Textbooks, tools for lesson plans?

Textbooks are often scrutinized by those within the education community for being outdated and boring, while also being an ineffectual resource to use in a classroom. While many of the criticisms concerning why may be valid, a textbook, like any other tool, can be used effectively when paired with the right set of skills. Particularly, textbooks can be great resources for creating lesson plans and creating units. Since many textbooks often correspond to state or national standards, (Roberts, 2014), textbooks offer simplified guidelines for what units should consist of, give examples of what content "should" be taught in the class room, as well as offer multiple different uses of text that students can easily grasp.

The last point is of note to me because it can be utilized very easily to address a genre of social studies that is often times left on the back burner of lessons: geography. Most textbooks aimed at secondary education social studies have a plethora of maps and graphics that can help students better understand global context and awareness as to why certain events unfolded. The NCSS National Social Studies Standards for Geography (I:B:2- Geography) have a particular standard that asks to "challenge learners to examine how the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surfaces". With this i can ask questions pertaining to colonialism, revolution, imperialism, and independence. For example, i could use maps of Great Britain's empire over a period of time, either ones that i have found or ones sampled in textbooks, and ask students why the empire grew and shrank over time.