Textbooks as a tool for learning

Many schools who have worked with any of the previous Numeracy Development Officers will know that the use of textbooks when they are used in the form of ‘today we’re on p.23 and tomorrow we’ll be doing p.24’ is discouraged as the pace and level of challenge often isn’t quite right for pupils and opportunities for rich discussion and deeper learning are sometimes limited or missed.  Some textbooks also offer quite a procedural approach to learning with rules and procedures that if rote learnt without conceptual learning often don’t appear to help pupils in the long term.

However, as with anything, if the right textbook is used as a ‘flexible tool’ to support teaching and learning at the right time then it can be useful and effective as with any resource or material.

Craig Lowther, who previously worked in Moray and now works at UHI, will be delivering a webinar for the GTCS about this very topic.  The details and link to the event are below:

gtcs webinar

Title: GTCS Webinar: Using Maths Textbooks in Primary
Date: 04.02.19
Time: 16:00 – 17:00
Venue: Online

To register and for more details click here: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/News/events/gtcs-webinar-using-textbooks-to-promote-mathematical-learning-in-primary.aspx

For those of you who have read my previous posts about Dan Meyer’s 3 ACT TASKS, you may be interested to know that some of his 3 Act Tasks are inspired by textbook questions but turned from sometimes quite dull questions that purely require computation (often of a given algorithm) to contexts in real life that stimulate pupil curiosity, encourage them to question, estimate, justify and explain as well as the doing the computation part.

Here’s a Ted Talk from Dan Meyer explaining it in more detail (well worth a watch):

So, I suppose the message I’m trying to get across here is three fold:

  • Reflect on the appropriateness of the resources/tools you have and how you are using them.
  • Use the tools that you’ve got in a flexible and meaningful way to promote pupil understanding.
  • And finally, the old saying… ‘It’s not what you’ve got, it’s the way that you use it!’
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