Adapted Use of Social Studies Textbooks in            Elementary Classrooms             Views of Classroom Teachers       ...
Woodward (1986) found that elementary social studies                                   (1985) have indicated that the succ...
ords indicate that 6% of the students are classified as eligi-                                              techniques. Be...
the four codes described above. These decontextualized                              the section on government in November ...
mation." Many of the teachers also valued the skills that                                                       The text i...
. . . We do reading silently first and then we                                           Several teachers used oral readin...
vocabulary understanding that would aid them in reading                                                 mented their use o...
test (Ms. Sanford, Grade 4). Ill have them                                     Ms. Swan discussed her use of mnemonic devi...
(e.g., sentence length or numbers of syllables per word).                                               ing textbook instr...
The findings from this study have implications for                                     Armbruster, B. B., & Ostertag, J . ...
national society for the study of education (Part I, pp. 1 5 9 - 1 8 4 ) .                             Will, M . C . ( 1 9...
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Bean zigmond Hartman-1994-Adapted Use of Social Studies Textbooks

  1. 1. Adapted Use of Social Studies Textbooks in Elementary Classrooms Views of Classroom Teachers RITA M. B E A N , N A O M I Z I G M O N D , A N D D O U G L A S K. H A R T M A NA B S T R A C T however, from teachers themselves on how they view the textbooks that are used in their classrooms and on how they T use these books, especially when they have students in their 1 WENTY-TWO CLASSROOM TEACHERS (GRADES 1 classes who experience difficulty in understanding textbookTHROUGH 7 ) WERE INTERVIEWED TO OBTAIN INFORMATION material. And, as more and more students with learningABOUT HOW THEY USE THEIR SOCIAL STUDIES TEXTBOOKS, difficulties are being placed in general education classroomsTHE PROBLEMS THEY EXPERIENCE, AND THEIR PERCEPTIONS as part of the full inclusion movement (National AssociationOF T H E STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF T H E TEXTS. of State Boards of Education, 1992; Will, 1986), the issue ofTEACHERS WERE ALSO ASKED TO DESCRIBE THE MODIFI- textbook use in social studies instruction becomes evenC A T I O N S OR A D A P T A T I O N S THEY M A D E TO H E L P STUDENTS more crucial.WHO MIGHT HAVE DIFFICULTY UNDERSTANDING T H E TEXT- The work reported in this paper is part of a largerBOOK. RESULTS INDICATED THAT ALTHOUGH TEACHERS study commissioned by the Office of Special EducationLIKED HAVING T H E TEXTBOOK AS A R E S O U R C E , THEY WERE Programs to investigate and influence social studies curricu-CONCERNED ABOUT CONTENT AND COMPREHENSIBILITY. lum and instruction for mainstreamed special educationTEACHERS TENDED TO SOLVE T H E PROBLEM OF TEXTBOOK students. This paper describes the perceptions of a group ofDIFFICULTY IN THREE WAYS: HELPING STUDENTS TO COPE elementary/middle school social studies teachers aboutWITH T H E TEXTBOOK, DEEMPHASIZING T H E TEXTBOOK, OR several textbook-related issues. In addition to analyzingREINFORCING AND EXTENDING TEXTBOOK INFORMATION. teachers views about the use of textbooks, problems they experience, and strengths and weaknesses of textbooks, we describe the modifications or adaptations teachers say they A make for students experiencing difficulties with social studies, especially as related to understanding text. JL J L l T H O U G H TEXTBOOKS ARE A PRIMARY Researchers who have focused their attention on theinstructional tool for teaching social studies in elementary study of textbooks have found them lacking in severaland middle school classrooms (Shaver, Davis, & Helburn, dimensions. Beck, McKeown, and Gromolls (1989) com-1980; Woodward, Elliot, & Nagel, 1986), there is a great prehensive examination of four widely used commercialdeal of criticism of these books, their content, instruc- social studies texts identified four problem areas: uncleartional design or presentation, and level of difficulty (Beck, content goals, assumed background knowledge, inadequateMcKeown, & Gromoll, 1989; Gagnon, 1987; Hoge, 1986; explanations, and poor presentations of content. Larkins,Sewall, 1987). This criticism tends to be based on analyses Hawkins, and Gilmore (1987) were highly critical of theof texts by researchers in the field of social studies or in content in primary social studies textbooks, calling it su-related fields such as reading. Little information is available, perficial, vacuous, and redundant. Tyson-Bernstein and R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994, Pages 216-226 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  2. 2. Woodward (1986) found that elementary social studies (1985) have indicated that the success of mainstreaming istextbooks gave bland, homogeneous, and insufficient treat- highly dependent on teachers ability and willingness toment to most topics. Elliot, Nagel, and Woodward (1985) make adaptations.found that the layouts and graphics in 10 published basal There is little information available, however, aboutsocial studies series textbooks were of high quality, but how teachers try to reconcile the textbook they use with thecontent, presentation, scope, and sequence were laden with varied abilities and experiences of their students, and aboutproblems. In fact, Elliot et al. observed that a social studies their views on the strengths or problems with the text-series was not really a series at all, but a collection of loosely books they use. Chall and Conard (1991), in their observa-related volumes. tions of 27 elementary classrooms, characterized teachers When Armbruster and Ostertag (1987) analyzed the use of social studies textbooks in three ways: directed-lessoninstructional and assessment questions found in contempo- approach, study-skills approach, and multiple resource ap-rary fourth- and fifth-grade social studies series of three proach, with lower grade teachers using directed lessonspublishers, they found a preponderance of lower cognitive- more frequently. Chall and Conard also reported that tolevel questions, implying that what really counted in social compensate for students experiencing difficulty with text-studies were names, definitions, and other facts, rather than books, teachers tended to eliminate the textbook altogether,meaningful learning of big ideas. Chall and Conard (1991) and "instead, they lecture, use pictures to demonstrate, orreported that the difficulty levels of social studies textbooks direct discussions" (p. 110). Chall and Conard believed thiswere substantially higher than those of basal reading texts for to be an unsatisfactory accommodation because studentsthe same grade, and in fact, the lower the grade, the more would not develop reading skills even though they mightdifficult the text relative to students reading ability. These learn some content. Stodolsky (1989), who also looked atcriticisms are broad, ranging from concerns about content ways that teachers used social studies texts, suggested that(too little, too much, or wrong choice) to comments about the nature of the texts as well as the nature of the subjectinstructional design or presentation within both the stu- matter may be related to variations in use.dents textbooks and teachers guides. Given the Regular Education Initiative (Will, 1986) and Yet, despite indictments from scholars, elementary/ the current emphasis on full-inclusion models that placemiddle school teachers of social studies tend to rely heavily students with learning disabilities into general educationon their textbooks as the primary source of instruction (Chall classrooms (Jenkins et al., 1994; Zigmond & Baker, 1990),& Conard, 1991; Shaver, 1989; Shaver et al., 1980). More- social studies teachers in elementary and middle schoolover, teachers seem to consider the textbook infallible, a grades find themselves working with students who present asource of knowledge provided by experts (McCutcheon, wide range of reading and cognitive abilities. In the present 1981). Gagnon (1987) noted that textbooks are "likely to study, we attempted to obtain more information aboutdetermine what teachers will seek to accomplish in their teachers views of social studies textbooks (their strengths ascourses . . . , tell the student what is important [and] what is well as their weaknesses), and how teachers say they adaptnot important. . . , and [are] taken as the final authority on textbook use for children who experience difficulty in themost matters" (p. 33). social studies classroom. Educators in the field of reading (e.g., Armbruster &Gudbrandsen, 1986; Conley, 1992; Vacca & Vacca, 1989) METHODand special education (Bos & Vaughan, 1988; Ciborowski,1992; Schumm & Strickler, 1991) have suggested many Sampledifferent ways in which teachers might modify textbook useso that these books can serve as effective tools for learning. To obtain information about teachers perceived use ofThese instructional suggestions range from techniques for textbooks, 22 teachers (Grades 1 through 7) from fourhelping students use the textbook more efficiently to ideas school districts were interviewed. The districts included onefor supplementing textbook use. Social studies educators suburban, one rural, and two urban districts (a large cityalso speak to the importance of using a variety of content- district and a smaller, middle-sized urban district). Theappropriate teaching methods, especially those that would suburban district is a predominantly white, middle classengage students actively in the learning process (Chapin & district located 10 miles north of a large northeastern metro-Messick, 1989; History-Social Science Framework, 1987). politan area. The district has a school population of 4,751Thus, in their view, the textbook, used alone, might result students with 6% identified as eligible for special narrow, restricted programs. Social studies educators call The rural district is a predominantly white, low to middlefor instruction that includes such techniques as coopera- class district of 2,687 students located approximately 4 0tive learning, inquiry learning, role playing, and simula- miles from a large northeastern metropolitan city. Approxi-tions (Chapin & Messick, 1989). mately 8% of the student body has been identified as eligible Regardless of discipline, experts stress the importance for special education.of teacher adaptations to accommodate individual differ- The large city district has a student population ofences. Indeed, Stainback, Stainback, Courtnage, and Jaben 40,000, of whom 50% are African American. Current rec- R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  3. 3. ords indicate that 6% of the students are classified as eligi- techniques. Before data were collected, these interviewersble for special education. The middle-sized urban district practiced a mock interview and conducted interviews withhas a student population of just over 5,000 students, ap- nonparticipating teachers. The results of these pilot ses-proximately 40% of whom are minority, primarily African sions were examined for numbers of probes asked and forAmerican. Eight percent of the school population is classi- the richness of data elicited. Protocols were revised tofied as eligible for special education. enhance clarity or provide additional probes. Once a final Although each of the four districts used a single, re- protocol was developed, teachers were contacted and inter-cently published textbook series, each used a series from a viewed at their schools. They were asked to be prepared todifferent major publishing company. The series was supple- share materials and discuss their instructional proceduresmented in three of the districts at either the third- or fourth- and beliefs. All interviews were audiotaped and notes weregrade level with a textbook on the state of Pennsylvania. taken by the interviewer. Interviews varied in length from 1Also, the urban district teachers used the districts own to I V 2 hours.curriculum materials about the city in Grade 3. In each of the four districts, we made a brief presenta- Analyzing the Datation to all of the elementary teachers in one school, discuss-ing the purpose of our project and requesting participation Full transcriptions of the interviews, along with field logsin several interviews and classroom observations from any prepared by the graduate student researchers, allowed forteacher who had at least 1 student with learning disabilities contextualization of the interviews. Transcriptions rangedmainstreamed into his or her social studies class. The 22 in length from 916 to 1,750 lines of text. Files were con-teachers who were interviewed were all those who agreed to verted for use with the software program Ethnograph (Seidel,participate in the study. They included 22 teachers in Grades 1988).1 through 7, with 7 teachers representing primary grades (1 Based on reading of a sample of the interviews, a codethrough 3), 8 teachers representing intermediate grades (4 book was developed and each of the codes was defined.or 5), and 7 teachers representing Grades 6 or 7. There were Interview texts were then coded into segments. For this4 males (all teaching at Grades 6 or 7) and 18 females; the study the following codes were relevant: Text, Instruction,mean number of years teaching was 18.1 years, with a range Special Education, and Adaptation. The code Text was usedfrom 3 to 33 years (see Table 1). when the teacher being interviewed made references to any text materials used by students or teachers, including text- books, trade books, periodicals, and reference books (e.g.,Procedure teacher would discuss the difficulty of the textbook or the INTERVIEWS. The interview protocol was developed to comprehensiveness of the teachers manual). The code In-elicit information on how elementary and middle school struction was defined as any discussion of approaches, strat-social studies teachers plan their curriculum, instruct their egies, or activities that teachers used to help students learnstudents, use their textbooks, and accommodate main- (e.g., project work, discussion, cooperative grouping, etc.).streamed students with learning disabilities or students with Special Education was used when the teacher made referencereading difficulties. (See Appendix for a list of the interview to students labeled as having learning disabilities or social-questions relevant to this study.) emotional disturbance. Adaptation was assigned to reflect Three graduate students were selected to administer any accommodations the teacher made to meet the needs ofthe interview. They included an experienced teacher, a individual students (e.g., adapting reading procedures, modi-student trained in psychological testing and interviewing fying assignments, etc.). We used a sorting procedure totechniques, and a student with experience in interviewing retrieve decontextualized segments of the 22 interviews by T A B L E 1. Distribution o f Teachers Interviewed Grade Suburban Rural Large urban Middle-size urban Total 1 1 1 2 1 1. 2 3 1 2 1 4 4 2 2 1 5 5 1 2 3 6 1 2 3 7 2 1 1 4 Total 9 5 4 5 22 R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  4. 4. the four codes described above. These decontextualized the section on government in November when elections aresegments were then searched for further refinement and held; Ms. Madison, a fourth-grade teacher, skipped to theidentification of key patterns. chapter on the Middle East during the Gulf War. We first addressed teachers use of textbooks, looking We found variation in the amount of material coveredfor what teachers said about the frequency and style of use. and the degree to which teachers added information to theSecond, we analyzed the data to identify teachers comments textbook. At least half of the teachers said they omittedabout the value of the textbooks and the problems that they sections of the text. Among the reasons given was the needexperienced in using them. Finally, we analyzed the tran- for curricular alignment; omitted chapters were often onscripts to determine how teachers adapted textbooks to topics not listed in the district curriculum guide or scheduledaccommodate individual differences and difficulties. to be taught again at a different grade level. Some teachers To assist in the analysis of data as to teacher accommo- indicated that they omitted topics that were covered in otherdation, we developed a framework of strategies or tech- subjects, like science or health.niques that could be used by teachers. The framework was Other teachers omitted or added topics because ofgenerated from current literature (Kameenui & Simmons, student interest, or because of their own interests or experi- 1990; Schumm & Strickler, 1991) and from the data with ences:which we were working. It includes four major categories bywhich teachers modify or adapt textbook use: teacher me- I use what kids are interested in . . . kids havediation (before, during, or after reading); substituting or been to the mountains; the plains are boringsupplementing the primary textbook; simplifying textbook (Ms. Gray, Grade 4).use for students; and reteaching or reviewing. These are I can take something and go with it the way Idescribed more fully in the Results section. want to, some subjects I do not cover as much To determine reliability of our coding, a graduate stu- . . . because I can see that it is not that interest-dent who was trained in using the code recoded a random ing for the children and I am losing [their]sample of 3 1 % of the complete interviews that had been interest (Ms. Balent, Grade 2 ) .previously coded. The percentage of agreement between theoriginal coder and the graduate student on segments re- I add information on Famous Americans; its nottrieved for use in this paper was 88.8%. really in our curriculum but I think its impor- tant. The children need to have a sense of how we were founded (Ms. Patrick, Grade 4 ) . RESULTS I have a lot of information on Mt. St. Helens . . .In our analyses, we focused on how teachers indicated that and Im going to throw that in, even though itsthey used textbooks, why they valued textbooks, and the not in my book . . . it was really fascinating . . .problems they experienced with their textbooks. Further, we I was there . . . brought back the dust. . . slidesanalyzed the transcripts to determine if there were patterns . . . and I want them to know about it (Ms. Gray,in the ways in which teachers modified or adapted instruc- Grade 4).tion or text use when students experienced difficulties un-derstanding the textbook. We provide exact comments from Our findings indicated that teachers were comfortable mov-teachers to illustrate findings; all names are pseudonyms to ing component parts of text around, but they did not changemaintain confidentiality. content within the components. In other words, teachers were willing to omit a specific chapter or to teach a chapterTeachers Use of Texts that was placed later in the textbook earlier in the school year, but they never mentioned modifying content within aThe textbook was a major resource tool for our teachers. chapter. They tended to see the text as immutable andNinety-one percent of the teachers reported using a single deferred to text as a closed entity, one not open to revisionbasal social studies text as the primary resource for planning or adaptation.instruction; only two of the four seventh-grade teachersindicated that they used multiple resources. As one ofthese teachers stated, "In that subject, it is not possible to Why Teachers Value Textsfind anything on the reading level for seventh graders" Teachers appeared to value textbooks because these mate-(Mr. Koffee, Grade 7). rials provide a guide for making decisions about curriculum Most of the teachers stated explicitly that they used the and instruction. Overwhelmingly, teachers saw organizationtextbook a great deal and that they tended to follow it as as the greatest strength of the textbook. Specifically,written because they saw no reason to change it. However, teachers commented that texts were organized with athree teachers changed the order of the presentation of "proper sequence of ideas," that is, chapters presented intopics or chapters to coincide with current events or holi- chronological order. Ms. Lee, a fifth-grade teacher, believeddays. For example, Ms. James, a third-grade teacher, covers the text gave her students "experience organizing infor- R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  5. 5. mation." Many of the teachers also valued the skills that The text is very d u l l . . . it is not enough people-were presented in the texts and stressed the advantage of oriented . , . you can read so much about athe text as a reference. Ms. Miles, Grade 4, admitted to pineapple plantation . . . its good from theskipping several chapters but assured us that she did not viewpoint of factual clear material, but lets putskip any skills. some more life into it (Ms. Madison, Grade 4). In talking about the strengths of texts, teachers identi-fied one or two chapters that they liked, or they mentioned Eight teachers wanted more content, but there wasthat the textbook provided a great deal of information about little consistency in their suggestions: Some wanted addi-certain topics. Individual teachers also commented on in- tional information on culture, others on their particularstructional features such as pictures, review questions, and state, still others on geography.maps. Finally, teachers discussed the advantages of the In contrast, seven teachers, all in intermediate or mid-worksheets and practice sheets that were provided with the dle grades, were concerned that there was far too muchtext series. Our findings indicated that teachers viewed content covered in one grade level. Closely related was thetextbooks and their accompanying material as important concern raised by Ms. Harris, a sixth-grade teacher, aboutresources that they would not want to do without. The the lack of development of ideas presented: "WWI andtextbook provided the organization for the content of the WWII are covered in one chapter!"curriculum materials and ideas for instruction.Problems Teachers Have with Texts Adaptation of Text-Based InstructionProblems with their textbook were mentioned by 9 1 % of the As summarized in Table 2, teachers reported using a wideteachers. Nine teachers (from third- through seventh- range of techniques to adapt text-based instruction, whichgrade levels) complained about what they called "readabil- we have summarized under four general approaches. In thisity," particularly for children with reading problems. They section, we describe each of these four general approaches;meant that vocabulary words were too difficult, or that too further, we provide specific comments from the teachersmany new words were presented: that explain or elaborate on why and how they used certain approaches. Reading the textbook is difficult. Its overwhelm- ing, its difficult. The vocabulary is difficult, TEACHER MEDIATION. We found that teachers used interesting but difficult (Ms. Toney, Grade 6). mediation techniques before, during, and after reading of the textbook. The most frequent focus before reading was to . . . overwhelmed because of the amount. . . the work with the vocabulary necessary to understand the text- size of the chapter . . . theyd rather close their book material. Most of the activities described were those eyes or put their heads down. Its too much that were suggested in teacher guides. Teachers said they (Mr. Sams, Grade 4). had students look up words in the glossary, write definitions, and talk about the words; a few teachers asked students to Three teachers specifically criticized the presentation keep vocabulary notebooks in which they wrote each word inof vocabulary. As Ms. Sanford, a fourth-grade teacher ex- a sentence. These procedures seemed consistent with teacherpressed it, "There are not sufficient ideas for the teacher [in views that the textbook chapters had too many difficultthe teachers manual] on how to teach or introduce words in words for students.the textbooks, given the difficulty of the concepts presented." However, most of the problems mentioned revolved All teachers described ways they had students read thearound content. Comments tended to be general rather than textbook. The most frequent technique was oral read-specific; that is, teachers did not criticize a specific unit or ing, which teachers believed provided assistance to stu-topic but addressed the textbook as a whole. Comments dents who were experiencing difficulty. Eight teachers usedranged widely, from several teachers expressing the view oral reading alone; eight teachers asked students to readthat their book covered too much, to those who wanted silently and then followed this with oral reading. For ex-"more meat." Five teachers felt that the text was "boring" ample, one fourth-grade teacher had students read silentlyfor children: for homework, and the next day asked the students to read the text orally in class. Other teachers had students silently read the chapter or section from beginning to Chapter 2 is something that is very dull and boring (Mr. Sams, Grade 4). end, then reread important sections orally in response to teacher questions. The children just dont care, they dont have any Each teacher appeared to have a rationale for using oral interest. . . its definitely not their favorite and reading, or oral reading in combination with silent reading. because its not their favorite, it ends up not For example, Ms. Sanford, Grade 4, emphasized students being my favorite (Ms. Miles, Grade 4). need to hear the vocabulary: R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  6. 6. . . . We do reading silently first and then we Several teachers used oral reading because of the diffi- always read it orally . . . we have to read orally culty of the text, especially for students with reading prob- just to hear the words and discuss (Ms. Sanford, lems: Grade 4). Oh, yes. We read the text orally together Ms. Toney, on the other hand, related reading orally to because the slower children dont understandthe abilities of her group. the words and cant read them . . . I usually say, "Read the page quickly" . . . and then well all My period 1 class is mostly an average to an read it together or maybe a couple volunteers above average class, so we spend more time on will read (Ms. Patrick, Grade 4 ) . silent reading. The second period . . . I have many LD students in that group. Now that If a paragraph is difficult. . . then I make sure reading is all done in class . . . read word for that we read it [orally] in the class. We dont just word . . . I cant assign any silent reading with start from the top of the page (Ms. Madison, that group (Ms. Toney, Grade 6). Grade 4). In all cases, teachers who used oral reading, either alone or in combination with silent reading, did so to "get the words out." Another strategy—used by nine teachers, some of TABLE 2. Teacher Use of Textbook Adaptation Approaches whom also used oral reading—was to have the students lis- ten to the teacher read the text: Teachers (N = 2 2 ) I usually do read out loud, everything. I found n % that if I dont my people who are not up to the reading level of the book, will not comprehendA. Teacher mediation of textbook i t . . . and we read everything again in class Before reading (Ms, Lakes, Grade 3). Prior knowledge 4 (18) They dont read the text at all. . . there is very Vocabulary 12 (55) little reading . . . if there is any reading to be During reading done, I read it to the class because of having Guided reading 7 (32) children such as the resource children or special Oral reading 8 (36) Oral/silent 8 (36) children who cannot read as well (Ms. Balent, Silent 2 (9) Grade 2). Taped text 2 (9) Reading, per se, out loud, no. Reading by me, Teacher reading 9 (41) yes. Not the students orally (Ms. Marks, After reading Grade 6). Discussion 9 (41) Grouping strategies 12 (55) Modifying assignment 4 (18) As the examples indicate, teachers read the text material to facilitate understanding when they believed students wouldB. Substitute/supplement text have difficulty reading the textbooks themselves. Additional texts 6 (27) One teacher explained that she spent a great deal of Games 10 (46) class time discussing a topic with students prior to any Nonprint materials/speakers 12 (55) textbook work. (maps, graphics) Notebooks 6 (27) Project experiences 19 (86) We read it after, after we were done [discussing Workbooks 22 (100) the topic], and then it made more sense . . . two years ago, I came up with this idea and decidedC. Simplifying text to see what happens. It was a shot in the dark, Rewrite 0 (0) but it was worth it because it paid off (Ms. Study guides/outlines 12 (55) Johns, Grade 3). Teach reading skills 7 (32) This teacher seemed to sense, intuitively and experientially,D. Reteaching/review 9 (41) the value of providing students with the prior knowledge and R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  7. 7. vocabulary understanding that would aid them in reading mented their use of the prescribed textbook. All the teachersand understanding their textbook. indicated that they used the workbook and study sheets that Only two teachers, both of them at upper levels, used were provided as part of their textbook series as a means ofsilent reading in their classes without any oral reading. One increasing student understanding. In addition, nonprintof them, a seventh-grade teacher, described a guided reading materials such as filmstrips, videos, pictures, and maps wereprocedure in which she asked a question and then had discussed as important supplements to the textbook.students read and locate the answer. Projects or hands-on experiences were mentioned as important techniques for adapting to student differences. I found that it works better if I make each Teachers believed that students benefited from having art, question and tell them what paragraph its in . . . drama, or language arts activities (including research papers) most of the questions at this point are bottom incorporated into social studies instruction. Ms. Miles, a level cognitive only . . . later on in the year, I try fourth-grade teacher, discussed a journal kept by her students to get them into some of the higher level in which they described the 5 days they spent in the land thinking skills (Ms. Rakes, Grade 7). of the Navajos. Other teachers described various art projects. The most comprehensive project-oriented approach Seven of the teachers discussed the use of a guided was described by Ms. Lakes, a Grade 3 teacher, for a unit onreading procedure similar to the one described by Ms. women. Each student read a biography of a famous woman,Rakes, in which they would ask students to read a small presented his or her woman to the class, and made asection of text and then highlight key concepts or facts that commercial to convince others that this woman was im-students should remember. portant. Students also drew pictures of women at work, These teachers, like those in other studies (Chall & developed a timeline to show how women dressed in variousConard, 1991; Stodolsky, 1989), reported using various time periods, and wrote invitations to a "special woman" tostrategies that required students to read the textbook. Many come to school to receive a gift. Ms. Lakes developed thisused oral reading in their instruction because they believed unit on her own; it was not in the textbook:that students would have difficulty with reading the textbooksilently. However, there were variations in how teachers I do have extra things that Ill do like t h a t . . . Iused oral reading, some more instructionally sound than too get tired of the book . . . and I try to think ofothers (e.g., silent before oral reading or teacher reading to some different things to do or some activitiesclass vs. round robin oral reading). that the children would really like (Ms. Lakes, Another approach mentioned by teachers as an adapta- Grade 3).tion strategy was grouping of students. Twelve teachers Several other teachers discussed projects similar to this one,discussed ways in which they used peer or cooperative but generally, the projects revolved around the units coveredgrouping: in the textbook. Another technique for increasing students understand- Cooperative grouping . . . put various ability ing of social studies text, mentioned by 10 teachers, was levels within a group . . . when we put one the use of games, especially games developed to increase youngster who is really very good with someone vocabulary understanding and acquisition. Teachers dis- who is not that good . . . so everyone . . . has cussed ways in which they presented definitions and had something valuable to contribute (Ms. Nichols, students identify the words (or vice versa); they also de- Grade 5). scribed the value of games as a motivational device: . . . Sit and listen to another student read a We play round robin where I call out a word and passage (Ms. Sams, Grade 4). they have to give a definition or we play Jeop- Ill usually pair them up with one of the brighter ardy. . . . Children have come up with other children and then as we are working Ill say to things; word finds, simple crossword puzzles the child . . . make sure that the other child is in (Ms. King, Grade 3). the right place or can do it, whatever (Ms. Two of the 10 teachers mentioned computer games as an Patrick, Grade 4). adaptation technique.A large percentage of teachers (41%) also stressed the value SIMPLIFYING TEXTBOOKS. Although no teachersof discussion as a means of promoting students understand- talked of rewriting materials for students, a number ofing, although their description of discussion tended to reflect teachers discussed ways in which they used study guides ora teacher-directed recitation model. outlines that would make textbook reading easier: SUBSTITUTE/SUPPLEMENT T E X T B O O K U S E . Ele- I make up a study guide that the students do, wementary teachers frequently used approaches that supple- check and then we can use these to study for the R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  8. 8. test (Ms. Sanford, Grade 4). Ill have them Ms. Swan discussed her use of mnemonic devices: outline that section. And just use that as a study guide with them (Mr. Joseph, Grade 5). Ill use a lot of mnemonic devices . . . like archaeology, Ill circle the a and the c, and Ill say If I have a particularly slow group, I have pages that archaeology is the study of ancient civiliza- where words were left out of the text, and tion . . . things like that (Ms. Swan, Grade 7). theyre always key ideas in the chapter. So [we] look at that chapter . . . those concepts are in Still others indicated that they reviewed information fre- darker print, and . . . more or less it is reinforced quently as a means of ensuring understanding. As one (Ms. Lakes, Grade 3). teacher commented, "I begin each lesson with a review using, You know, that lady from Californias idea." Several teachers highlighted textbook information prior These teachers seemed to be trying to make socialto its use. As stated by Ms. King, a third-grade teacher, "We studies meaningful and coherent by going over topics againtake it slowly, we have highlighted our books... we read both and again while at the same time creating student interestorally and silently . . . that way we focus on the important and connecting events or information to the everyday livesmaterial." of the students. In summary, teachers were cognizant of A smaller number of teachers specifically discussed the need for providing reinforcement of concepts andteaching reading skills using their social studies textbook. motivation for learning and for supplementing the textbookSeveral teachers described using the SQ3R strategy: with different activities as a means of enhancing under- standing. At the same time, a smaller number of teachers We use SQ3R . . . we turn every boldface emphasized the importance of teaching students how to sentence or phrase into a question . . . that is learn from the textbook. done routinely with the introduction of every new chapter (Ms. Marks, Grade 6). DISCUSSIONSeveral others talked about teaching their students how todo research reports, including how to use the library: Consistent with the findings of other researchers that social studies textbooks are a primary resource, the teachers in our We took them to the library and developed a study, as a group, reported that they relied a great deal upon step-by-step method on how to use the library their texts. However, unlike the scholars who study text- . . . what it is youre going to look up, how youre books and find them lacking, our teachers reported that, going to read through the information, how overall, they liked their textbooks. They considered the youre going to analyze the information (Mr. textbook to be a valuable information resource. Most used Koffee, Grade 7). the organization provided by the textbook to guide their curriculum and instructional activities. RETEACHING/REVIEW. Nine teachers commented on Our teachers, however, when pressed, did identifythe fact that they adjusted their rate of instruction (pacing) problems with the textbook, and those identified were simi-and retaught lessons to accommodate students who were lar to ones identified by scholars. The two most prevalentexperiencing difficulties with concepts that were presented problems highlighted by our teachers were related to contentin the text. To help us understand what teachers meant by and readability."reteaching," we searched the transcripts for explanations. Teacher comments about content were as far-rangingMost teachers seemed to mean that they took more time to as those discussed by researchers: too much, too little, or thecover a topic. But others meant that they used repetition or wrong choice. Primary teachers had much less to say aboutexplanation to help students transcend the lack of coherence content than the intermediate and middle grade teachers,or poor presentation in textbooks. For example, Ms. Gray who tended to be more concerned about the amount ofhelped students by pointing out rationales that would help information that was included in their textbooks. Althoughthem remember information: this lack of concern about content among primary teachers may reflect the nature of the content in primary textbooks, We repeat over and over and over. . . . If there it may also reflect the fact that these teachers are less are ideas that are real logical, I try to make them dependent on the textbook or that social studies is of less seem so logical that they are silly . . . Why the importance at that level. Delaware Indians were given the name the Although teachers were critical of textbook readability, Delaware Indians . . . they lived along the their meaning for the term readability was much broader Delaware River . . . well talk about how logical than the operational definition generally used in readability that is . . . helps them remember why something formulas. These teachers were not overly concerned about is called the way its called (Ms. Gray, Grade 4). the reading level of a book as determined by some formula R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  9. 9. (e.g., sentence length or numbers of syllables per word). ing textbook instruction. These teachers still relied on theRather, they felt that poor readers could not read or under- text as the basis for their selection of content, however.stand the text easily because texts contained a tremendous Finally, a small number of teachers discussed how theyamount of difficult content and too many technical vocabu- reinforced and extended textbook information using variouslary words. review and reteaching modifications. Most of these ideas So, what we find is that on the one hand, teachers valued involved repetition and additional exposures to ideas ratherhaving a textbook for social studies instruction: They could than more complex notions like providing more elaborateidentify what it provided for them in the way of information explanations or organizational strategies.and activities—and they said that they used it. On the other Only a few teachers discussed, in-depth, ways in whichhand, teachers also identified problems with textbooks, and they explained or elaborated upon difficult concepts as asome of their concerns were similar to the issues raised by means of helping students or how they adjusted the contentresearchers such as Beck et al. (1989) and Tyson-Bernstein of their instruction when topics or concepts were difficult forand Woodward (1986). Specifically, teachers concurred that students. Teachers talked about their reliance on textbooks,when textbooks lack coherence or present material in a bland and they talked about ways to get "around" the problems ofor homogeneous fashion, students may experience difficul- textbooks, but not many talked much about what they did toties in reading and understanding; further, bland and inco- make the textbook content more "user-friendly."herent texts may be considered boring by students and In summary, these 22 elementary and middle schoolteachers alike. teachers shared with us some very exciting ways in which Strategies teachers gave for adapting textbooks were they deemphasized textbook use and enriched the socialconsistent with the problems they identified in the texts. studies curriculum through the use of various projects,Teachers tended to solve the problem of textbook difficulty activities, and cooperative grouping strategies. On the otheror readability in three ways: helping students to cope with hand, their description of how they might help students copethe textbook, deemphasizing the textbook, or reinforcing with the textbook itself was more limited, as was theirand extending textbook information. description of how they could mediate and provide scaffolded One of the primary approaches for helping students instruction. This raises a question about whether students,cope with text was oral reading, used as an adaptive strategy especially students with reading difficulties, should be af-by almost every teacher. This strategy appears to be one that forded experiences that will enable them to learn to use thehas survived over time (Adams & Biddle, 1970). Stodolsky textbook as a tool for learning. In other words, although our(1988), in fact, found in her observations of social studies teachers may have provided opportunities that enabledthat the "most frequently occurring pattern was answering students to learn the social studies content, there wasand asking questions in the context of oral reading" (p. 48). less emphasis on helping students to become independentAlthough the use of oral reading as an adaptive strategy may helpful for enhancing student understanding of text, if it The fact that most of our teachers did not discuss waysis used consistently or as a single strategy it could also limit in which they explained or elaborated upon the informationopportunities for discussion and promote recitation-type in textbooks brings us to a discussion of limitations ofclasses, Further, some specific approaches to oral reading as our data collection procedure. Teachers may be doing moredescribed by the teachers were more instructionally sound than they said in these interviews. Further, some teach-than others, indicating a need to provide teachers with a ers who actually make adaptations may do so "on the fly"better understanding of how to use oral reading effectively. rather than in a preplanned manner and may not even Teachers who taught reading or study skills or used be conscious of the modifications they make that are relatedstudy guides as part of their social studies classes were also to understanding content. Also, although some teachers didhelping students to deal with difficult text material and describe adaptations, we cannot determine through thisseemed to be cognizant of the need to provide instruction research the frequency or extent to which they actually usedin social studies about how to read and understand a text- any of the accommodation strategies. Finally, we recognizebook. A large number of teachers also provided experiences that given our small sample of teachers, we cannot gen-with the difficult vocabulary of the textbook, and, in fact, eralize beyond our group.besides the oral reading and the direct teaching of studyskills, vocabulary work was one of the most frequentlycited approaches for assisting students with difficult IMPLICATIONSmaterial. However, the techniques described tended to bememorization-type activities. Our research indicates that teachers are using the textbook A number of teachers also deemphasized textbook use in teaching social studies to all students, including those whoby developing units that included various hands-on projects have special needs. Some teachers make adjustments in theirdesigned to create enthusiasm and to enhance learning of use of textbooks to help students learn more effectively;social studies content. They also used nonprint materials, others do very little. Not all of the adjustments made aresuch as filmstrips or videotapes, as a means of supplement- based on sound theories of learning. R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  10. 10. The findings from this study have implications for Armbruster, B. B., & Ostertag, J . (1987, April). Questions in elementaryspecial educators, who should be aware of what students science and social studies textbooks. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, Washington, D C .mainstreamed into general education classrooms might be Beck, I. L., McKeown, M., & Gromoll, E. W. ( 1 9 8 9 ) . Learning fromexperiencing, and for general education teachers who wish social studies texts. Cognition and Instruction, 6 ( 2 ) , 9 9 - 1 5 3 .to consider more systematically just how they are providing Bos, C . S., & Vaughan, S. ( 1 9 8 8 ) . Strategies for teaching students withfor the needs of students who have difficulty reading texts. learning and behavior problems. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Further, the study provides important information for Chapin, J . R., & Messick, R. G . ( 1 9 8 9 ) . Elementary social studies: A practical guide. New York: Longman.teacher educators, especially those involved with courses Chall, J . S., & Conard, S. S. ( 1 9 9 1 ) . Should textbooks challengerelated to teaching reading in the content areas. The results students? New York: Teachers College Press.suggest the need to present effective and appropriate ideas Ciborowski, J . ( 1 9 9 2 ) . Textbooks and the students who cant read them:and techniques for using informational textbooks in content A guide to teaching content. Boston: Brookline.subjects. The framework that we developed to analyze our Conley, M . W. ( 1 9 9 2 ) . Content reading instruction: A communication approach. New York: might also be helpful to both classroom teachers and Elliott, D. L., Nagel, K., & Woodward, A. ( 1 9 8 5 ) . D o textbooksteacher educators as a means of thinking about various belong in elementary social studies? Educational Leadership, 42(7),adaptation strategies. 21-28. Finally, our findings have heuristic value, thus helping Gagnon, P. ( 1 9 8 7 ) . Democracys untold story: What world historyus chart a course for further research. Foremost, it is essen- textbooks neglect. Washington, D C : American Federation of Teachers.tial that actual observations be made of teachers to deter- History-social science framework for California public schools. ( 1 9 8 7 ) .mine whether they are in fact using texts as they report they Sacramento: California State Board of Education.are. Further, we need to get a more accurate picture of how Hoge, J . D . ( 1 9 8 6 ) . Improving the use of elementary social studiesteachers make the various accommodations they describe textbooks. Bloomington, I N : E R I C Clearinghouse for Socialand to what degree, and whether teachers who do not talk Studies/Social Science Education. ( E R I C D o c u m e n t Repro- duction Service, E D 2 7 4 5 8 2 )about modifications actually implement modifications in Jenkins, J . R., Jewell, M., Leicester, N., OConnor, R., Jenkins,the course of their teaching. Such research will expand our L. M., & Troutner, N. M . ( 1 9 9 4 ) . Accommodations for individualunderstanding of how teachers use social studies texts and differences without classroom ability groups: An experiment inthe strategies and techniques that they engage to accommo- school restructuring. Exceptional Children, 60, 3 4 4 - 3 5 8 . Kameenui, E. J . , & Simmons, D . C . ( 1 9 9 0 ) . Designing instructionaldate the diversity in their classrooms. • strategies: The prevention of academic learning problems. Columbus, O H : Merrill. Larkins, A., Hawkins, M . , & G i l m o r e , A. ( 1 9 8 7 ) . Trivial andRITA M. BEAN, PhD, is currently professor in the Department of noninformative content of elementary social studies: A review ofInstruction and Learning and associate dean at the University of primary texts in four series. Theory and Research in SocialPittsburgh. She also directs the Reading Center and teaches courses Education, 15, 2 9 9 - 3 1 1 .in reading assessment and instruction. Her research interests include M c C u t c h e o n , G . ( 1 9 8 1 ) . Elementary school teachers planning forthe study of effective classroom and compensatory programs for social studies and other subjects. Theory and Research in Socialstudents with reading difficulties, t e x t b o o k use, and reading Education, 9, 4 5 - 6 6 .assessment. NAOMI ZIGMOND, P h D , is currently chair of the National Association of State Boards of Education. ( 1 9 9 2 ) . WinnersDepartment of Instruction and Learning at t h e University o f all: A call for inclusive schools. Alexandria, VA: Author.Pittsburgh and teaches doctoral level courses in research in special Schumm, J . S., & Strickler, K. ( 1 9 9 1 ) . Guidelines for adaptingeducation and in issues related to educational assessment. Her major content area textbooks: Keeping teachers and students content.research interest is in the development and evaluation of appropriate Intervention in School and Clinic, 27, 7 9 - 8 4 .and effective public school programs for elementary and secondary Seidel, J . ( 1 9 8 8 ) . The ethnograph: A users guide version 3 [Computerstudents with learning disabilities. DOUGLAS K. HARTMAN is an program]. Corvallis, O R : Qualis Research Associates.assistant professor in the Department of Instruction and Learning Sewall, G . T. ( 1 9 8 7 ) . American history textbooks: An assessment ofat the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests focus on quality. New York: Educational Excellence Network.teaching, learning, and textual materials from an intertextual Shaver, J . P. ( 1 9 8 9 , M a r c h ) . What is known about elementary schoolperspective. Address: Rita M . Bean, University of Pittsburgh, 5 T 2 3 social studies? Paper presented at the meeting o f the AmericanForbes Quadrangle, Pittsburgh, PA 1 5 2 6 0 . Educational Research Association, San Francisco. Shaver, J . P., Davis, O . L., Jr., & Helburn, S. W . ( 1 9 8 0 ) . AnAUTHORS NOTE interpretive report on the status of precollege social studies education based on three NSF-funded studies. In What are theResearch for this article was supported by Grant No. H 0 2 3 D 0 0 0 0 3 needs in precollege science, mathematics, and social science education?from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Views from the field (pp. 3 - 1 8 ) (Publication S E - 9 0 ) . Washington,Programs. D C : National Science Foundation. Stainback, W., Stainback, S., Courtnage, L., & Jaben, T. ( 1 9 8 5 ) . F a c i l i t a t i n g m a i n s t r e a m i n g by modifying t h e m a i n s t r e a m .REFERENCES Exceptional Children, 52, 1 4 4 - 1 5 2 .Adams, R. S., & Biddle, B. J . ( 1 9 7 0 ) . Realities of teaching: Explorations Stodolsky, S. ( 1 9 8 8 ) . The subject matters: Classroom activities in math with video tape. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. and social studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Armbruster, B. B., & Gudbrandsen, B . ( 1 9 8 6 ) . Reading c o m - Stodolsky, S. ( 1 9 8 9 ) . Is teaching really by the book? In P. Jackson prehension instruction in social studies programs. Reading Research & S. Haroutunian-Gordon (Eds.), From Socrates to software: The Quarterly, 21, 3 6 - 4 8 . teacher as text and the text as teacher. Eighty-eighth yearbook of the R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012
  11. 11. national society for the study of education (Part I, pp. 1 5 9 - 1 8 4 ) . Will, M . C . ( 1 9 8 6 ) . Educating children with learning problems: A Chicago: University o f Chicago Press. shared responsibility. Exceptional Children, 52, 4 1 1 - 4 1 5 .Tyson-Bernstein, H., & Woodward, A. ( 1 9 8 6 ) . The great textbook Woodward, A., Elliot, D . L., & Nagel, K. C . ( 1 9 8 6 ) . Beyond machine and prospects for reform. Social Education, 50(1), textbooks in elementary social studies. Social Education, 50(1), 41-45. 50-53.Vacca, R. T., & Vacca, J . L. ( 1 9 8 9 ) . Content area reading. Glenview, Zigmond, N., & Baker, J . ( 1 9 9 0 ) . Project M E L D : A preliminary IL: Scott-Foresman. report. Exceptional Children, 57, 1 7 6 - 1 8 5 . APPENDIX SELECTED INTERVIEW QUESTIONSWhat is taught? Tell me about your social studies curriculum. Look at the "Table of Contents" in your social studies textbook/curriculum guide. What chapter/topics do you cover? In what order do you cover the chapters/topics? Why do you follow that particular order? Do you omit any chapters/topics/skills? If so, which? Why do you omit those chapters/topics/skills? Do you add any topics? Skills? If so, which? Why do you add those topics? Skills? What do you see as the strength(s) of the textbook you now use? Why do you see those as strengths? What do you see as the weakness(es) of the textbook you now use? Why do you see those as weaknesses? Are there different expectations or requirements for different students? If so, pick a couple of students and tell me how your instructional/assessment expectations vary for each student.How is it taught? What types of assignments do you give students? How do you individualize instruction?Who is taught? What kinds of problems do your students have in social studies? How do you deal with this problem? R E M E D I A L A N D S P E C I A L E D U C A T I O N Volume 15, Number 4, July 1994 Downloaded from at MICHIGAN STATE UNIV LIBRARIES on January 17, 2012