How would you describe the philosophy behind the books? Patti Smith: The idea was to offer something with a balanced approach. For every lesson, there's...
How would you describe the philosophy behind the books?
Patti Smith: The idea was to offer something with a balanced approach. For every lesson, there's opportunities for teacher-centered instruction as well as student-centered instruction. Because one of the things we know from all of the research we do is that students have different skill sets, they have different learning styles. Teachers have different skill sets and different teaching styles. And so one of our goals is to provide options so that teachers can teach to the best of their ability and to the best of the students' ability. We also have options that allow for students to collaborate and do investigations. The material is accessible for low-level students, and challenging for high-level students.
So there are a lot of different options for how a teacher might use these books in a class?
Smith: That's exactly right. And one of the things we know is that a lot of options can be overwhelming. So one of the things we've done in our teachers' materials is provide clear navigation for your different types of student groups.
Many parents want a traditional-looking math book with very specific examples of how to do math problems. Do your books do this?
Smith: That is one of the elements of instruction we have in our program, and it is consistent throughout the book, because we know a lot of teachers and a lot of students and parents do prefer direct instruction. For every lesson there are multiple examples, with solutions mapped out in the book for students to follow. And then, one of the things that parents have really liked about the program is our lesson tutorial videos. We have one for every example in the lessons, using a master teacher, Dr. Edward Burger, who recently won the Cherry Award for Great Teaching at Baylor University, and he's a former stand-up comic.
In the inquiry-based versus traditional spectrum of math textbooks, where would your books land?
Robin Blakely: I would have to say it falls just to the right of the center — with the right leaning more toward the direct instruction. But pretty close to the center, because of providing the option to bring in investigations as you deem appropriate for your student.
And Holt thinks this is the best approach because it gives teachers lots of options?
Blakely: We feel that it's very important to provide lots of options, because not every student learns the same way. Some need more instruction and more direction, and others don't.
Some teachers say they like inquiry-based books because it's easy to find supplemental math drills, but it's hard to find well-written inquiry-based problems.
Smith: While it may be easy to go and get work sheets, you need to know that they work. So all the pieces tie together, link together to create really strong curriculum and content.
So the math drills are specific to the topic you're trying to teach.
Blakely: Exactly. We all know the Internet has made a ton of material available to teachers, but we have an outstanding group of authors who have helped us develop this program. You don't know who wrote this other geometry instruction or exercise you might find online.
In Seattle, the fight over textbooks ended up in court. Is that happening elsewhere in the country?
Blakely: I haven't seen any other lawsuits like this ... It's really not surprising to hear this happening at all. Everybody is really taking math, in particular, very seriously right now. There's always been a controversy about the best way to teach math.
Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or email@example.com
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