Jamie Goodwin

Teaching Textbooks in Engaging Ways

Teaching Textbooks in Engaging Ways -magoosh

Textbooks can be boring. Remember those class periods that you spent reading them aloud as a class? Or reading them on your own while taking notes? You swore that when you were a teacher you would never do that. Then, you became a teacher and reality set in. Sometimes you need to read from the textbook. So, how can you make this more exciting? Teaching textbooks in engaging ways is possible, but it takes planning. Here are 7 ideas for your consideration.

Choose Random Partner Pairings

Rather than reading through the textbook as a class or having students read it on their own, have students read in pairs. You could have them answer questions, complete a graphic organizer, or prepare a mini presentation. Make it fun by choosing the partners randomly. Use an app, draw names from a hat, etc.

Provide Choices

Let your students decide how they want to interact with the text by giving them choices. Provide different ways that they can respond to the material. Some examples could include writing a fake journal entry, filling out a graphic organizer, or creating quiz questions about the material with an answer key. Make a list for students to choose from, and then set them free to select one.

Make Real-Life Connections

It’s helpful to give students background information before reading the material. Assist them in making meaningful connections to the text, and help them understand how it applies today. What will students find interesting? Are there themes that students can relate to currently? Is there anything happening in the news that relates to it? Help students see these connections to make the material more interesting.

Use Outside Resources

Don’t let the textbook do all the work. Bring in other resources to make the material more interesting. Are there any songs, video clips, or other material that coincides with the information? Share it with your students to make it more memorable for them.

Collaborate on Note Taking

Taking notes on textbooks is a slow and monotonous process for many students. Make this task more interesting and memorable by working together. There are online resources and apps that you can use to collaborate on the note-taking process. They let you type notes and add videos, links, and pictures. Students can work together to create notes and write about the connections to their lives to share with the rest of the class.

Bring the Textbook to Life

Unfortunately, students probably don’t spend as much time reading as they do watching movies and YouTube or Vine clips. So why not let students create their own movies or video clips based on the reading material? Split students into groups, and ask them to write a script to teach the rest of the class about a particular section in the textbook.

Play Games

Your students may not like reading from their textbooks, but they do enjoy playing games. Give students time to prepare for a game by reading and studying the textbook. Then, test them on what they learned by playing games as a class. It can be a great motivator to get your students to read the material.

What methods have you used or seen other teachers use to make textbooks come alive? Share your tips for teaching textbooks in engaging ways below.


  • Jamie Goodwin

    Jamie graduated from Brigham Young University- Idaho with a degree in English Education. She spent several years teaching and tutoring students at the elementary, high school, and college level. She currently works as a contract writer and curriculum developer for online education courses. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her boys!

More from Magoosh