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Textbooks? Not for math and science

It’s time to shelve those old math and science textbooks.

Starting this school year, kindergarten through 5th grade students will use web-based. interactive materials – in lieu of textbooks -- and experience a whole new dimension of learning in those key subject areas.

As a sign of the changing times, PreK through 2nd-grade students will be equipped with Kindle Fire tablets and 3rd through 5th graders will work with netbooks in the classrooms.  For teachers, the new system will allow them access to lesson plans, daily teaching guidelines, educational resources by grade level and individualized instruction that meets the needs of each student, said Mrs. Tegria Jones, K-2 curriculum coordinator at the Southwest Campus.

“We are preparing the teachers to use the system for the next eight to 10 years,” said Mr. Manuel Ornelas, a representative for Pearson Texas, an educational resource company that is promoting the product. “For students, this comes naturally for them. It’s their world.”

Ornelas visited The Varnett Public School recently to show teachers how to navigate the new technology as they prepare for the opening of the 2014-15 school year on Monday, August 25.

With endless possibilities of learning, students will have access to a world where they can learn in both English or Spanish. The web-based materials will include everything that can be found in a science or math textbook, plus enhancements such as animation and apps for supplemental learning.

The curriculum will be in line with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills state standards as well as the Stanford 10 tests for kindergarten through 2nd graders and the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing requirements for 3rd through 5th graders.

Students will not be able to take home the Kindle Fire tablets or netbooks. Instead, they will do homework on their own computers or will be provided work sheets if they have no access to computers at home.

The added paperless features will enable students to learn to read through science and will give students a broader view of career opportunities through math and science, Ornelas said.

"What are the questions that scientists ask?" Ornelas asked rhetorically. "These features get the students to think like a scientist."

It’s all about reducing paper and enhancing the flexibility of student learning in a rapidly changing world.

“Dr. Cluff (Varnett’s superintendent) has given us all the resources we need,” said Ms. Greta Peacock, 3rd-5th grade curriculum coordinator at the Southwest Campus.

Middle Photo: Pearson Education representative Manuel Ornelas (middle photo) conducts teacher training on the application of web-based materials that will replace science and math textbooks for Kindergarten through 5th grade students.

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