With a $200,000 budget to purchase mass-produced textbooks that didn't quite fit their curricular needs, a group of three Minnesota math teachers got together over the summer to write their own textbooks.
Hours spent: 100 each. Cost: $25,000. Savings for the school district: $175,000. The new curriculum now lives on the web in the form of an easily updatable online textbook.
Budgetary reasons aside, the teachers at Blaine High School also said that the $65-per-book from companies include chapters that are never used because they're not covered in the state's math tests, according to the Associated Press.
The teachers hope that their new curriculum, catered to the needs of their students and the state's tests, will produce positive results on standardized exams at the end of the year.
At Byron High School in Minnesota, a clash of budget cuts and old textbooks that didn't meet the state's new student achievement standards led the principal and teachers to develop their own virtual textbooks. From The Journal:
Although improvements in test scores can never be attributed directly to any one thing, the results at Byron have been impressive. In 2007, only 29.9 percent of Byron's 11th graders met the state's math proficiency requirements. In 2010, that number soared to 65.6 percent.
Teachers who write their own textbooks can also ensure the quality of their material, or be accountable for what is taught. Earlier this year, history textbooks were removed from Virginia classrooms after dozens of errors were found in the texts. And following extensive review, the books were still laden with mistakes.
This customized textbook model is supported by organizations like the CK-12 Foundation in California, which was created in response to the California Free Digital Textbook Initiative. The open-content, web-based collaborative model supports what they call a "FlexBook," which they hope to help teachers write and design a textbook and curriculum that meets the needs of their students and state standards.
To carry those virtual learning tools, schools across the country -- from elementary to high schools -- have started bringing Kindles and iPads into their classrooms.
Eight elementary schools in Rapides, La. have introduced "techbooks" in lieu of textbooks in science classes, and Apple officials said in September that more than 600 school districts across the country are adopting programs that provide at least one classroom of students an iPad per student to use throughout the school day.
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