Science Texts Are "E-Books" at Rowland

Science texts are e-books at Rowland
San Gabriel Valley Tribune (9/13/2007)
ROWLAND HEIGHTS - Sarah Smith loves her new science textbook because it has colorful pictures, detailed explanations and even games.
Smith, though, is not a student.
The fifth-grade teacher at Killian Elementary School, spent Tuesday afternoon in the role of student - learning how to navigate the new K-5 science curriculum, which includes having the textbook online in the form of an "E-book."
Over the last few weeks, all Rowland Unified K-5 teachers are undergoing the same training.
Switching between the teacher and student edition, Smith noticed several differences. For example, the teachers edition has more information, such as specific chapter vocabulary and concepts that will be reviewed in the margins.
The student edition is much simpler.
She was impressed that with the click of her mouse, she could have the text read to her or travel to a region damaged by a hurricane in the "Weather and Solar Systems" chapter.
"This is really good," Smith said. "Because this is online, some students will think it is a game."
Moving classwork and textbooks to cyberspace is not uncommon for Rowland Unified, though officials said that the concept is new to the elementary schools. Textbooks for the sixth through 12th grades are all online.
During the 2006-07 school year, the K-5 social science books were accessible through a Web site and a CD. The new science books, "California Science" will be available in the same formats, Fern Sheldon, K-12 curriculum specialist said.
There is no financial cost to having the varying formats, though if a CD is lost, it will cost $65 to $70 to replace - comparable to the price of one textbook.
In addition to not having to carry a heavy textbook, students can print out homework assignments, chapter vocabulary, and view lab experiments on their own time. For students not fluent in English, the audio text can be read in Spanish.
"The parents can also help their child by reading along or helping their student access the information," Sheldon said.
Mary Hamilton, a first-grade teacher, said young students would benefit from new formats, although they would need parent assistance in locating the right chapter and assignments.
First-grade students study basic science, including plant and animal life, but prior to the new science textbooks, Hamilton only had one copy of the book - and would have her students gather around her in a circle.
"Now each student will have their own copy of the book which will give them a sense of ownership," she said.
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*Photos shown are of RUSD teachers at Hurley Elementary and Farjardo Elementary during their science e-book training.