an actual Chromebook. Multiply that by 5 academic classes and the average student is walking around with $750 worth of textbooks in their backpack. For the current textbook I'm using the district bought a classroom set of 20 copies that I keep on a cart in the classroom (I have 5 sections of 25-33 students each). But they also have access to the textbook publishers e-book which is a tabbed pdf version of the textbook with some additional features that actually make it more usable for students such as the fact that they can word search and one can click on words and terms and have definitions pop out so no need to page back to the index or glossary. Plus, one Chromebook is vastly easier for students to carry around than 5 big textbooks. These days we are down to only a small handful of giant textbook publishing companies that push out some egregiously bad stuff and don't seem to care. They run their companies like some private equity firm did gutting Sears. Pearson, the largest is not even a US company, it is based in the UK.

Third, teachers expecting students to print material at home is very poor form. Complain to the teacher or school administration if it is a regular thing and not some one-off event because printers at school were down or something. My district has a print shop and I provide printed materials when I want them working on printed material. I post PDFs of all assignments to Canvas (teaching portal) for students who may be sick or trying to do something at home and lost the assignment or some such. But that is for their convenience and I tell them that if they don't have a printer, just read off the screen and answer the questions on notebook paper. Shrug. These things are not difficult.

Fourth, Chromebooks allow types of student collaboration that did not exist in the days before computers. Such as things like sharing data across computers. For example, students in a lab group can run an experiment using a single Chromebook and digital probes (Temperature, pH, motion detectors, etc.) and then share their resulting data across all their machines for analysis later. They can do some pretty cool stuff.

We live in a digital world. It is pointless to teach students like we are living in the 1930s. The college and future workplace that they will be moving on to doesn't live on paper books. And is less so every passing year.
Most school districts and teachers are in agreement with you. I notice that teachers who actually have new textbooks are not using them. We have moved to the worksheet generation.

I've found most textbooks to be pretty good, but I'm most familiar with social studies textbooks. The problem I have seen with science and literature textbooks are the publishers have made them too large. The more inclusive the book is, the more likely it will meet some state's textbook RFP. I've seen these books go over 1500 pages. Going back to 7th grade, I can remember teachers giving an assignment to read the next chapter and you might have a pop quiz on it. This has disappeared from today's schools.

What we are missing without the use of textbooks is students ability to read. You can obviously read on a Chromebook, and some students prefer to read books on their phone, but I believe students are reading much less then previous generations. I just don't think most people can read more than a couple pages of text on a computer screen.

You mention the cost of textbooks. Much of this is due to the consolidation in the K-12 textbook publishing industry limiting most new textbook purchases to 2-3 book publishers. Book publishing should be cheaper today compared to 50 years ago, but schools in my area didn't seen to have a problem providing a textbook for every student.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
My kid's school system went all in on Chromebooks several years ago. Their thought was that Chromebooks were cheaper than textbooks and teachers would build class "texts" (for lack of a better word) by compiling and organizing online resources in sequence and in line with state standards. There were big press releases and interviews in the news on how much they were going to save using Chromebooks instead of textbooks.

The reality was:
a. Kids brook Chromebooks much faster than they ruined textbooks. The replacement rate, and therefore cost, was much higher than textbooks. You could say charge the parents, but the kids who broke them were the same ones with parents who couldn't put food on the table. You can't get blood from a turnip.
b. Teachers didn't write structured "texts" like expected. It was actually a lot of effort to create a "text" using online material. Finding it, validating it, comparing to state standards, putting it in sequence, and then ensuring all the teachers were using the same material. They found to do it properly, they would have to pay people over the summer to create these "texts."
c. Many students don't have access to the internet at home. Some couldn't afford it; others lived beyond the end of the line.

In the end, they still had to buy textbooks and stop issuing Chromebooks to everyone to take home, limiting them to classroom use.
I agree with all of your points. I don't see Chromebooks as a replacement for textbooks, but as a tool for students and teachers to use as an upgrade to pencils and paper.

Your point b. is very interesting. I notice that many teacher's classes are very random and there is no pressure to cover a certain amount of material. The exceptions are biology and Algebra I, which have state mandated end-of-course assessments.
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Old 12-31-2023, 06:47 PM
 
12,578 posts, read 8,809,297 times
Reputation: 34390
Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
Most school districts and teachers are in agreement with you. I notice that teachers who actually have new textbooks are not using them. We have moved to the worksheet generation.


Your point b. is very interesting. I notice that many teacher's classes are very random and there is no pressure to cover a certain amount of material. The exceptions are biology and Algebra I, which have state mandated end-of-course assessments.
I'm not very fond of worksheets. Made it easier to grade but reduced everything to a fill in the blank type of answer. Which resulted in a lot of the kids not being able to articulate a complete answer to an open-ended question. Some of the discussion up thread was about students just "looking up the answer" on their phone. Well, that's what they're being taught to do essentially -- look up the fill in the blank answer. It's not the phone causing them to do that, but merely the tool they're using to provide what the teacher wants. Take away the phone, computer, Google, internet, and they'll still be providing one word or "short answer" responses because that's what they've been taught to do. In my opinion, focusing on the phone distracts us from really looking the fundamental problem.

Regarding point b. Around here the teachers have flexibility in how they teach but have limited flexibility in what and when. Everything is so tied to the state standards so much so that many of the teachers I've talked to, if a resource isn't a direct drop in plug and play lesson, they can't use it because it will throw them off the timeline.
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Old 12-31-2023, 09:22 PM
 
Location: WA
5,286 posts, read 7,577,932 times
Reputation: 8225
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBtwinz View Post
From a parents stand point and definitely don’t want to come off as argumentative.

There was no textbook for Biology so we had to buy one. Textbooks might be outdated but the Algebra/Geometry text book that is in the syllabus we requested from the school for homework has worksheet problems but no answers in the back of the book as in the old days. Once they submit their homework electronically they are graded for completeness and never given back so they don’t know what they didn’t get right until they take the test.

As far as giving the students printed materials it is not happening in many of their classrooms. While we don’t like it we aren’t going to make waves. They print at home. Luckily we have a good printer and internet.

My identical twins are very chill and we have been trying to get them to be come more outgoing socially but they are shy but very genuine and compassionate and they have one teacher that has a rule in her class “ask three before me”. The teacher will not help a student until the student picks three classmates to ask for help.
I guess this falls under our responsibility to teach them to advocate for themselves more.

I definitely feel for those in the teaching professions and would not like to be in their shoes but I wonder with some of my twins teachers what is going on. As a parent you can follow your children’s progress daily online. We are finding that some teachers make a lot of mistakes on data entry. One daughter had a recorded 0 in a class and the other a 65 in the class. After an email to the teachers the 0 was an 100 and the 65 was a 96. My wife recently checked on of the twins report card online before they dropped and one twin had comments that she was a bit disruptive and showed no interest in the class. This is an honors class where she is maintaining an A+. My wife requested a meeting with the teacher……the teacher inputted the wrong data for my daughter and it was corrected.

We are an A rated school so I guess things are working in the administration’s eye's.

I understand that computers and technology are becoming the norm but most of their classes are self learning and classroom participation amongst the students is next to nothing. Yes textbooks are old school but learning to read and comprehend what you read is still important. Not everything in life can be explained by a Google search.

You sound like a very conscientious teacher and I hope you get the respect you deserve form your students.
I'm not some super-teacher. But I have been doing this for a while and I am meticulously organized. I also eliminate all the excuses. They have multiple sources for each assignment and often their choice of two different assignments for each lesson, one more textbook based, and one more visual-based.

But teaching is like any other profession. There is a range of talent and ambition. Most teachers I know are dedicated professionals who do their best and often go way above and beyond. But there are some who are burned out and some who are disorganized and something of a mess. I don't think that is any secret.

My advice if you are having difficulties with a particular teacher is to contact the TEACHER first. Don't go above their head until you have exhausted all options because no one wants their boss coming down on them because of some parent who complained to the administration and didn't have the courtesy to discuss with the teacher first.

And honestly, volunteer if you can help. Come to the meeting with solutions, not problems. From your description it sounds like the teacher is doing things wrong, or at least not in the most effective way.

I produce packets of all the materials for each unit or chapter and have it all bound in a spiral binder by our print shop. I include doodle notes, coloring sheets and various other fun stuff to do along with all the printed worksheets, labs, etc. They keep them in the classroom in stacks and only need to take them home if they are behind or something and need to get caught up. I grade them once a week and leave comments, etc. so they can see their grades and my comments in their notebooks. Tests are all open note which gives them an incentive to keep their workbooks up and well organized. I explain to them that the work they are doing in class is for THEM not ME. I already know this stuff. Making the tests open notes gives them more incentive to get their work done.

About half the test questions are simple vocabulary and concepts right out of their notebooks but that only gets them up to about a 50 or 60 out of 100. The rest of the questions are taking the concepts that they learned and applying them in new ways to show that they really understand the material and having open notes doesn't really help with that if they don't understand the material. Nor will whipping out a phone on the sly and googling.

This works well when I have a meeting with parents. I can whip out the last 3 or 4 bound packets that their student has completed (or not completed) and then grab an example or two from some A+ students that have beautiful perfect notebooks and they can look at the difference side-by-side.

Usually I get an "Oh....I see" And then we put together a plan to get their student back on track.
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Old 12-31-2023, 09:32 PM
 
Location: WA
5,286 posts, read 7,577,932 times
Reputation: 8225
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
I'm not very fond of worksheets. Made it easier to grade but reduced everything to a fill in the blank type of answer. Which resulted in a lot of the kids not being able to articulate a complete answer to an open-ended question. Some of the discussion up thread was about students just "looking up the answer" on their phone. Well, that's what they're being taught to do essentially -- look up the fill in the blank answer. It's not the phone causing them to do that, but merely the tool they're using to provide what the teacher wants. Take away the phone, computer, Google, internet, and they'll still be providing one word or "short answer" responses because that's what they've been taught to do. In my opinion, focusing on the phone distracts us from really looking the fundamental problem.

Regarding point b. Around here the teachers have flexibility in how they teach but have limited flexibility in what and when. Everything is so tied to the state standards so much so that many of the teachers I've talked to, if a resource isn't a direct drop in plug and play lesson, they can't use it because it will throw them off the timeline.
It really also depends on the subject. Chemistry and physics are very problem-oriented. To master the material you really need to solve problems. You can do it on well-organized worksheets that include reference materials, formulas, explanations, etc. Our you can assign the same problems from out of a textbook. Or assign them from online problem sets which is BY FAR the worst way to do it. Since the chemistry and physics problem set web sites are not very smart and will reject right answers that are not punctuated perfectly, or don't have units presented perfectly, or any of a bazillion reasons and it can be exceedingly frustrating to figure out what you did wrong.

I usually also grade them in class with the students so they can grade their own work and correct their own mistakes. They do their work in pencil or blue/black pen and do their grading in red pen and get partial credit for correcting mistakes. So I can see their original attempt and then how they corrected it.

Biology lends itself less to rote worksheets. When I include them they are usually more concept-based. Venn diagrams, flow charts, diagrams to color and annotate, that sort of thing. It is less about solving problems and more about exploring concepts and diagramming complicated things.
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Old 12-31-2023, 11:53 PM
 
12,578 posts, read 8,809,297 times
Reputation: 34390
Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
It really also depends on the subject. Chemistry and physics are very problem-oriented. To master the material you really need to solve problems. You can do it on well-organized worksheets that include reference materials, formulas, explanations, etc. Our you can assign the same problems from out of a textbook. Or assign them from online problem sets which is BY FAR the worst way to do it. Since the chemistry and physics problem set web sites are not very smart and will reject right answers that are not punctuated perfectly, or don't have units presented perfectly, or any of a bazillion reasons and it can be exceedingly frustrating to figure out what you did wrong.

I usually also grade them in class with the students so they can grade their own work and correct their own mistakes. They do their work in pencil or blue/black pen and do their grading in red pen and get partial credit for correcting mistakes. So I can see their original attempt and then how they corrected it.

Biology lends itself less to rote worksheets. When I include them they are usually more concept-based. Venn diagrams, flow charts, diagrams to color and annotate, that sort of thing. It is less about solving problems and more about exploring concepts and diagramming complicated things.
From the description you've given, you sound like an excellent science teacher in the top few percent of teachers. Your students are lucky to get the style of teaching you're describing.

Our oldest suffered through a year of online problem sets that had all the problems you describe. She was so frustrated because the system kept rejecting her answers. Turned out she was working the problems correctly but for the very reasons you gave, the system rejected them. That software pretty much wasted half a year in negative learning.
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Old 01-01-2024, 03:43 PM
 
Location: WA
5,286 posts, read 7,577,932 times
Reputation: 8225
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
From the description you've given, you sound like an excellent science teacher in the top few percent of teachers. Your students are lucky to get the style of teaching you're describing.

Our oldest suffered through a year of online problem sets that had all the problems you describe. She was so frustrated because the system kept rejecting her answers. Turned out she was working the problems correctly but for the very reasons you gave, the system rejected them. That software pretty much wasted half a year in negative learning.
I have three daughters who have all gone through HS and suffered through teachers good and bad. The youngest is now a HS senior and more or less in cruise control at this point since she has already been accepted to her #1 choice for college. So I'm not unfamiliar with the perspective of being a parent. And I have suffered through those chemistry and physics online problem sets as a parent and hate them too. Sometimes they get me stumped trying to figure out what the error is and I teach this stuff.

I generally encourage my daughters to advocate for themselves and have almost never intervened with teachers because that is one of life's lessons too. Learning how to be your own advocate. It has all turned out fine and I think teaching them independence in their studies in HS has set them well up for success in college where there are no parents hovering.
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