Friday, January 23, 2009

Rigorous, Honors-Level Textbook Question

Diane sent me the following question, which I thought I would post to solicit more suggestions:
I teach in Northbridge, MA and we are in the middle of a textbook debate. For many years, we have been teaching our Algebra I and II Honors classes using Dolciani, Graham, Swanson and Charron (ISBN: 0395535891 and 0395535921). We have found these books to be quite good at preparing our students, especially those who will go on to AP Calc. These books, however, are quite outdated (i.e. ,copyright 1992, not online, no electronic resources, etc.) Two years ago, the district purchased the 2007 McDougal Littell series for Algebra I, II and Geometry. In our district, Algebra I and II can be taken either at the middle school or the high school. The middle school has made the switch to teach entirely out of the new series of books. At the high school, we are reluctant to make the switch because the new books are not a difficult and rigorous as the old. The are great for the college prep level but not for the honors level.

I don't know if you are familiar with either of these books but my question to you is this: Do you know of a newer book that is appropriate for the honors level students? I have done some research and am not finding anything quite as rigorous. I am fine with making the switch to the new text if I could supplement with the old but most assignments that I would want to give would be 25% from the new book and 75% from the old. This to me is not supplementing with the old but rather supplementing with the new.
I told her that my old school district had gone through textbook adoption two years ago, and that most of the books were very similar, including the 2007 McDougal Littell books. If she dug deeper into the supplemental materials including with the newer book, they tend to have more challenging versions of the same assignments available (not to mention extensions and projects).

The other option I gave her was Key Curriculum Press textbooks, which were the only ones we never seriously considered. They seemed far too rigorous for the majority of our students, but for upper level honors classes, it might be a great option.

I'm hoping the wisdom of the crowd can give Diane a few more options to bring back to her district. Leave your suggestions in the comments. Thank you!