11 Ways Extend Your Textbook for Efficacy

Decorative: "Not Another Boring Textbook"


Though aimed at the subject-specific classes, the following posts have a number of ideas that can be used in any textbook-based course to the following ends:

  • To make texts more engaging and effective for students.
  • To increase student engagement and ensure the required reading is completed productively.
  • To enhance (deeper) comprehension of content and issues.
  • To initiate discussion.
  • To include relevant Canadian, local, or current content.

Selected, broadly applicable suggestions are included below:

1. "Fifteen Ways to Adapt Your Textbook So Your Students Aren't Bored to Death" (post) 

    a) Supplements: "Supplement the activities in the text by adding engaging texts on the same theme ... written texts, photos, video clips, infographics, etc."

    b) Jigsaws: "Turn a textbook chapter or a set of questions at the end of a chapter into a Jigsaw activity where students work in small groups."

    • "Each jigsaw group could read one section of a chapter or answer a few of the questions and work to prepare a short presentation for the class on their assigned part."
    • Also known as "Fracture the Chapter"

    c) Graphic Organizers: "Use graphic organizers to assist students in comprehending the textbook and organizing new information (e.g. KWL Charts, Venn Diagrams, etc.)."

    d) Read/Think Alouds: "Convert textbook passages into read alouds or think alouds with follow-up speaking or writing prompts using reading comprehension strategies."

    e) Student-Created Complementary Texts: "Have students ... choose a topic that isn’t covered in-depth in the textbook or that they want to learn more about."

    • "Students can then research the topic and create a new page for the textbook containing this information along with any visuals (pictures, graphs, maps, etc) ... do[ing] a low-tech version on paper or can create one using technology."
    • This could be an excellent way to add (more) Canadian, local, or current content to a standard text.

    f) Online Games, Interactive Activities, and Multimedia: "Take advantage of the online learning resources that usually come with textbooks (like these) which are often more engaging and current than the print version."

    • Often, these include free activities, games, practice tests, visuals, etc. 

    2. "Summary of #ELT Chat Discussion on 'How to avoid death by course book: suggestions and advice for teachers stuck in a very regimented teaching situation'" (post) offers further suggestions (selections):

    a. Self-Correcting/Self-Study and Springboarding: "[A]ssig[n] chunks of [the test or its questions] for homework and then pi[n] up the answer keys ... for the students to self-correct ... giv[ing] them answers keys for self-study."

    • "Use the course book as a springboard to discussion and learner-centred work rather than be enslaved to it. 

    b. Learning Circles: "Use learning circles, where groups of students are working on different activities and then after 15 minutes they change activities."

    3. "Rewriting History and Nine Other Ways to Adopt Textbook" (post) includes additional suggestions:

    a. Show Instead of Tell: "The reading task is often less complex when pictures, diagrams, and other graphic representations accompany or replace parts of the text."

    • "Images to support concepts can be found in magazines, newspapers, or on the web (e.g., Google Images)." 
    • "As an alternative, teachers may have students create additional visual supports for each chapter."

    b. Classroom-Created Textbook: Divide [t] "The classroom version ... into chapters just like the commercial book and the classroom book contained the exact same concepts as the 'official' text."

    • "[S]tudents wr[i]te, illustrat[e], and otherwise construc[t] the classroom book... [and can] referenc[e] and stud[y] from both texts throughout the year."
    • This could be an excellent way to add (more) Canadian, local, or current content to a standard text.

    4. "10 Ways to Use Course Books and Encourage Learner Autonomy" (post)

    "Ask your learners to create their own comprehension questions for reading texts."

    • "They could create questions related [to] elements of the text they found challenging ... do[ing] the reading at home and test[ing] each other in class."
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