Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Welcome to Online Textbooks

This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts. 

“I can’t find my textbook!” “I don’t remember getting a textbook.”  Does this sound familiar to you?  That is what I kept hearing at the end of every year.  Then I would have to go through a big hassle of collecting money from student to repurchase the outdated textbooks that I had.  I  hated having to worry about students losing textbooks or that I was always replacing textbooks that I didn’t even want that included too much information or not enough information.  Enter FlexBooks.  FlexBooks are online textbooks from a company called CK12.  I instantly liked them for many reasons, but the two big ones were that I could customize the book and that it could be posted on my website and downloaded by the students.  This video does a great job of explaining how they work.  While not every subject has a FlexBook they have a large list of books that include math and science books for middle and high school along with some other areas such as SAT Prep, History and Engineering.

So, this sounds good you say, but how can I really use it in my classroom?  I picked out a textbook that I wanted to use and then went through it to delete the things that don’t apply to my curriculum.  I also added in some information that wasn’t there that I wanted to make sure my students had in their book.  You can also include links to worksheets (CK12 has a workbook that goes along with most of their textbooks).  Once it’s created you can save it as a PDF and post it on a webpage or e-mail it to students.  Even better, students can put the PDF on their computers, phones, Kindles, IPads, Nooks or other eReader.  If you don’t want to customize your book you can find select FlexBooks already in Kindle or Nook/IPad/Android format.

Am I convincing you yet?  Maybe you want to make sure you have a teacher’s edition to refer to or a book or worksheets or labs.  Well, you got it!  Again, not every book has it, but all you have to is request a copy of the teacher’s edition and if it’s available they will send it to you.  The workbooks that are available are also customizable so can you make them fit your classroom.  I usually post them on my website and the students can have access to them all the time (no more “I lost it.”)

Looking for more?  CK12 has a more interactive way of presenting information that allows you pull short concepts along with chapters into an online interactive “book”  Many of the concepts include video clips and interactive quizzes.  It’s still a beta right now, but don’t let that stop you.

If you are an Algebra 1 teacher, FlexMath is another resource for you that provide more interactives for you and your students.  It’s more of an activities website than a textbook.
Lastly, CK12 has created I Need A Pencil.  It is great for those who are teaching an SAT prep class.  It has interactive lessons and practice test for students to work on.

About the Guest Blogger
Cristina Conciatori is a Biology and Chemistry teacher in New York. Cristina loves technology and is always looking for new ways to use technology to help her students. Connect with Cristina on Google+ and check out her blog: Tech Savy Science in the Clasroom.