By the students, for the students. We want to be relatable, and we want to accurately represent the students of HISD. Anyone can submit – see the sidebar to learn how. Powered by the HISD Student Congress.
Lizi Xiong, Bellaire, 2017
Thanks for giving us our laptops. Really, thank you. The laptops are a great tool in the classroom and at home.
With that being said, where are our textbooks?
With the new PowerUp initiative, everything has been digitized to the HUB. Unfortunately, the HUB frequently crashes as thousands of students around the school district attempt to access the same website at the same time. This is a huge issue as eBooks are all on the HUB. Only AP classes assign print textbooks; College Board requires print textbooks be assigned as part of the AP curriculum.
I have listed flaws in the new textbook policies:
1. Teachers are prohibited from receiving classroom copy of print textbooks.
HISD is working to transition into a fully digital era. Quite unfortunately, this has prohibited publishers from giving print textbooks to teachers as a classroom set. The vast majority of students prefer having a print copy of the textbooks available. History textbooks with large pictures, diagrams, and maps are not as easily viewed in eBook format.
2. Teachers must purchase their books from their own paychecks.
If teachers wish to have a hard copy of the book they are teaching from, they must buy the books with their own money. For example, my AP Calculus book has an Amazon online tag of over $270.
3. New teachers without degrees must teach without readings in textbook. They are provided only supplementary material.
AP-level courses are often taught by teachers with many years of experience as well as with a graduate degree. New teachers are often delegated to teach students in lower-level courses. This proves especially difficult when the teacher is unable to teach material from a formal textbook. Instead, the teacher must use a conglomerate of supplementary materials, none of which provide an in-depth understanding. The students that need the most help are the ones not receiving formal textbooks.
4. The classrooms in Pin Oak do not have a complete classroom set for every student.
Pin Oak Middle School is the last of the Power-Up Schools. It does not have enough print copies of textbooks, even though laptops have not been distributed. This in between period leaves students with neither the electronic nor print information. Without proper resources, the students are unable to maximize their time to learn.
5. There are homes that do not have an internet connection.
My high school’s library closes at 4:30 p.m. on every day except for Friday, which is 4:00 p.m. The public libraries close at 6:00 p.m., or 8:00 p.m. Some students who work do not have the luxury of library Wi-Fi access as the library is closed after work hours. The majority of working students are not able to access public wifi to do their homework for this reason. This discourages working students from taking classes that require an internet connection.
6. None of the freshmen have textbooks; a school needs textbooks.
A school is a place to learn. Unfortunately, many of the freshmen have not developed strong study skills before freshman year. Freshmen at my high school rarely take AP courses. This leaves zero books for the freshmen class. Freshmen have not yet come to fully appreciate technology as a tool. Instead, freshmen may see the laptop as an extension of gaming and distraction.
Issues with the complete digital era are:
1. Our fine motor skills in our hands are not as developed as the students from the decade before.
We lose muscles that we don’t exercise. In middle school, I had imagined myself hand-writing five pages for every high school essay. I trained myself to write with my left-hand to relieve my right hand’s burden. Thankfully, I have very rarely had to hand-write an essay that’s five pages long. Oddly enough, I find my right hand cramping after writing one page of an essay. In middle school, I could write three pages of an essay without a problem. Much of my essays are typed instead of handwritten. Psychologically speaking, object permanence when using writing utensils create a deeper impression than when typing on a keyboard. It has been tested and proven that people remember details more when we hand-write a note.
2. Eye problems occur from too much screen time.
The amount of screen time in a day has a strong correlation with the amount of vision problems. I have bought countless bottles of eye drops to re-wet my eyes after a long study session. Not only is this irritating, but I will suffer from lifelong consequences of vision impairment.
3. Technology is distracting.
I can personally attest that I focus much better without the temptation of opening another window. Students often procrastinate during class when there is a substitute teacher. The substitute teacher often does not care enough to check if the student is on task. Students should not be off task, but there is a great deal of temptation when the teacher is not there to assist the student.
In short, I believe that there needs to be a revisions in the textbook and digital policies. I propose the following: