Overcoming Textbook Blahs in Biology

The problem with American textbooks is simple. Most textbooks are not engaging and may I say, even boring. Daniels and Zemelman state it well, “When we assign students to read pages 234–245 in the textbook and answer the questions at the end of the chapter, they hardly ever get on a bus and go share their learning with fellow citizens across town” (13). Even if students do read their textbooks and answer the questions at the end of the chapter, how much of the information is retained?

One solution is to incorporate articles, books, and other primary sources in the content area. I have used this in the beginning of my class time with a hook of a “Science Alert”, a new discovery in the field of science or an answer to a question a student had from the previous class. These articles are interesting and have a cool picture to go with them. I also have used Ted Talks or other videos from YouTube to introduce or reinforce the content we are covering. A fellow art teacher from a previous class introduced the idea of going on virtual tours of museums from around the world. I look forward to incorporating more interesting literature that will excite and engage my students in science.


Daniels & Zemelman. Subjects Matter, First Edition: Exceeding Standards Through Powerful Content-Area Reading, 2007 edition.


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