Students Reading Decades-Old Biology Books
School district planning textbook upgrade
ANCHORAGE - As a biology teacher for the past nine years at East High School, Kelly Auer has become used to researching her own lesson plans and teaching materials.
"The materials in those books are at least 15 to 20 years old,” said Auer, pointing to a stack of old biology texts, some falling apart, in her classroom.
"Those books will go weeks without being used,” she said.
Most of the textbooks prescribed by the Anchorage School District for biology were printed in 1999, and the contents are much older.
“One day we may sequence the human genome,” Auer said, referring to one of the old books.
“We just celebrated the 10th anniversary of it," she said with a laugh.
Auer is hoping a plan by the Anchorage School District to provide new biology materials will free up some of the time she spends devising lesson plans from scratch.
And she’ll be able to send students home with books without worrying they’ll learn outdated science.
“It can be very frustrating as a teacher, because you can't send a kid to that book for current information,” said Auer.
Mike Fenster is the ASD’s curriculum coordinator for science, technology, engineering and math.
He says there’s an obvious need for new books.
“In some cases [the material] is wrong, the books are falling apart, many books don't have covers, there are not necessary enough books for all the students,” said Fenster.
That’s what he’s been telling the school board, which approved money for new biology materials to be introduced by next school year.
Teacher Kelly Auer has her own vision for the new materials.
“I would love to see digital access, so online resources that are always up to date," she said.
Fenster agrees with moving some aspects of learning and teaching online.
“For biology, being the most rapidly changing science, there is at the cellular level I think the idea of being able to refresh very quickly, rather than waiting another 10, 12, 15 years for another [new text], is a better way to serve our students,” said Fenster.
High school biology teachers have selected the contents of new books and possible online material that parents, students and the community can review on Tuesday November 13.