Thursday, January 24, 2008

Textbook Pilot Voting

As I understand it, currently the pilot participants will vote with these choices:

a. Textbook A definitely, B not
b. Textbook B definitely, A not
c. A, B is ok
d. B, A is ok
d. No pick - use current materials

It would be advantageous from a professional development standpoint to augment the following choices.

a. Textbook A definitely
b. A, B is ok
c. Textbook A or another text that eases teacher professional development
d. Textbook B definitely
e. B, A is ok
f. Textbook B or another text that eases teacher professional development
g. No pick - current materials are adequate or another text that eases teacher professional development

This option set applies to Pre-Algebra (Grade 7 math) in particular. If the other groups (AR-A1-G-A2) pick the same vendor, then it would ease teacher training and workloads by using one supplier for all. It might help the students be more comfortable. Remember that they have different online suppliers for their other textbooks. They have learning curves.

Technology Implications of New Math Textbooks

After viewing McGraw-Hill's, Prentice-Hall's, McDougal-Littell's, and Holt's short presentations, please accept these thoughts:

1. An LCD projector is mandatory for each math teacher with a new curriculum. A Smartboard may be nice, but only after ALL math teachers have Epson 83c LCD's (about $725 each). Budgets are/will be tight! Room layouts need to be tweaked this year in anticipation.

2. The answer to how all of the wonderful online math software solutions will survive or morph has been partially resolved: they will be rolled-up into major publisher technology components. Prentice-Hall has done a far better job than McGraw-Hill in integrating outside vendors. In particular, the lessons of NutShell Math, the interactive animations of Gizmos, and the supplements of MathXL to its Algebra Readiness program stand out. Also, the integration of MindQuiz into its Algebra Readiness allows teachers to write grants for "clickers" to enhance instruction with no extra software purchase needed. McGraw-Hill/Glencoe's animations are rudimentary. It may have been wise of McGraw-Hill to acquire some of Heymath's technology to be compete with Gizmos.

McDougal-Littell took an independent approach. It wrote lesson tutors, dynamic graphing software, and online animations on its own. The results are quite impressive. Prentice-Hall may have more to offer, but McDougal-Littell's is integrated best for the easiest teacher usage of a large amount of tech with complete teacher support by the integration of graphic organizers, etc. Holt provides a DVD with online duplication. It would be easiest for teachers and students to start with Holt, but over seven years ....

3. Of future importance is the integration of ExamView into all of the textbooks. Besides ExamView becoming the district benchmark test source, it can be used for formative assessment in Jeopardy style games as some point for some teachers. See MindQuiz. It should be noted that ExamView just purchased Interwrite, which makes clickers. In short, teachers writing grants for clickers should be encouraged to buy eInstruction/Interwrite brands, such as Cricket or eInstruction's. There will be a future synergy. Of additional note is that the "front-end" to ExamView is slightly different in each program. McDougal-Littell has the easiest selection of problems, followed by Prentice-Hall. Both McGraw-Hill and Holt's test generation would take a bit more work than the first two. Finally, McDougal-Littell has added many additional problems (classics) into its ExamView library.

4. Both ExamView and Data Director offer test bank libraries. How they compare or are used should be a priority of the math committee. Holt claims that only its test results from ExamView flow into Data Director (which would be very advanced for our district), because Holt owns Data Director. This sounds like a great feature, but it raises a bad question: Isn't Data Director meant to be open? If we purchased a system that is trying to lock out competitors data, it's worth is diminished. This is a serious breach of contract. Holt may be doing a Microsoft. API's to Data Director should be available to everyone (They may not want to offer a connection, but that's another issue.). The managers of Data Director should be spoken with in a direct, straight talk manner. This is not a trivial issue. Interoperability is vital to all.

5. Academic vocabulary is weak in all systems; yet Prentice-Hall is trying the best. It's Algebra Readiness is particularly strong in this area, where real academic words like "isolate" are defined (not just "get x by itself to solve"). By skipping the teaching of words like "consequently" and only focusing on Math jargon, teachers make a major error. Teaching academic vocabulary isn't asking students to write about how they feel about math, it is a valuable component in passing CST and CAHSEE Math, which rival vocabulary tests. This is an important area for professional development.

6. The use of multiple choice during learning, which all of us are guilty of to some extent, is poor from a brain research perspective. Momentum Math is extremely guilty on this topic. Error analysis too soon confuses students long term. The MI pilots have the most extreme difference between the two curriculums.

7. It would appear that due to the disposable nature of MI, that we don't have to make a 7 year committment to it. In my experience, the iPass software product should be sought by teachers who want to use it for MI and can raise the funds for it. It should be considered.

8. Of subtle importance is that the use of math technology will allow the district to pursue more of a "Singapore Math" approach in the next adoption, if the district is willing. The real difference is that "Singapore Math" pushes mastery, then promotion, and tries to keep students in a math register. It doesn't spiral like the US curriculum. Technology should allow highly efficient intervention. We can start planning the future now. The math curriculum of the primary/elementary grades should interest us.