Instructors test out teaching material

This year’s chemistry classes used three different textbooks to find the one with the best curriculum.

After ten years of utilizing the same materials, Diamond Bar High School regular and Honors chemistry classes are piloting new textbooks.  

Since the beginning of this school year, science teachers Jennifer Bravo and Jose Marquez have been working with Walnut High School teachers to test three textbooks: “Inspire Chemistry,” “Experience Chemistry Volume 1” and “Experience Chemistry Volume 2.”

“We go back and meet up with the district and give our feedback, and ultimately, we give a recommendation to the board about what book to adopt,” Bravo said.

The classes began the year with the same textbook that has been used for the past decade, “Chemistry: Matter and Change” for Honors Chemistry and “Chemistry” for regular Chemistry, and slowly checked out the new textbooks throughout the school year. Bravo and Marquez decided to use this method in order to see how well the new textbooks can be integrated into their classes.

“The whole point of the pilot process is that you can look at the book, and it’s great, but you don’t know how well it works out with you and your students until you work with it,” Bravo said.

The new textbooks’ biggest deviation from the old counterpart is their integration of technology. The online resources available to students include videos, review material and automatically graded tests.

“Kids also have access to it on their phones, so you don’t have to carry your book around,” Marquez said.

Despite the accessibility of the digital material, classes have experienced obstacles utilizing it.

“The bad part is that it’s all based on the reliability of the infrastructure of technology, especially on campus, so like if the computers are working or if the WiFi is working,” Marquez said.

Fusing technology with traditional curriculum has been a recent trend, as state testing is also conducted online now.

“I think it’s a step towards the future. Whether it’s in the right or wrong direction, it really depends on what the student is willing to put into it and also the quality of the instructions,” Marquez said.

However, using the new textbooks has forced both teachers to change their curriculum.

 “At times this year, I almost felt like a new teacher,” Bravo said. “Trying to incorporate these new resources has been a lot more lesson planning than I’ve done in the last few years, and it has helped me with some of the topics in a fresher perspective.”

Yet, according to Marquez, the pair have been teaching the same content as before.

“The content is the same, but there’s a little more effort because you want to make sure that the things that you have to teach align with the different sections in the book so that a student can go back,” Marquez said.

According to Bravo, the Walnut Valley Unified School District hopes to purchase new chemistry textbooks for both DBHS and WHS by next school year.