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Digital Textbooks That Integrate Formative Assessment

Tech-savvy Florida district adopts digital textbooks.
Discovery Education
The ideal way to use digital textbooks is in student groups.

For Collier County (Fla.) Public Schools, an urban district of 51 schools equipped with document cameras, interactive whiteboards, projectors and fiber-optic Internet connections in all classrooms, adopting digital textbooks made perfect sense.

After using Discovery Education products for the last decade, CCPS chose the company’s new series of digital textbooks, dubbed Techbook, for all elementary and middle school science classes. The digital textbooks were funded by cutting back to class sets of traditional textbooks. According to Curt Witthoff, curriculum coordinator for K12 science and environmental education, Techbook has the ability to build formative assessments quickly, administer them, and use the data to inform kids about what they need to do to master a concept, which is one reason CCPS chose this digital textbook.

“The formative piece gives teachers an opportunity to understand where students are, where misconceptions may be present, and how to scaffold learning to foster greater understanding,” says Traci Dami, director for instructional technology, professional development and media services.

Witthoff says that a common misconception is that only one-to-one districts can use digital textbooks effectively. “A digital program does not mean students should just be in front of a computer,” he explains. “It’s ideal for students to work in groups at stations—one activity on the projector, some kids working with computers on online activities, and other students working on offline activities.”