Ditch That Textbook to Free Your Teaching
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
The focus of Ditch That Textbook is helping teachers to reflect on their current practice and find better ways to make a difference in the lives of the students that they teach. DITCH is an acronym for Different, Innovative, Tech-laden, Creative and Hands-on.
While the book spends a lot of time discussing possible tech solutions to teaching activities, Miller also makes it clear that the use of tech should be to improve teaching and learning and not just to include the latest tools and gadgets in the classroom.
The emphasis here is really about how teachers can better prepare students for the real world, which will include jobs that are not yet created, versus the now-abandoned work of the industrial revolution that many schools, texts and curriculum still seem to be entrenched in.
Miller suggests we rethink these traditional positions to help our students. He states that effective teaching emerges when we personalize the learning; make it relevant, fun and engaging; and work to build relationships with our students. (Not surprisingly, Miller’s book is part of the family of books published by “Teach Like a Pirate” author Dave Burgess.)
Miller suggests that we think outside the text and the curriculum (using tech to transform our teaching) to help our students take ownership of their learning. He further notes that the greatest student motivation comes from autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Because owners tend to put more effort and care into their “homes” than do renters, helping students to take ownership of their learning rather than renting space in our classes will also help them to achieve.
The book is written in short, concise chapters with lots of QR codes that link to additional lists, resources, supports, and even an ebook.
Miller also asks teachers to develop a professional mission and to take action, one step at a time, and not to be overwhelmed with all of the possibilities. He suggests that we keep our priorities in order and assure balance in our lives rather than beating ourselves up when things don’t go as we planned. He defines FAIL as “First Attempt in Learning.” In a recent Twitter chat a participant added EPIC (expecting perfection is crazy) to it — a quote I will put in my room.
Miller concludes his book with suggestions on how to get started and states, “You were inspired to teach because you wanted to make a difference. Yes, making a difference is messy and complicated. Do it anyway. . . . Go out on a limb because that’s where the fruit is.” (p.218-219). Inspiring words to get us started on DITCHing the current status quo of education, to do what we always intended to do: Make a difference.
Definitely worth the read.
Dr. Laura Von Staden (@docvs1) is a Middle School Special Education teacher/leader in Tampa, Florida. She works on numerous committees and projects within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and master mentor. She facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development for her school district and participates in several twitter PLNs.