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  • Local Teachers, Librarians Find Goodies on Curriculum Lab's Shelves

    By VIC COX

    Last July and August the usually quiet, first-floor section of Davidson Library occupied by the Curriculum Laboratory bustled with visitors as the lab staged one of its instructional materials give-aways. Local teachers and librarians mixed with students from the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education to pick through the stuffed shelves and packed tabletops. They sought free textbooks, teacher guides, videos, CDs, and a variety of visual aids that could be used in elementary and middle school classes.
    "The give-aways are famous," said Janie Pinterits, a graduate student who described herself as a "psychologist-in-training." "These manipulatives are incredibly expensive," she commented as she placed brightly colored sets of 10 miniature blocks into her box. Such items are used with hands-on instruction to convey the concept of numbers to young children.
    On the other end of the student spectrum, Lucia Preciado-White, who runs adult classes in Solvang, selected visual aids that showed the meaning of words. "We can have fun with these," explained Preciado-White, a teacher of English as a Second Language.
    Jim White, a safety specialist with UCSB Environmental Health and Safety, smiled gamely and stuffed his mother's choices into a bag . Visitors were limited to 10 items apiece, and Preciado-White doubled her haul by bringing her son with her. A number of savvy visitors pursued that strategy.
    In addition to housing a permanent collection of state-approved K-12 instructional materials for area teachers and teachers-to-be, the library's Curriculum Lab is a display center for publishers of K-8 level textbooks and supplementary tools under consideration for state adoption. One of 26 such centers throughout California, it primarily serves Santa Barbara County and is one of the few in a university library.
    Many of the items given away last summer were previously accepted materials in reading and language arts that were being superceded by newly adopted curriculums; others were publishers' samples that, while never approved for official purchase, were still valuable to teachers. "They've got some good ideas here," said Laura Madsen, a librarian for Cleveland Elementary School, as she flipped through a writing kit.
    "Teachers will spend a lot of their own money on instructional materials," said Lorna Lueck, head of the lab. "We're happy to share these materials with them." It is a mutually beneficial relationship since the lab's limited space requires that older articles periodically make way for the new. Lueck said the next shelf-cleaning will probably be the summer of 2002.
    Publishers, who are invited to participate, also benefit because the UCSB lab and its counterparts give them a showcase for their products where all compete on an equal footing. This is valuable in large markets with strict guidelines for textbook approval.
    In California, Lueck explained, getting a textbook or supplemental materials approved for local school district consideration starts with the state Department of Education adopting subject matter standards for student performance and establishing a framework for teaching content in various areas, such as reading and language arts. Adherence to these content standards and frameworks is encouraged by state control of the purse strings and a review process that produces approved texts.
    "About 70 percent of state instructional materials funding has to be spent on state-approved materials," said Lueck, who was in a similar position with the California State University Dominguez Hills library before coming to UCSB in 1992. If publishers get approval, "its worthwhile," she said, "they can sell a lot of product."

    Lucia Preciado-White, foreground, a Solvang teacher of English as a second language, joined other teachers and librarians this summer in the Davidson Library Curriculum Laboratory's annual give-away of instructional materials.