Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller

Section 3. Ditch That Textbook

  • Ditching your textbook means looking for different, innovative, tech-laden, creative, hands-on ways of teaching. When you do, the Internet will become your new and somewhat messy home. As a home base, Matt choose Weebly.com as his tool for making his class website. This is one of many tools available for non-programmers who want to make websites. Your class website should contain a mix of documents and links that provide some of the resources your students will need. Your site can also contain quizzes students can take to see how they are doing and the best work from each student. Since it is on the Internet, parents and anyone else can see what your class is doing. You should also consider encouraging each student to set up their own blog.

What Else Happens After You Ditch the Textbook?

  • As long as you meet your school’s requirements, ditching your textbook allows you to tailor your content to meet your students’ needs. Your students can also have a role in creating content. Students can learn as they create resources that their classmates can use to support their learning as well. Matt includes an A to Z list of ideas you can use with your class immediately. If your students are like his, they will soon become master digital collaborators.
  • In this world you should see more open-ended assignments, more connection to the real world, more student choice, and more collaboration. Homework, which has a bad name lately, will simply be the continuation of work on student projects. As students post their best work on your blog, expect other students to post comments with some guidance from you. Positive, respectful comments can take the place of grades in terms of providing feedback. For students without access at home, work to find more school time and places like libraries or a friend’s house for after-school access. At the end of your course consider published a .pdf book to show off everyone’s efforts.

Going Global and Dealing with Glitches

  • Another transformative effect of ditching is going global. Your students will have a front row seat to the rest of the world. This is perfect for teaching Spanish like Matt does, but other teachers can leverage this as well. Collaborations with classes in other towns and countries can happen asynchronously via email or synchronously via things like Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime. Matt provides lots of information regarding how to connect and what to do when connects occur.
  • If you aren’t careful, chaos can ensue in a room with lots of connected devices. Matt offers these tips: 1. Circulate frequently. 2. Be inquisitive. 3. Develop relationships and show respect. 4. Set some midway deadlines to keep projects on track. 5. Redirect students who are doing non task oriented surfing. Other problems can result when your hardware, software, and network bandwidth aren’t up to the task. The message here is to be ready for something to go wrong as you begin to go digital. You should also avoid trying to add more than one tool at a time.
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