10 Classic and contemporary textbook features you may not be thinking about…but should

highlighted textbookDuring his 2019 TAA Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Textbook Features You May Not Be Thinking About… But Should!”, veteran textbook author Kevin Patton shared details about both classic – not “old” – and contemporary textbook features for consideration when designing a learning experience for your readers.

Starting with an exploration of the textbook as part of a learning experience for the student, Patton advised looking at the pain points, how they can be addressed, and what already works in the classroom. From there, it’s a matter of finding the right design elements to deliver the content in a meaningful way for the students using your book. Below are ten features for consideration. [Read more…]

The stuff our books are made of – Part 1

dictionaryThere is terminological chaos in the education culture. Yes, this is about the words we use as authors. More specifically, it is about the language of instruction, not about cellulose and silicone.

As Aristotle put it,

“For as long as it is not clear in how many senses a term is used, it is possible that the answerer and the questioner are not directing their minds upon the same thing,… [and, therefore] It often happens that a difficulty is found in discussing or arguing a given position because the definition has not been correctly rendered.”

The stuff our books are made of is extremely important because classroom teachers rely instructionally on textbooks for engaging subject matter. [Read more…]

Pedagogy of the book and chapter questions

teachDoes the organization of the textbook relate to pedagogical approaches used to teach with it? I considered this question in relation to chapter organization in a previous post. In this post I will explore another part of the typical textbook chapter: questions.

Flip to the end of a textbook chapter, and you will usually find a list of questions, exercises, or other suggested assignments. Sometimes you will find additional learning activity ideas and resources on the companion website. Do they serve a purpose, or do readers flip past to get to the next assigned reading? [Read more…]

Student review of textbook provides valuable feedback

Understanding RhetoricWhen was the last time you received honest feedback about your textbook from students? For many authors, feedback is provided during production from a team of editors. For a luckier few, instructor and student review may be part of the production process, especially for first editions. But rarely do authors have direct feedback from the students their book is intended to serve post-adoption.

Dr. Elizabeth Losh, associate professor of English and American Studies at William & Mary University, and author of Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing, has made student feedback a key component of her writing process. [Read more…]

Writing for readers

Writing for ReadersI am in that singular stage of insanity called finishing a book. My mind is full of details and questions such as, “did I already cover this in Chapter 1” or “do I have too many diagrams in this chapter”? At the same time, I can’t help but think about my reader.

I hope that my reader will hungrily devour the book from start to finish, stopping only to make notes about how she will put my ideas to use. I hope it will be dogeared, full of notes and highlights my reader will return to time and again. But seriously, how can we plan for the realities that will occur when masterpiece is in someone else’s hands? Here are some of my apprehensions, and the strategies I’m using to address them. [Read more…]

12 Ways to use creativity to separate your book project from the competition

Hipster businessman with idea, light bulb above his head, isolated on black backgroundYou’ve determined to dive in and write that monograph or textbook. You know it will be countless hours of work, but it will be worth it. Right?

No one wants to spend time on a “me too” project; going over ground already covered in other books. By spending time up front using creative thinking, you can increase your project’s chance of success. [Read more…]

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Authors share advice for writing your first textbook

textbooksWriting that first textbook can be a really time-consuming and exhausting experience, but knowing the ropes beforehand can make it less daunting.

Easy money. A screenplay. Fame and glory. If you’re thinking about writing a textbook, put these out of your mind. But if you’ve got a lot of knowledge to share in return for the satisfaction of just doing it, there’s some advice out there for writing your first textbook. [Read more…]