This blog post is the third in a special series I am dedicating to my coursebook series Boost! during the month of June. Boost! is a six-strand, four-level skills and integrated skills series made for learners aged 10-15.
You may have read (here on this blog and/or on a variety of others) about my rather "radical" idea to make major adjustments to coursebook formats by basically including more open space or even "blank pages." A couple of coursebook writer friends have even started making jokes about me, along the lines of the next ELT publication from Jason Renshaw being (drum roll, please...) a BLANK NOTEBOOK!
Well, while I would actually like to see more or even most coursework happening with purely learner selected and generated content, I do very much understand the complications this would involve in many contexts and teaching situations.
The screencast below demonstrates the hypothetical idea I've been pursuing - applied (as is only fair) to a unit from one of my own published coursebooks (Boost!). Please note that these are only my own private brainstorms and are not being considered by Boost!'s publisher (Pearson Longman) in any way, shape or form.
The overview of the hypothetical changes to the unit structure can be seen below:
And the demonstration of what these changes would mean in terms of new "open" space within the coursebook unit (highlighted in pink):
I've also included larger size images of what Model D (fully expanded with open "starting with you" and "finishing with you" pages at start and end, plus all the inserted "over to you" sections within the unit proper) below, in case you wanted to get a clearer idea of how all these open areas might work (and would "look") alongside regular coursebook content:
There are so many issues presented with changes like these to a regular coursebook format.
Aside from how exactly the space would be used (ranging from teacher led to highly learner-centred, and unit-supportive to unit unit-expansive), some key questions might be:
1. Would this just completely confuse and/or scare too many teachers (and perhaps learners, too)? If so, is it the sort of thing that could be helped along with appropriate teacher's guide notes, seminars, and demonstrations (including online ones)?
2. Is the inclusion of extra pages warranted and feasible?
3. Isn't this just doing what an extra notebook does or can do? (and if not, what essentially changes by having the extra space actually inserted into the coursebook proper?)
Anyway, some things to think about and discuss. Perhaps.
Oh, and if you have had a good look at the samples here, bothered to read down this far, and would like to know some of the ways I think these open spaces could be utilised and applied, please let me know in the comments section below. I would be happy to include a follow up post at a later date with some detailed suggestions and options!