Monday, April 6, 2009

asking questions to the clueless

This morning when I walked into the main office I was informed that they were ordering Geometry textbooks for next year's course... today. The secretary told me there was no core curriculum and she needed to know what book to order within a few hours.

Potential problems:
#1: I have never taught geometry and have no idea what books are out there.
#2: I don't know anyone who is currently teaching Integrated Geometry to ask for advice.
#3: A novice myself, I don't even know what makes a textbook good!
#4: I'm the only math teacher in the department with no AP to consult.

At the advise of the secretary, I visited the math AP from another school on our campus. He suggested a particular book (Amsco), however he didn't seem too thrilled. I previewed that book online and it seemed very cut and dry.

I ruled out the textbook by Prentice Hall, because I currently use their algebra book and my students are routinely confused by the language the text uses. Plus it complicates virtually everything.

I ruled out yet another book that we have a sample copy of. It also seemed to complicate everything.

I went back to the NYS website and see that they recommend one of three books, each of which have published their own pacing calendar aligned to NYS standards. One of them I had never heard of: Discovering Geometry.

I looked up the book and found that it was an inquiry based approach textbook that encouraged hands on learning. I registered for an online review copy, and I was absolutely amazed by the chapters I looked through. The language was thoroughly readable and understandable. There were amazing pictures and interesting facts on every other page. And they weren't just thrown in for a few "real life connections" either; they were actually integrated into the learning thread itself.

I think I was completely sold when I opened up a random section and on the first page of the chapter it said "in your groups, have one member do..." The book is freaking geared towards group learning with actual projects in activities in each section!

So completely clueless and just basing my choice on a few random chapters, color photos, and instinct, I went ahead and told the secretary to order a school wide set of the textbook.

I figured I can't do any worse than I did this year. And if I really need to, I can supplement their text with photocopied problems from one of the crappy geometry books we have laying around, or with pages from the Barron's review book.

I'm really excited to get the text in hand and start planning for next year. I've been kind of torn about whether or not I want to move up to the 10th grade next year, but if this textbook is really as awesome as it seemed, it might make things much more bearable.


jd2718 said...

Careful that you actually get to all the topics that you should...

DG is the only non-traditional text that comes close to getting the job done right. Good luck.

Adelaide said...

thanks. i noticed that they tell you what topics you need to supplement in order to hit all of the NYS standards, and the list was rather large.

if i do end up teaching geometry next year, at least i will know from this year not to follow a textbook exactly and to do things my own way...