The School Zone invited all nine members of Buffalo's Board of Education to share with readers what they learned at the conferences they attended this fall. We'll post the responses in the order they come in.
Lou Petrucci, who represents the Park District, was the first to respond, sharing his thoughts on a few topics. Today, we're posting Lou's thoughts on the latest in textbooks, which he learned at the New York State School Boards Association conference in New York City:
"Most people ask themselves what is the benefit to attending a trade show and listening to the assorted sales pitches of the various vendors. For a board member, it provides the opportunity to see new and innovative products. It provides a point of comparison between how your district operates and how the district may function in the future.
"With respect to vendors, I had opportunity to listen to the latest in technology from Houghton Mifflin. Their newest innovation was the textbook as an application for an iPad or similar touch-screen device. This is presently being tested in school districts in California.
"An electronic textbook has a variety of advantages. There are no printing costs. The book can be readily updated and customized. As a parent of four children, I know all too well the weight of a book bag full of texts.
"The electronic version also has a series of links to video, reference, and other related supporting material. My one daughter is presently taking trigonometry. There are evenings when she literally has an open textbook next to the laptop where she is researching help for the question, and has her calculator going, also. An electronic textbook would combine and simplify the present system.
"The other interesting conversation was that Houghton Mifflin could customize a textbook for a region. For example, you are studying American history. HM could customize the textbook to incorporate Buffalo and Western New York’s individual contribution to that aspect. You are studying the impact of the automobile on America. Your textbook could talk about the Buffalo Electric Vehicle Company or the Pierce Arrow Company. The potential to make history more engaging by linking it to local sites was deserving of further conversation, in my opinion."
- Mary Pasciak