What's Old Is New Again: High Quality Leveled Readers

I was delighted, a little over a month ago, to get a call from a company called Curriculum Concepts International. I had never heard of CCI, but it turns out that they were a part of an ongoing project at Time for Kids (part of Time Inc.) in which I was involved many years ago.  Harcourt, creator of K-12 textbooks, had contracted with Time to create sets of "mini-books" as secondary sources to support social studies texts for grades K-6.  I had had the pleasure of researching and writing quite a few of these mini-books on fascinating topics such as --

One of my early trades

The Kennedy Space Center
 The Silk Road
 Climate Change
The Elements
Norfolk and the Navy
The Chesapeake Bay
  Discovering New Species
 The Ancient Phoenicians

When the recession hit, the market for these small, high quality books with fabulous illustrations from the Time-Life photo library appeared to dry up.  But it seems that the business merely took a detour.  Now, CCI is managing the development of new leveled readers at the same high quality, and they thought of me.

Last month, I took on a really exciting CCI/Harcourt project: a 4th/5th grade book called Life on a Lunar Colony.  No, it's not fiction -- but it did give me a chance to explore what NASA and private businesses are thinking about relative to our next steps in space.  Wonderful stuff, including gorgeous artists' conceptions of domed habitats, mining facilities and moon rovers.
This month, I've started work on a new CCI/Harcourt mini-book called Measuring Matter.  I'm looking forward to getting back into the world of physics! It's wonderful to be able to mix print and digital education, using the "appropriate technology" for different kinds of learners.

Interactive Education and E-Learning

As an educational writer for both formal and informal educational clients, I've always been involved with multisensory and hands-on instructional techniques. As a 21st century educational writer, without thinking much about it, I've collected a diverse set of skills for creating digital teaching tools.  As clients have turned to technology, I've followed suit.

Thought I've always thought of myself as a "writer," I now realized that I've morphed a bit.  Over the past decade, I've become an eLearning specialist with significant knowledge of and experience in the tools, philosophy and techniques of the field.  While I'm not a programmer (and don't plan to be one), I've jumped into the eLearning field without plannig it.

I've worked with PowerPoint and Camtasia, storyboards and smartboards, interactive kiosk scripting and blogs.  I've learned to build teaching and assessments tools based on Flash, Java and HTML "interactives" such as drag and drop modules, puzzles, quizzes, and -- of course -- good old fashioned multiple choice.  With all these tools, I've had the opportunity to develop some really exciting products:
  • two distance learning courses for Drexel University's Goodwin College
  • three interactive web-based classes for MediaBistro.com
  • interactive lectures for college students for Pearson Publishing
  • 21st Century Skills video scripts for Pearson (for elementary students)
  • interactive tools for exploring personal finance for Apex Learning
...and that's just the start.

To celebrate the discovery that I've successfully navigated the bridge between print and digital educational writing, I've created two new tabs for this site.  One focuses entirely on elearning and Instruction Design; the other on printed books and other publications.  Need a writer?  I'm up for either one!