Social Studies Textbook Evaluation Form


Evaluator: Caryn Baker
Textbook Title: Our Michigan Adventure!
Textbook Author(s): David B. McConnell
Publication Date/Edition: 2008, 1st Edition
Publisher: Hillsdale Education Publishers, Inc.
Intended Grade Level(s): 4th Grade

Overall description of the textbook:

Overall, the textbook is about the size of an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper. It is a hardcover text that is roughly 1 inch thick. The text is organized into thirteen chapters, with up to six lessons per chapter. Each lesson is no more than six pages long and is concluded by an orange box with three sections: “Questions to Think About”, “Brain Stretcher” activities, and a final section called “Take a Stand”. The text has pictures and diagrams throughout on every page. The text also has different pictures and symbols throughout signifying general important values and ideas that tie in with the present. Vocabulary words are bolded throughout and a pronunciation guide follows words that may be difficult to pronounce. The back of the book contains multiple world maps and diagrams as well as maps and diagrams of the United States and Michigan. Following the maps is a glossary; each word is bolded and is followed by its pronunciation, a definition, and a page number for where to find the word in the text. The final section of the text is the Index.


List and describe all materials that accompany the textbook.

  Material Type Description
Teacher’s Edition –       The teacher’s edition includes GLCEs for 4th grade social studies, a list of themes throughout Michigan History, and Core Democratic Values and Constitutional Principles, listed by value followed by each chapter, lesson, and page number for reference.

–       The TE includes website information for teachers and students.

–       The TE includes the BIG 10 Ideas Chapter Review, applicable to each chapter with the respective GLCE following it.

–       Teacher Support Material Includes for each chapter: recipes, crafts, activities, computer activities, enrichment activities, and answers to the questions provided in the student text.

–       Maps (to copy) for student activities

Student Workbook N/A
Parent Materials N/A
Materials for ESL/ELL Learners N/A
Materials for Students with Special Needs N/A
Audio Media N/A
Video Media N/A
Software N/A
Online Media N/A
Test Banks N/A
Blackline Masters N/A
Transparencies N/A
Other N/A 


Assign a numerical score for each statement below. Use the space beside each statement to provide additional comments.

SCORING: 4=excellent; 3=good; 2=adequate; 1=poor; 0=unacceptable/nonexistent

Practical Considerations


Element Comments
3 The textbook is clearly organized. The textbook is easy to follow and is uniform throughout the entire book, but the content of each lesson is organized in a manner that can be distracting.
4 Table of contents and index are clear and expansive. – The Table of Contents shows chapter divisions, lesson divisions, and page numbers where each chapter and lesson can be found.

– The Index has many important words and is followed by page numbers for reference.

4 Units/chapters/sections are of acceptable length for target audience. Chapters are roughly 25 pages and each lesson is roughly 4-6 pages long.
2 Page design includes ample white space and acceptable backgrounds. I thought there was too much white space. The visual design of the text is very minimal: color pictures and graphics are included, but they are simplistic.
3 Graphics are clear and accurate. Technically, the graphics are clear and accurate, but as stated before, they are very simplistic.
4 Appendices are accurate and easy to use. – Maps are clearly labeled

– Glossary terms are accurately defined and include a page number for reference.

– Index is clear cut

2 The book is attractive. Visually simplistic; too much white space, sub-par graphics.
4 The size of the book is appropriate. Not too thick, not too large, not too heavy.
4 The book appears durable. Hardcover – if taken care of well, the book could sustain many years of use.
1 The textbook integrates National Council for the Social Studies Standards. While the textbook integrates GLCEs into each lesson, it does not address the standards laid out in the National Council for the Social Studies Standards.


1-2 The textbook offers clearly stated goals or objectives for each chapter. The beginning of each chapter and lesson begins with a title and a key question, but no clear learning targets or objectives.
3 Provides up-do-date maps, illustrations, and topical discussions. – Maps are up to date and easy to read

– Illustrations are simplified and sub-par

– Discussions are topical and target critical thinking skills.

Target Audience

Score Element Comments
3-4 The content is age appropriate and sensitive to the developmental level of the target audience. Content is within a typical 4th grader’s zone of proximal development.
2-3 The layout and writing style appeal to the target audience. – Layout works and is effective, but could be improved

– Writing style is appropriate for target audience.

4 Topics appeal to students at the targeted grade level. Not every student is interested in social studies and history, but the topics presented in this text seem to appeal to the developmental level of the target audience.
3-4 Explanations are clear and delivered in a manner understandable to students. The text scaffolds its terms, making it hard to understand a particular concept without having “covered” the previous chapter.

– Page 186: In discussing World War I, the text discusses themes and some specific details, but not in an overwhelming manner.

4 The text would be enjoyable for students and teachers to read and use. The text has enough luster to make the content interesting without overselling it.
4 Reading level is age-appropriate. Based on the reading statistics, the reading level is age-appropriate (4.4).



Score Element Comments
3-4 The amount of material addressed in each chapter is reasonable. There doesn’t seem to be too much material addressed in each chapter, but I think it might be better to go into a little bit more depth regarding some of these concepts.
4 Content material sequencing is logical. Content material is sequenced in a logical and chronological manner.
4 Content sequencing provides for review of prior knowledge and connections to new knowledge. Content is scaffolded throughout the textbook.

Terms are referred back to when relevant.

4 Content information is accurate.
3-4 Examples are contextualized, authentic, and “real-world.” The examples are contextualized, authentic, and “real-world”, but the textbook is also dated, making the examples slightly dated as well.

– page 284: talks about how students from Borculo Christian School petitioned for Michigan to have a state mammal – discusses it as if it happened 2-3 years ago. It happened in 1997, almost 20 years ago.


3 Content offerings provide depth to individual topics. Some topics could be addressed more deeply (slavery, “Explorers from Far Away”, the World Wars)
4 Content offerings provide breadth across the curriculum.
2 Interdisciplinary relationships are obvious. While some cultural aspects are addressed, this text is mainly a history textbook; it does not seem to dive into other disciplines regarding social studies.
4 Content addresses each of the NCSS Standards thematic strands. Table/List at beginning of TE lists each standard and where it can be found throughout the textbook
4 Provides a balanced perspective of history and culture. Real-world stories are interspersed to give a sense of culture.

The TE provides different activities to engage students in the cultural aspect of social studies

3 Provides suggestions for diversified activities. Activities are listed at the end of each chapter. Many target critical thinking skills, but do not do more than that.
2-3 Assessment extends beyond lower cognitive taxonomic levels. Assessments target mostly knowledge and understanding. There are one or two questions at the end of each lesson targeting critical thinking and analysis skills, but that is the extent of higher level assessment.
0 Includes non-traditional assessment methods. I have found nothing in to indicate there are non-traditional assessment methods included.


Cultural Appreciation

Score Element Comments
2-3 Myriad cultures are represented. Michigan Native Americans are one of the only cultures represented consistently throughout the text.

A chapter is dedicated to a few other cultures represented in Michigan (chapter 11).

2-3 Images represent individuals from multiple cultural backgrounds. Michigan citizens, Michigan Native Americans, and African Americans are represented. There is a chapter (ch. 11) that discusses the different ethnicities that make up Michigan today, but it only gives a small blurb to a few ethnic minorities.
3-4 Images represent individuals from both genders in equal roles of power and authority. There are not very many images provided, but regarding the images that are present, they represent individuals from both genders in equal roles of power and authority.
0 Images represent individuals with and without handicapping conditions. I have not come across an image representing an individual with handicapping conditions.
3 Text encourages cultural appreciation. There are a few sections encouraging cultural appreciation, but it is not a major theme throughout the text.
4 Content coverage is unbiased.



Major strengths of textbook:

McConnell does a good job organizing information in a manner that flows well, is appropriate for the grade level, and presents information in an unbiased manner.

– Flows well: Moves from talking about the good that happened after WW! To the stock market crash to how the government handled the economic situation. Things flow smoothly and seamlessly.

– Appropriate for grade level: See bottom of the document

– Unbiased: For example, when talking about the great depression, McConnell could have blamed a party or people group for the stock market crash, but he didn’t; he gave the facts and described how it affected the people in Michigan (and throughout the United States).

Major weaknesses of textbook:

Presentation: Graphics are sub-par. They may be interesting at first, but as a student spends more time in the textbook, he or she will become bored with the illustrations. There is also a great amount of white space in the book (colorful backgrounds are a good thing and should be utilized in moderation.)

– Page 192: “BANK CLOSED out of money” sign is a simple graphic that could have been composed in Microsoft Word. An actual photograph of a “Bank Closed” sign could have been used instead to make it more authentic.

– Page 201: Airplane graphic could have also been an actual photograph instead of a caricature.

– Photographs used throughout chapter: Authentic and interesting



This textbook has decent content, but is sub-par on all other levels. It does not have many resources outside of the Teacher’s Edition. It could go deeper in its application of the Standards. The graphics and visual presentation could be stepped up quite a few levels. I wouldn’t not recommend this textbook because the content is good, but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for the other reasons previously listed.

Readability Statistics: taken from page 192 (Chapter 8, Lesson 3)

The stock market crash also hurt banks. Many of them invested in stocks too. Often banks had to close. By 1932 nearly 200 Michigan banks had gone out of business. Many people lost all of their savings. Now they really needed those savings. They had also lost their jobs!

– Readability Statistics Results: 4.4


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