Calumet teacher creates math e-book

CALUMET – The digital electronic age continues to work its way into public education, and Calumet High School recently added another feature to its classrooms in the form of an iPad algebra electronic book.

Darryl Pierce, superintendent of the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw, said the Algebra I electronic book was created by math teacher Chris Woods to be downloaded on students’ Apple iPads.

There are many electronic books available to be downloaded for purchase, but Pierce said the algebra book created by Woods saves the district money by not having to pay for a book.

“We thought, we can make a better book than a publishing company,” he said.

Pierce said Woods’ book had to be vetted by Apple Corporation to make certain there were no copyright infringements before it could be used in the students’ iPads.

“It was quite a long process,” he said.

Pierce said the district uses other electronic books for various classes, and that’s the future for the district.

“I’d like to get out of the (paper) text book business,” he said.

Woods, who teaches mostly ninth-grade students, said after it was decided the district should create its own electronic algebra book, he was sent to a conference in Grand Rapids to meet with other teachers learning how to create their own electronic books.

“It’s still a very new idea,” he said.

Woods said the program he used to create the electronic book is very intuitive, but deciding what to put into the book took much more thought. There are videos of Woods lecturing on algebraic concepts throughout the book. The lectures are embedded in the program, so Internet access isn’t needed to see them.

In a classroom setting, Woods said students hear him once during a particular class period, but with the videos in the electronic book, they can repeat it as many times as necessary for them to grasp the concepts.

To download the book to their iPads, Woods said students just need to go to Apple’s iTunes. Students in his classes have been downloading the 10-chapter program for the past few days.

“It’s a full algebra book,” he said.

There are self-tests of concepts throughout the book, which can be taken repeatedly, and which Woods said allows students to determine if they’re understanding those concepts.

Woods said he’s been teaching math for 15 years, and he’s learned how to present concepts in the most easily understood way.

“I taught algebra (all of those 15 years), so I know the words that make it make sense to kids,” he said. “I basically make it more dynamic and simple.”

Woods said the process of creating the algebra book was enjoyable for him.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “It really forces you as a teacher to think what words you’re using.”

Travis Bardo is one of Woods students, and he said although he and other students just started using Woods’ electronic algebra book, he enjoys it.

“It’s really nice,” he said. “It helps a lot.”