In rank order, my five most important criteria to use in selecting materials are content, content explication, student activities and assignment, teacher materials (guide or manual), and physical characteristics. Textbook selection committees should discuss and analyze the criteria needed to choose an efficient textbook for both the students and the teachers. There are many items needing to be considered. Our school district has been in the process of searching for new textbooks in both science and mathematics in order to represent the updated Common Core Standards. When selecting mathematics textbooks, the first criteria that should be considered are the content. Content is the basis of any textbook. For math, it is appropriate to have a range of opportunities to problem solve and learn problem-solving strategies. Our 8th grade textbook provides a vast array of realistic and everyday situations, which allows students to notice that they will use math in their life.
Teachers want a textbook that has an array of content. For middle school math, students need opportunities for understanding estimation, computation of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, integers, ratios, geometry, measurement, reading tables and graphs, statistics and probability, and algebraic expressions. Our current textbooks relate math with science, art, and social studies, which allows us to work with teachers of other content areas in order for students to get an array of opportunities to master a concept. Lessons need to begin with open-ended problem situations that interest and challenge students and provide opportunities for students to work in groups to solve problems using various representations. Activities need to allow students to decide what types of calculations need to occur. Many textbooks have separate sections for each type of calculation. Students need to realize when it is appropriate to add, subtract, multiply, or divide based on the given situation.