Professor Michelle Manes developed an e-text for Math 111 and Math 112, Math for Elementary Teachers, with Instructor Notes. In this post she describes the motivations for creating an open e-text for these courses and how this project succeeded.
“The e-book delves into the why behind K-5 mathematics in the new Common Core State Standards (recently adopted by Hawaii). The focus is on beginning to develop in future teachers profound understanding of fundamental mathematics, always answering not just what’s the answer but how do you know you’re right?”
“With Hawaii (and almost every other state in the country) adopting the Common Core State Standards, we had recently worked with the College of Education on new syllabi for these classes that would better serve their incoming students.
After a really thorough textbook review, we were having a hard time finding something we felt good about using for the redesigned course. We wanted a book that was readable by students, usable by faculty and graduate students who weren’t used to teaching this kind of class, included interesting and challenging problems, and focused just on K-5 mathematics (not all of K-8).
Every textbook we examined had some weakness (not enough problems; or the focus was too much on computation and procedure rather than understanding and sense-making; or the text wasn’t readable by students; or it wasn’t clear to instructors what to actually do in class).
Also, we were really worried about the tremendous expense of the textbooks from major publishers. I have a background in curriculum development, and thought I could pull together my classroom activities into a usable format for both students & instructors, and we could just give it away for free.”
“I had already been teaching the course for several years, and I had a storehouse of activities and assignments that I had been using and sharing with other instructors. I pulled these together into chapters and wrote surrounding text (meant to be read by the students) and brief instructor notes. I didn’t do much in the way of formatting or pretty-ing it up. Then a few graduate students learned iBooks author and created the nice versions from my plain-looking files.
Math 111 (first semester) materials were mostly written during the spring of 2013, completed in the early part of the summer. Graduate students worked that summer to create the ebooks. The ebooks have been used for several sections each semester since then, and we make modifications each time, based on instructor and student feedback. Math 112 (second semester) materials were written before and during Spring of 2014. I was basically writing one step ahead of our teaching (myself and two other instructors). I revised them based on student and instructor feedback, and graduate students again worked on the ebook formatting during the summer.
I continue to collect instructor feedback as they teach the course, and between semesters I do updates to the materials as necessary. This summer, I may do a slightly more substantial revision of the whole course.”