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Volume 28, Number 4
July/August 2012

Teachers Writing It Their Way


Any educator who has ever stood in front of a bored class using an antiquated text has probably wanted, at one time or another, to chuck that book out the window. That’s because there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all textbook. Now some technology-savvy teachers are finding their own solution: Instead of bemoaning bad books, they are writing their own digital textbooks, or e-texts.

Take the mathematics teachers at Andover High School in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district, which serves more than 38,000 students. Last summer they adapted a new statistics and probability textbook to better meet the district’s needs—and to save money. Wanting to push beyond the typical compendium of problem sets that comprise most print-based math textbooks, a team of nine teachers spent some 300 hours creating a versatile, more appropriate text. “We’re taking what we really want to teach—and the curriculum we really want to cover—and putting it in there,” says Andover math teacher Ernie Johnson. “We don’t have anything extra, and there isn’t anything missing.”

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.