I just read two great blog posts. The first was Open Source Learning and the second was Open Source Learning (and The Anti-Textbook). Both articles present a good case for moving away from textbooks in education. In OSL the author really pushes the idea that the world is your teacher. Make learning real to make it stick. The AT article specifically speaks to the hardcover crutches that teachers use in their classrooms.
I read them after watching this:
Sometimes going off textbook doesn’t have to be complicated. In the video the greatest thing that the teacher did was to use big shapes on the asphalt. The large shapes allowed the kids to really gather around and argue about their measurements.
I took this idea and applied it to my class. I took an assignment from a math workbook, modified it slightly, and made it huge so that everyone could work in the problem. When students disagreed, they could get in there and really explain themselves and their points of view.
Going off text-book doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience. Teachers are reluctant to re-create wheels… but sometimes all it takes is to make something bigger or invite discussion into learning.