The Castro Valley School Board expects to approve new biology and chemistry textbooks for the 2021-2022 school year. Published by Savvas and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, they align with the state’s new common core standards. This comes as the science department has not had new textbooks in over a decade.
“There is a push to incorporate more science and engineering practices,” said Lauren Baiocchi, a science teacher on special assignment. “[The books] have kids actually learn skills that scientists use like data analysis, arguing from evidence and computational thinking,” added Baiocchi.
The State Board of Education approved a new set of guidelines for public schools in 2013, requiring schools to adopt new science textbooks. These new standards go deeper into certain content and incorporate more earth science in chemistry and biology classes.
In addition to physical copies, all the new textbooks include an interactive portal for students. This portal not only includes an electronic version of the text with videos and moving graphics, but includes interactive assignments. Teachers can easily integrate the online portal for the textbooks into their Google Classrooms. Additionally, there are interactive virtual labs for students to learn from and even an augmented reality feature that lets students view certain concepts.
“There are a lot more digital capabilities for these new textbooks, which is great, especially now that students are now one to one with Chromebooks,” said Baiocchi.
Currently, the chemistry department is piloting the different texts from the two publishers.
“We are looking for a book that is very interactive and tells things that are interesting about chemistry,” said science teacher Rebecca Moore. However, her students have run into some issues with the online portal with the Savvas textbook. “There have been problems with the website,” added Moore.
The biology department has finished piloting textbooks and has settled on the Savvas version.
“Savaas in biology was excellent. Things were super engaging, and I loved it,” said Moore.
Students find videos would be helpful in learning chemistry.
“I’d consider myself a visual learner and videos give me a better grasp on what is being taught and how it can be used in the real world,” said sophomore Jennifer Mi. However, Mi would prefer physical textbooks. “Any options for physical materials is definitely more attractive to me,” stated Mi.
Once approved, teachers will be able to access and plan for the next school year using the textbooks. These next-generation textbooks have already been in use at other schools, including San Lorenzo High School and Acalanes High School.
The new textbooks will ring in a new era for science classes.