As you know, I work with ELL students who have problems reading
the textbook fully. They have not been
taught the skills needed to read a textbook so I have to take time to do
it. I recently came across a book titled
“Differentiating Textbooks” by Char Forsten, Jim Grant, and Betty Hollis.

Until I’d run across this book, I’d never heard of
differentiating textbooks. The only
method I know to use when reading a textbook, especially a math textbook is
what I learned back in high school. We
just read it. In college, I learned to
go over examples but not to do much more.

This book has so much information from grouping students to
creating smaller books to techniques and graphic organizers.

I like a couple suggestions made by the authors in chapter two on
selecting and adapting textbooks. I do
not have time to create new textbooks but I like the suggestion of substituting
headings and subheadings in the form of questions. This simple move requires students to find
the answer to the questions.

They also suggest that students circle and box their math
problems because this helps reduce on careless errors. They suggest circling one type of problem
while boxing another type of problem so as to distinguish between the two. Students work all the circle ones first and
the other ones second.

The rest of the book is divided into pre-reading, reading, and
post reading strategies with examples.
One of the pre-reading strategies is the Clear Up Math Visuals one. It is suggested that students had the word
problem and then together decide on the visuals one should use to represent the
problem. This is one I need to use with
my students. Its perfect and has them
taking more ownership of their work.

A during reading strategy which resonates with me is called Power
Thinking. Students use powers to
indicate main idea down to details all on the same idea. So Power 1 is the big thought such as
sports. Power 2 might be Wrestling while
Power 3 names some of the wrestlers they see on television. Another Power 2 could be Basket Ball while
the Power 3 could be the teams.

In math it might look like Power 1 is exponents. Power 2 might be positive exponents, Power 3
could be examples. So over all it could appear like this:

Power 1 Exponents.

Power 2 -
Positive

Power
3 - Makes the result bigger.

Power 2 -
Rational

Power
3 - Seen as Fractions

Power
3 - Represents roots.

Power 2 -
Negative

Power
3 - represents fractions

Power
3 - numbers get smaller.

This is a nice way to summarize the material.

For the after reading strategy, you might try three facts and a
fib where people create groups of four facts but only three are true. The other people have to determine which is
wrong. This one could easily be used in
math. For instance:

A pentagon is made up of 3 triangles.

A hexagon is made up of 5 triangles.

A decagon is made up of 8 triangles.

A octagon is made up of 6 triangles.

A student has to decide which one is wrong.

Although not all of the suggestions can easily be used in math,
there are enough suggestions that I can use in the classroom to make this worth
it. I would also say that this book is not so much about differentiating the
textbooks as giving students additional reading strategies they can apply.