Additional Math Pages & Resources

Monday, April 12, 2010

How does a math book come about?

Sometimes people ask me how we create Excel Math. Here's a quick overview:

We start by collecting state math standards and customer expectations.

Then we begin cutting, pasting, sorting and categorizing the new requirements. We compare to our existing material, figure out what we must delete (to make room for the new), and what we must add. We create Scope and Sequence documents - listing the concepts we'll cover in each grade. Then we survey some existing customers, asking "Here's what we propose, what do you think?"
Next we start copying page files from our archives to the active working area of our Mac computer network. Or we might start from scratch if there are many changes, or we change page orientation like we did with Kindergarten in 2009.

If we start from scratch, we create 370 page files for our 155-lesson format. That's front and back of 155 lessons plus the tests. All those pages are reproduced (at a smaller scale) in our Teacher Edition, so each file gets linked to master Teacher Edition files. We change all the copyright dates, page frames, etc. We back up all this material, then take a deep breath and dive in!

We create what we call bins for each new concept to be added. We create 10-100 problems to each bin. These are at the correct level of difficulty, including various ethnic names, a balance of males and females, interesting, timely topics that will appeal to kids of the right age group, etc. We organize, compare, check, proofread, save and print these bins. Here's an example of a problem bin:

Then we go into the page files, take out old problems, insert new ones from our bins, and rearrange the pages as necessary. We check the pages against the Scope and Sequence.

We find any problems out of order (where we might ask a question before the subject was taught) We move or adjust lessons to improve the spiraling sequence of problems. Where possible, we add graphics to improve the appearance and interest level of the pages. We check again, proofread inside the office and outside using contract workers and kids.

We add extra activities at the back of the TE, and Create A Problem items on the back of test pages. These cover concepts that are not calculation-based, or need more discussion, or are best taught by running around the school campus.

We create tests that reflect the concepts taught in previous 15-20 lessons, and make up test correlation charts showing which test question is assessing which lesson concept.

We then have both adults and kids do all the work, solve all the problems and review all the wording. We look at the files for missing material, adjust any political correctness issues, and improve the artistic appearance (there are no machine tools to perform this kind of work, it is all done by people).

Now we create high-resolution PDF files for our two printers. We send them the files or carry them over, depending on the size of the project.

They print the pages and collate them into sets of 10, 15, 22, 30, or 35 Lesson Sheets. Some pages are collated into individual student sets and we apply gummy-binding on the spines and a cardboard back.

We print and coil-bind the Teacher Editions.

The original page files are re-processed to extract the lesson-only part of the page and format it for screen display. This becomes our Projectable Lessons product. Those files are assembled and we create a DVD master for our disc duplication company.

That's about it!

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