If you’re teaching about computers and programming, why use paper textbooks? That’s the question ACM has been asking. Their answer is an all ebook library of computer books. The ACM Books catalog has titles that range from cloud computing top graphics and will be viewable on tablets, mobile phones and traditional desktop or notebook computers.
Looking to spice up your science curriculum with real-world advances? Tom Jackson’s “Physics, an Illustrated History of the Foundations of Science” has a series of detailed breakthroughs that have changed our world. Part of a series of science books about the periodic table, math and the universe, “Physics” explains it all in short stories about the scientists and researchers. The topics range from Newton’s laws and Brownian motion to string theory and superfluidity. All told, the book explains 100 different exciting topics with beautiful illustrations and archival illustrations. There’s a great pull-out timeline of physics advances that can be hung from any classroom wall but has a just-as-useful list of constants printed on the back, so it’s either or. The book lists for $25 but can be had for less than $19 if you shop around.
Forget about Louis Pasteur and Enrico Fermi because women have had a huge role to play in the evolution of science. From Shirley Ann Jackson and Heidi Hammel to Inez Fung and Mimi Koehl, these pioneering females have made their impact on our daily lives and now National Academies Press has a ten-book set of stories about them. Each book costs about $10, the set of 10 goes for $89.50 and there are free sample chapters to read online.
We know that the days of the paper and ink textbook are numbered, but this just might be the beginning of the end. Google’s Play for Education download site now sells discounted texts, from math and science to the novels that need to be read by high-school seniors. Most of the books are aimed at college students, but the Cambridge University Press’s Geometry text costs $31.02 versus nearly $90 that the paperback edition goes for.
Need to brush up on the latest school technology? Atomic Learning has a new ebook that covers the basics. The 19-page ebook “Proven Approaches to Effective Tech Integration: Strategies & Solutions for School Leaders” has everything from the SAMR model to differentiated learning, but each section can be nothing more than a brief introduction with few details. There are links to more info, however. It’s available for iPads or as a .pdf file that can be viewed on just about any device and only requires that you register.
If you’re more than a little intimidated with trying out your first programming project at school, think how the students feel staring at the keyboard and blank screen. No Starch Press’s Super Scratch Programming Adventure is a programming textbook masquerading as a graphic novel to make the information and techniques inside more accessible and less scary to both teacher and student.
Scratch is a programming language developed at MIT specifically for code newbies to make get into programming easy. The comic book’s hero is Scratchy, a cyberspace cat with an attitude. There’s also Mitch, a student who loves creating computer games, as well as Gobo, Fabu and Pete, trans-dimensional aliens who maintain the balance of the universe. Together they show how to make simple programming projects.
Along the way, the Scratch crew shows you how to create ever more complex programs, culminating in a complete game. You’ll need a recent PC, Mac or Linux computer with 120MB of free hard drive space to use the downloadable Scratch environment. It’s all a lot of fun, very educational and the book has a slew of online resources available to help teach the art and science of programming. Compared to $200 textbooks, this book is a steal at $25 for the paperback and $20 for the eBook version. You can try out a chapter for free.
Forget about using static paper texts because Adaptive Curriculum’s VBooks are much more and can cost a district a lot less. Based on visuals and an interactive plan that puts the emphasis on curiosity and exploration, VBooks teach by doing and have a good variety of reviews and assessments built in. The books on individual topics cost as little as $1.50 and there’s a free trial on one that teaches circumference and arc lengths.
The latest salvo in the e-textbook war is McGrawHill’s SmartBook effort. Unlike other efforts, tMcGrawHill and Area 9 have developed sophisticated branching technology that guides the student to a more personal and productive educational experience. Just answer questions along the way and the book adapts the student’s individual needs. The plans are for 90 courses and the system will work on PCs, Androids and iPads.
Need to know anything from the 100 largest libraries in the world to which county eats the most meat? It’s all in the latest edition of the World Almanac and Book of Facts. The 2013 version has over 1,000 pages, which includes a run through of 2012 in pictures as well as the results of the 2012 Olympics and Presidential election. The book lists for $13, but can be had for as little as $9 and belongs in every school library, social studies or history classroom.
Tired of stale old Physics textbooks? I know your students probably are. Here’s an alternative: “Manga Guide to Physics,” a 248-page graphic novel about two students at a Japanese high school and how they teach each other about everything from the law of action and reaction and force and motion to momentum and energy. Happily, there are sections that explain the relevant formulas as well as a chapter at the end devoted to the units. A great augmentation of the typical textbook, manga physics costs $200 for the paperbound book or $16 as a .pdf eBook. There are also manga books about calculus, statistics and electricity.