Oct 20, 2013 by

CSCOPE-ORCSCAM-186x137Written by anonymous Texas teacher



[The following was sent to me, Donna Garner, by a Texas teacher who needs to remain anonymous because of possible retribution from her school administrators.]


I became a teacher because I was fascinated by exactly what, in terms of instruction, caused a student to learn.  For thirty years this fascination has driven me to study, observe, and analyze.


I favor the purchase and use of approved hard cover textbooks.  Textbooks are sequential and generally well designed.  A textbook has an enormous amount of supplemental resources (worksheets) that come with the adoption.  They have online resources that can be pulled up (songs that match the historical time period, cartoons that introduce the lessons).  Textbooks are written to match the Texas TEKS and approved by the SBOE.  Textbooks protect a student from an inexperienced or inept teacher.  Students in other countries have access to good textbooks in every class.  Why don’t our students?  The whole effort to “produce curriculum” to replace fabulous textbooks has been a dismal failure.  Why are we still trying to reinvent a wheel and hope that it rolls?


Please ask the superintendent to come to the meeting with the new language/reading/spelling  textbooks that have been purchased by the district, and ask him to explain why textbooks are being demonized.   There is an agenda in forcing the students away from textbooks.  Without a hard copy textbook, a student is left to try to learn with a folder full of mismatched handouts.


This brings me to the question:  What about a “bank” of teacher-made material?


[Some administrators have been suggesting that teachers upload their teacher-made lessons into a “teacher bank.” This is essentially what CSCOPE did in its early years of development in 2005-2006.  That is one reason why so many of the CSCOPE lessons are not aligned with the new Texas curriculum standards (TEKS), none of which were adopted until May 2008. – Donna Garner]


At first, this “bank” sounds like a great idea.  However, we Texans don’t need to build one such as the Education Service Centers, TEKS Resource Center, etc. have done).  It already exists all over the Internet.  Do a search for “free teacher made worksheets.”  There is a glut of material online written “by teachers for teachers.”

Although a bank of materials uploaded by teachers in Texas sounds great, I can’t imagine why anyone would use it.  This still results in students using a bunch of mismatched “handouts” instead of going through a cohesive, grade-levelled textbook.
Part of my Master’s degree is in “Reading Diagnosis and Remediation.”  When elementary students go through school, they have to read in grade-levelled material.  A textbook publisher does a “readability scan” to assure that the material is written at a specific level.  This is the reason why children advance in their academic ability as they progress through school.


When teachers download “handouts,” the material often does not have background information for the student; and when it does, the “textual support” is often very poorly written (sentence structure and grammar) and is never reviewed.  More often than not, the teacher-made handouts downloaded off the Internet contain content errors and verbiage that is either below grade level or frustrating to the average reader in the class.


Teachers are contracted to teach.  Teachers are usually good communicators, but they are not necessarily good writers.  Every teacher has a planning period every day, which is quickly consumed by meetings, calling parents, copying papers, etc.  Most teachers find no time in the day to grade papers and end up taking all grading home after school.  It is hard for the average person to imagine how much written work a class of students can produce in one time that needs some form of evaluation.


Speaking for myself, I would refuse to upload my well-designed lessons into a “bank” –providing written curriculum materials for a bank of resources is not defined as a part of the duties that are within the scope of my contract.  I have enough to do as it is!


The questions I would like to end with are these:


1.  Why are school officials so intent on eliminating the use of textbooks and bringing in IPADS for the students to learn on?  [iPAD immersion experiments are failing all over the country – Los Angeles, Irving ISD, Ft. Bend ISD, Maryland, etc. – Donna Garner]


2.  CSCOPE was essentially a bunch of handouts pasted together.  Do we want another system that offers the same?


Textbooks insure that a child gets a fairly decent “education” if the teacher follows the book.  If you throw the books out the window, you open the barn door to the progressive philosophy that is being forced upon teachers.  Without decent textbooks, the students are left to make notebooks with foldables, sit in talk-pair-share groups, and do any and all of the time wasting progressive “project based” lessons.  Without a textbook, you the parent are left trying to make heads or tails out of a backpack stuffed full of crinkled, disconnected worksheets with graphic organizers and empty boxes.


We will never achieve excellence on this track.


…I do not wish to come across as a know-it-all, but I do know that I get amazing results in my classroom, and I teach the old fashioned way.  My students thrive with textbooks.  They are so motivated to study that they check out books to read in their free time on the topics we are studying.  Our classroom discussions are amazing  We discuss topics in depth.  It is because my students have INFORMATION to use.


Teaching without textbooks, for me, would be like asking students to run a race with no feet.  Students today are moving up in school without study skills, without phonics and grammar, without spelling, and this is largely because textbook use has been discarded.


[Comment from Donna Garner:  It is important to add that the Texas State Board of Education has adopted and approved instructional materials (e.g., textbooks) based upon the “new” TEKS for all areas of English/Language Arts/Reading and for all grade levels K-12 — this means instructional materials (IM’s) for the emergent readers (Grades 1-3), spelling, cursive, English / Language Arts, and literature – everything that is taught in English classes K-12!


Every public school in Texas should be utilizing these ELAR instructional materials which have gone through the arduous public textbook adoption process and have been documented to meet the state-adopted and mandated ELAR/TEKS.


School districts can use their IM funds coming from the state to purchase these materials.  If your district is not using these IM’s, ask them very assertively why not?  ELAR forms the basis for all future success in school, what possible excuse does a Texas school district have for not using the “best” to teach children?]


Donna Garner



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts


Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.