29 Apr 2022


Evaluating Textbooks and Instructional Materials: Collections

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Collections is a multi-faceted digital and print instructional material that seeks to enable active and engaged learning (Bolkan, 2013; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, n.d). It includes a balanced collection of texts and provides a deeper learning experience using collaborative and interactive digital tools (Bolkan, 2013). It merges reading with experiential tools such as audiovisual media to keep students interested and to enable them to learn better. Further, it provides students with content that is structured upon the standard curriculum for English. This includes word analysis; reading comprehension; literary response and analysis; writing strategies; and written conventions. Moreover, it promotes the development of critical thinking and inquiry skills required in most professional careers. Content is provided in a variety of ways to suit different learning needs and preferences to enable individual students to learn at their pace (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). Responsive digital approaches are included to ensure efficiency and flexibility which save time. The online editions provide for student-teacher interaction for remediation, and support for teaching and learning. The collaboration and partnerships with media partners such as HISTORY and Channel One News are aimed at enriching the learning experience and revolutionizing the learning and teaching process. This is by providing access to content delivered through drama and storytelling as well as current affairs ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , n.d).

The publisher and experts

Collections is published by Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt, an education and trade publishing company. The contributors and partners in this holistic English learning experience are education consultants and experts, renowned professors of education, lecturers and teachers of English and authors ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , n.d). This feature ensures the effectiveness of the instruction material. The following are some of the contributing experts: Dr. Janet Allen, reading and literacy specialist; Professor Arthur N. Applebee, a professor of education, and Jim-Burke, a Lecturer, and Author. Other contributors include: Douglas Carnine, a Professor of Education; Yvette Jackson, an education specialist in literacy, gifted education and cognitive mediation theory; Carol Jago, a long-standing lecturer of English and Author; Robert T. Jimenez, a Professor of language, literacy and culture; and Judith A. Langer, a distinguished professor in English language arts education. The other experts include: Robert J. Marzano, an Associate professor and expert in reading and writing instruction, thinking skills, assessment and standard implementation; Dona Ogle, a Professor of reading and language; Carol Olson, a Senior lecturer of education and an expert in reading and writing connection, critical thinking through writing, interactive strategies for teaching writing, and use of multicultural literature; Carol Ann Tomlinson, a professor of educational research; Kylene Beers, a lecturer and author on reading and literacy. Apart from partnerships with leading media companies such as HISTORY, Channel One News, other collaborators include stream to start videos™ and Xplor® magazines. All these enrich the learning experience ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , 2015).

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Context, genre, potential significance and overall evaluation

Collections is more than the traditional anthology. It bridges the disconnect in traditional texts and learning experiences and is more in step with learning needs of the technologically savvy students of today (Bolkan 2013; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , n.d). In addition to providing access to audiovisual media, it includes other interactive technology such as the HMH Player ® app through which students can download lessons and assignments. On the other hand, it allows the teachers to add content. Also included is an issue-based workshop for the professional training of instructors. This unique learning experience is composed of learning material in both text and digital edition. Students and teachers can append and save notes in the eBook version. It consists of the student’s edition, the close reader and the teacher’s edition which are purchased separately. Also included is an online teacher dashboard and online resources which include: writing, speaking, listening, and research lessons; HISTORY; and Channel One News videos to enrich the experience. 

Collections provides both print and digital resources. The content is a healthy balance of classic and contemporary literature and many different informational texts which, are relied on to develop the student's English Language Art skills. The online edition has audio, videos, teacher support, author studies, and it enables opportunity for remediation, enrichment and practice, and electronic resources are available ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , 2014). As a result, Collections meets all the factors that determine the rate of success in reading as well as understanding text which enhances its ‘readability.' These include motivation and the level of interest amongst the readers; the legibility of both illustrations and print; and lastly the complexity of sentences and words in relation to the ability to read.

Summary of the book and value for reader

The student and teacher editions of Collections are comprehensive and address key points of the common core state standards English Language Arts for preparing students for college and career success. It encompasses writing workshops, media studies, and research in a holistic manner. Likewise, students engage in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Language skills and vocabulary are addressed in each workshop and on page references indicate the supplemental video from HISTORY and the interactive reader mirrors Collections . The interactive reader enables students to record thoughts while the built-in organizers aid comprehension. Thus, it is adaptable to various reading levels. There is a separate resource which provides the students with information on knowledge and skills that should be acquired at the end of each text. The teacher resource manager contains support materials for planning and teaching such as lesson plans, ideas for extended lessons, tests and a big questions transparency book. There is also a complete collection of big questions that appear in the student’s edition to assist the teacher in enabling the students to attain high standards. Another resource available for teachers is the assessment file that enables teachers to assess attainment of the key points of grammar, comprehension, and writing. The other online interactive tools include the online scoring of essays, professional development, online remediation, and a teacher’s site. In conclusion, Collections is a comprehensive instructional material and is bound to produce scholars with advanced skills in English Language Arts.


Bolkan, J. (2013). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Debuts Digital Language Arts Program for Middle and High School Students. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2013/09/25/houghton-mifflin-harcourt-debuts-digital-language-arts-program-for-middle-and-high-school-students.aspx?=CCTU  

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015, Sep 14). Collections 2017 Overview [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe-BDxojgpY  

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014, Jul 2). Collections Overview [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haHtTI90svQ  

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (n.d). Collections: English Language Arts, Grade 6-12. Retrieved from http://www.hmhco.com/shop/education-curriculum/literature-and-language-arts/literature/collections#  

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Evaluating Textbooks and Instructional Materials: Collections.


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