Ideas to Put Some OOMPH in Your School’s Textbook Adoption

Ideas to Put Some OOMPH in Your School’s Textbook Adoption
Contributed By

Melissa Riggs

Education Technology Specialist, Falcon School District 49

Ideas to Put Some OOMPH in Your School’s Textbook Adoption

Posted in Community | July 05, 2017




See this? It took two trips in the school “wagon” to get the new ELA textbook adoption to my classroom. Can you tell I was less than thrilled about it?

Learn how to put some OOMPH in mandatory textbook teaching to the delight of your students at Melissa Riggs's Schoology NEXT 2017 session.

We weren't told we had to use it “with fidelity” and the principal was open about how it would take time to master a new adoption. I knew that the cost to our building would have paid off my mortgage, and I couldn't just let it sit and gather dust. I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount that I was supposed to cover in a 5 day unit, but at the same time I didn't want to have to build the curriculum from scratch after we had spent so much money.

I taught Kindergarten for 16 years and I never had a textbook adoption. When I was moved to 5th grade 6 years ago, I didn't even know how to use the teacher’s manual!  

But I did figure out how to get the most out of our new textbooks. I devised numerous ways to take uninteresting textbook activities and turn them into exciting learning experiences.

While I will go into all these ideas in detail during my NEXT session, I wanted to share a few of them with you that will help you put some OOMPH into your textbook lessons and activities.

Teach the Standards and the Textbook Lessons ... Creatively

Let’s be real. Most of the stories, spelling lists, vocabulary words, and activities are not that interesting for students.    

I started taking the standards and the textbook lesson and doing a little revamp. At first it was small changes.

Turning Autobiographical Sketches into Public Blog Posts



For this assignment, the students were to write an autobiographical sketch about 3 important events in their lives. The standard was focusing on the steps in the writing process and learning to use a timeline. My students created 3 paragraphs and used those as their first 3 blog posts for SeeSaw.

We talked about how this would be a way for other 5th grade bloggers to find out more about them and each paragraph could end with a “cliffhanger” to make sure readers came back to read their next post. Since we were connected around the globe, the excitement and interest in telling their stories motivated even my most reluctant writers. I didn't have to read 25 papers to know whether they had don a good job, I just had to check the number of “likes” and glance at the comments.

Spelling Doesn't Have to Involve Worksheets



Spelling was a set of 5 worksheets along with a pre and posttest of 20 new words and 5 review/challenge words.

The first week’s list included the word “jut”. When was the last time you heard a ten-year-old use the word “jut”? I don’t know if I’ve ever used the word. How was learning how to spell this word realistically going to positively impact students?

So I picked out the top 10 words of the 25 that I felt were the most useful to focus on. I varied the assignments from games (Spelling BAM was a class favorite) to Create Your Own Word Search (much harder than it sounds according to the students!). 

I gave the pretest on the first day of the new unit and offered students who received a 100% a pass from the posttest. For the posttest, I took my top 10 words and put them into 3 sentences. On the test, students had to correctly spell those 10 words along with any others in the sentences. They had to use correct punctuation and capitalization. Suddenly, the assignment became more than a meaningless list of words to be memorized and immediately forgotten.

Say Good-bye to the Busy Work (a.k.a. Worksheets) and Make Learning Meaningful and Purposeful


Alice Keeler is my hero! She makes me question what I do and what I think I should be doing. When I really started to see an excitement for learning (and a reduction in off-task behavior) was with activities that made learning fun and meaningful. My daughter always reminds me that if I don’t want to grade the assignment, students didn't want to do the assignment!

I’m excited to be speaking on this topic in July at Schoology NEXT. I’ll be sharing more ideas along with the interactive “to-do” list that made a big difference in enthusiasm while meeting the needs of both my low AND high learners. Let’s connect on Twitter (@RiggsRealWorld) and collaborate to change learning for the better!


About Melissa Rigg's Session

Using Schoology to Put "OOMPH" in Mandatory Textbook Teaching

Do you feel stifled by your school's textbook adoption? Are students less than excited by lessons that begin with "turn to page 5,000 in your book"? This year my building adopted a new reading program-the cost of which would have completely paid off my home mortgage. I wrestled with the above questions until December when I decided to take charge and created interactive "to-do" lists in Schoology. Student interest increased, lessons were easy to differentiate for a variety of levels and lesson planning became less of a chore. Join me as I take you through my journey including samples of plans and student outcomes. Bring your laptop and a teacher's manual to begin your journey putting "Umph" back in your textbook lessons!

In this session, attendees will:

  • See how Schoology can be used to make textbook learning more engaging 
  • Learn how to work smarter, not harder by creating unit lists that can be reused next year with minor tweaking 
  • Gather resources and gain new ideas


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