Monday, August 1, 2011

So You Don't Have a Textbook...

You've made the commitment, either by choice or by force, to not use textbooks in your classroom. You saw that they are outdated, not engaging to learners, and have a limited purpose; all of that for an enormous drain on your budget. What now?

As I have been working on the state wide social studies team to develop eCurriculum, I have come across some great resources to help replace the dependence on textbooks. While my lens was originally the social studies classroom, you'll find great resources for many disciplines.

@bryanbauer is a quiet tweeter, but he has access to tons of resources at Iowa Public Television to share with schools. If you thought IPTV was just about old TV shows, you are wrong! Check out Iowa Pathways for history research that connects learners to how an event impacted Iowa. There are content area searches that you can perform too. If videos are something you are interested in having more of, check out the video clips at

You can't go wrong using SweetSearch. For example, the social studies page is a great resource for teachers and students and could replace a textbook all by itself. Mark Moran (@findingDulcinea) is also a great one to follow on Twitter, especially if you are interested in teaching digital literacy.

There are many websites dedicated to learning a particular subject. In social studies I found:
Please share examples of other content area resources on this google doc. Thanks!

I'm a huge proponent of integrating social studies and English language arts. This list of notable tradebooks ties the two so well. Primary sources are always a great way to get students to think about author's purpose, the power of persuasive writing, determining historical context... the list goes on. Try some of these resources to gain access to a variety of primary source documents.

Finally, a hot topic in our area is the use of games in the classroom. Check out some of these sites to get you started using gaming in your classroom.
Revolutionary War Time period -
a ten-week crash course in changing the world -
games for social impact -
Civic Literacy Games -

Regardless of where you are at in the continuum of learning without a textbook, I hope you'll find these resources helpful in your journey.

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