Educational Publishing Company

The Noise of Politics and the Common Core

Written by Tim Pope

My Google Alert for “Common Core Mathematics” has recently supplied me with no shortage of reading as a fair number of states are engaging in debate around the Common Core.  The debate has created some strange bedfellows as the Tea Party and the teachers unions share antipathy for the standards while many Republican governors and legislators are joining President Obama’s administration in support of the Common Core.  Healthy debate on what is best for our schools and our children is not only appropriate, but a necessary part of a successful society.  What concerns me as a parent and an educator is my fear that the Common Core debate is being removed from a true conversation about preparing our children for a challenging future.  Learning standards seem to have become another pawn in the seemingly ceaseless polarized rhetoric that passes for political discourse.

Five states have, for various reasons, not adopted the Common Core.  A few others have been debating them for a while.  The number of states questioning the Standards jumped this spring when the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution condemning the Common Core.  Not wanting to use this blog to cover ground that others have covered, the Fordham Institute has provided their response.   














Red – Committed to CCSS             

Blue – Adopted CCSS, but state legislature considering rejection           

Gray – Did not adopt CCSS


The discourse has become heated as some of those wanting to abandon the Common Core accuse the federal government of conspiring to take over schools, invade the privacy of families, and increase the profits of companies involved with the new standards.  Not to only focus on one side of the traditional political debate, teachers unions have also provided lukewarm responses as they worry the new assessments may impact their job security.

In the Heath brothers’ latest book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, they explore the common mistake of confirmation bias when making a decision.  Our politics have become so polarized, I think we often look for reasons to assume the worst and the Common Core is falling victim to this bias.  Tea Party groups are looking to confirm their beliefs about the federal government and unions are looking to confirm their beliefs about perceived disrespect.  The Heath brothers suggest assuming positive intent as a strategy for overcoming the bias. 

Is it not possible to assume the writers of the Common Core are capable individuals seeking to ensure all students are prepared for college and careers? 

Is it not possible to assume the Department of Education was looking for a scalable solution to the incredible challenge of preparing students to make positive contributions to our nation? 

Is it not possible to assume publishers and other instructional materials vendors are simply reacting to the policy makers, districts, schools, and teachers that make up our customer base?

It is also possible that there are great conspiracy theories looking to cheat the American people, and our children, from a quality education.  However, starting with that premise only eliminates the possibility of true dialogue and any opportunity we have to improve student learning.


Say Goodbye to the 20 Questions

Written by Jocelyn Van Vliet

Recently, a friend of mine who is considering applying for teaching jobs was talking about articulating a philosophy of education. It has been a long time since I sat down to think about this, so it got my mind turning. I started thinking about how my philosophy has changed as a result of my experience in both teaching and educational publishing.

Frankly, my philosophy has gotten much simpler. Quality education really boils down to learning to ask good questions. As educators, we need to ask questions that engage students in the content and encourage them to think about more than a memorized process. We need to avoid asking students 20 questions, and instead ask students fewer, higher-quality questions that challenge them to understand the concept behind the process and dig into the mathematics (or insert your preferred subject here).

This does not relieve educators of the responsibility to teach, nor does it disregard the need for procedures and basic skills. It simply calls us to challenge students to think more deeply and gain a stronger understanding of what they are learning. In addition, it provides a model for students who need to learn to ask their own questions that challenge the content or explore it deeper.

So what is it that makes a good question?


Higher Education Publishing...the Professional Way

Earlier this week I was reading a couple of articles about trends in higher education publishing when I noticed that a couple of the ads that “randomly” appeared on the browser page were for “publishers” offering to publish your book for a flat fee (both just under $200). I wonder how many authors of higher education textbooks have looked into those companies. I know the here at Kendall Hunt Publishing we have a nationwide cadre of highly trained publishing professionals who walk our authors through every step of the publishing process to attain the best results.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a custom textbook, a traditional higher education textbook, or a specialized higher education course offered as an ebook or through a digital coursepack. Our editors are trained to identify your needs and show you how Kendall Hunt Publishing can meet and exceed them. So don’t fall for the “we’ll publish your book for $200” routine. If you have college course materials you’d like to turn into a book or through a digital learning environment, get in touch with one of our editors today. There’s one in your area, and you can find them here:


Focus, Focus…uh, what?

Well, here’s one of my “mom’s perspective” blog entries. My son is now finishing the 6th grade, my how time flies, and with any luck he’ll make it to 7th grade. Just kidding, he’s still a good student, but something seems to happen to sixth grade boys’ brains about midway through the year…they fall out. Anyone else experienced that? I know I’m not alone. They lose focus, they look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language, etc. I know, it’s normal, they all go through it to some extent, but still there is plenty of focus for some things that he deems important, Xbox being chief among them. I’m thinking that an educational publishing company, like my very own employer, Kendall Hunt, might have a great new digital delivery mechanism for all sorts of eLearning products…if we could just make them all into video games, which is already being done, but feed them through those portals they think are “cool.” 

Seriously, what about tying digital mathematics programs into Call of Duty where you have to find the solution to math problems to advance in the game, or to even start the game?  Put the high school chemistry textbook, in ebook format, into Xbox and maybe they’ll read it with their friends…?  That’s it!! Make it so I can program the video game console to only let him through to his games after he’s done math and science!!  I know, I’m grasping at straws here, but with this digital generation, with whom we seem to need to speak only in 11 second sound bites, can learning materials within the PlayStation/Xbox/Wii platforms be far behind?  Is anyone doing it already?


Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

This is teacher appreciation week, and somehow it seems that as a mother and an employee of an educational publishing company, I should be and am extremely grateful to our teachers out there.  I just read a great article by Sally Ride, the first American woman in space about how grateful she is to her high school science teacher, and the vital importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in our educational system today in order for us to remain competitive in the future. You can find the article here:

On that page was a link to another article about teachers adjusting to digital learning environments. I’m just interested in what our readers think about things like digital science programs, eLearning, and the variety of content delivery systems now available for educational materials. Do they make your teaching lives easier? Is kids not having computers at home ever a problem? Do you find that you spend less money out of your own pockets when using online course materials? Submit a comment if you have an opinion.

And again, thank you for all you do!!!


New First-Year College Success Symposium Scheduled for Atlanta

Atlanta SymposiumMore than ever college professors recognize the importance of getting first year students off to a good start. Not only does it set them up for success in college, but it vastly improves a school’s retention rate.

For the past couple of years, each spring and fall, higher education publisher Kendall Hunt has offered the Promoting First-Year Student Success in College and Beyond Symposium. The dates for the upcoming seminar at the end of March have just been announced. The Symposium will take place March 30 – April 1 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Atlanta Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia.

Beside the fact that it should be a beautiful time of year to be in Atlanta, this professional development symposium features leading educators in the field of college student success and diversity education. It will address the full range of factors that promote college student success, focusing on high-impact practices that are well grounded in research on student learning and persistence, and which educate the student as a whole person.

You'll also be able to explore Kendall Hunt's custom college publishing, online course materials, and content delivery system options for your customized first-year title.

Visit the Symposium website at for more information. Register by February 20th and save $25 per person. Watch for more posts with info on the sessions and authors. Don’t miss this outstanding event!


Visit us at NCTM!

It's hard to believe another NCTM annual conference is upon us.  The big talk at this year's meeting is about the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics, as educators and publishers alike are working hard to make sure the curricula they're using are aligned to the new standards. 

Fortunately for Kendall Hunt, our core math products like Math Trailblazers and Math Trailblazers CCSS Seal
Math Innovations already align very well with the CCSS.  And as a digital publishing company with a strong focus on the development of digital learning resources, we can provide CCSS-related program enhancements to our customers easily and economically without the need to purchase additional print materials.

If you're attending NCTM, stop by booth 1235 to learn more about the ways we can help you address the new standards in your districts and classrooms.  We're also sponsoring some great workshops that will provide additional product information -- you can learn more about those here.

And if you're not attending NCTM this year, don't worry! Just call your Kendall Hunt sales representative at 1-800-542-6657 -- they'll be happy to speak with you about all of our math product solutions -- including Flourish, our new digital learning network -- and the ways they can help you not only meet, but exceed the new CCSS standards!

Social networks at school: educational value or distraction?

As an educational publishing company, Kendall Hunt must, of course, keep up with the trends and keep our business current. That’s the only way we can keep offering our outstanding high school science textbooks, elementary school textbooks, and higher education products.  

Of course one of the biggest topics of conversation around here is social media. How and when to use it, who uses it, etc. We are on We Are Teachers, a great online teacher community, but what about students? Some people are involved in a discussion about whether the use of classroom technology, such as online math and science curricula, an online elementary curriculum and the like, reflects what students are doing in their lives outside of school. We know that social media tools are considered a distraction at schools, so much so that many schools have blocked access to Facebook, MySpace and other online communities altogether. And with the growth of cyberbullying, it can become a real safety issue besides.

The other side of this coin is the collaborative nature or team/community building potential of these applications. Students working together toward a shared result, and all the educational benefits that come along with that. So is there a happy medium? Has your school found a way? Tell me about it!


I just have to say this...

As a follow-up to the fun and learning Kendall Hunt Publishing employees were a part of on the inaugural National Lab Day, there’s something I really want to get off my chest. Yes, Kendall Hunt is an educational publishing company, we sell educational materials and solutions. Books for gifted students, high school chemistry textbooks, teacher edition textbooks, online learning solutions, and more…we make it, and yep, we want to sell it.

But as I saw my fellow employees participate in and react to their National Lab Day experiences, it made me feel really good. Because for us, it really is about the kids. It’s about them learning, and growing, and, eventually, making the world a better place. And we know we can influence that, we can help them along the way, we can make a difference for them. We’ll never be a giant monolithic publisher who sells more high school biology books that everyone else combined. But we don’t want to be that. We want to help teachers, real classroom teachers, from kindergarten through college, find the best solution for their students.

I think it’s just that we care about the kids, we believe in what we do, and we hope to make a difference. It’s what keeps each of us going every day. As loyal readers, I just thought you might like to know what drives us.


Kendall Hunt Chemistry Workshops Draw Crowds

It appears that many high school chemistry teachers are looking for innovative secondary school textbooks for their classrooms.  At the NSTA regional conference in Phoenix, AZ earlier this month, author Kelly Deters presented Kendall Hunt Chemistry: Discovering the Chemistry You Need to Know to a full house.

Teachers listened with great interest as Kelly detailed how her experience as a classroom teacher, combined with extensive research, led to the development of this highly-engaging high school chemistry textbook.  Attendees were extremely impressed with the program's concise, practical approach to teaching chemistry.  They said it was so unlike the encyclopedia-type of textbook published by other educational book companies.  They knew their students would be able to make real-world connections with this high school chemistry textbook.

Dr. Deters truly showed how this approach allows teachers to teach chemistry without hearing "When am I ever going to need to know this?" (which just happened to be the title of the workshop).  I enjoyed speaking with many attendees following the session, and look forward to working with them as they implement the program in their schools next year!

National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Conference

I just returned from the NABT Conference in Denver, Colorado.  It is always so inspiring to see educators taking time out of their busy schedules to focus on their own professional development.  We enjoyed talking with teachers from around the country at our exhibit booth, as well as in workshops for our BSCS Biology: A Human Approach and Forensic Science for High School programs.

It is also fun to cruise the exhibit hall, mingling with other school textbook publishers, and seeing who has merged with whom in this ever-changing world of school textbook publishers!  It makes me appreciate working for a stable company like Kendall Hunt, which has been family-owned for more than 60 years, and is still going strong.

But the best part of the conference for me is getting the chance to sit down and talk with teachers who are interested in, or currently using, our secondary school textbooks.  Among educational book companies, the word "inquiry" gets thrown around a lot.  It is always rewarding to hear directly from teachers that Kendall Hunt truly has the material to back it up.  As one teacher from Massachusetts put it, "I know that when you say 'inquiry' you MEAN inquiry!"

This week I get to pack up my elementary school science textbooks too, as I head out for the Colorado Science Conference.  It is at the Denver Merchandise Mart November 19-20.  Hope to see you there!

Come to a NSTA Conference

Looking to learn about more about what science education textbook publishers had to offer for your classroom?  Want to attend some content specific professional development workshops?

A great opportunity to do both is just around the corner.  Take time to head out to one of three NSTA regional area conferences going on in the next two months. 

2009 NSTA Area Conferences (

  • Minneapolis: Oct. 29–31
  • Ft. Lauderdale: Nov. 12–14
  • Phoenix: Dec. 3–5


Here is a great list from NSTA of why you should attend one of their conferences:

Top 10 Reasons for Attending an NSTA Conference

  1. Performance—You and your students deserve to be excellent in science
  2. Leadership—Because new skills, knowledge and activities help build educational leaders who influence others to do extraordinary things
  3. Discovery—Because looking at the world with a new perspective brings innovation and creativity in the classroom
  4. Motivation—Because expert speakers, educators, and scientists serve to inspire and stimulate
  5. Passion—Because sharing it with your peers, your mentors, and the leaders in science education is contagious
  6. Expertise—Because educators are the best when they are well versed in their field
  7. Inspiration—Because you will hear stories from the likes of renowned author Richard Louv that will move you to act.
  8. Growth—Because your conference experience will expand your world personally and professionally
  9. Freebies—Because exhibiting companies from across the nation will offer you hundreds of classroom giveaways, new products and samples
  10. . Connections—Because you’ll meet peers, mentors, leaders, and acquaintances for support and friendship

Stop by the Kendall Hunt booths to see the different textbooks for elementary school, middle and high school. This includes science curriculum for high ability learners.   


Improving Science Education...


I recently received a comment to my initial blog post asking what I suggest as a solution to the failing education system and what does Kendall Hunt as an educational publishing company offer science teachers to improve the situation.  Great questions and I will attempt to answer them in a concise way!

What I see as a solution on a massive scale is a commitment and a collaborative effort by our government, publishers, educators, and parents to mandate and fully embrace Education Reform. We need to identify promising education practices and curriculum, and rigorously test their effectiveness.

On a smaller more local scale, what could your district do to improve Science education? I would suggest as a solution is a district-wide Science Initiative focused on placing Science Coaches in every school, increasing the number of high-quality science teachers at every grade level, hiring science specialists to middle grades, and begin exploring ways to offer alternative certifications to draw potential science teachers from science and industry professions.  Additionally, I recommend implementing efficient and effective academic programs that are research-based. 

What does Kendall Hunt have to offer science teachers? As the leader in PreK-12 standards-based science textbook publishing, we're proud of the positive results our programs have achieved for students across the country. Our leading reform curricula are written and tested by actual classroom teachers and backed by research. Our products promote hands-on inquiry based science.  How is that for a teaser? Not to worry, I will fully address this question in my next blog post! Until then…if you are interested read about The Historical Roots of Hands-On Science Teaching

"If all we do is invest in the status quo, then we've missed this once-in-a-lifetime, historic opportunity to give our children the education they desperately need and deserve."

-Arnie Duncan,
Secretary of Education


It's Almost Time for a Fresh Start

Well, school registration is complete. One week from today, my son will be safely ensconced in his fourth grade classroom surrounded by elementary school textbooks of every subject: reading, math, science, social studies. He’s looking forward to what his gifted teacher has in store this year. The school was able to get a few new books for gifted students along with other accelerated learning resources. 

Here at Kendall Hunt, our brand new Distribution Center (it’s huge, and I love it when I have to go down there…it’s the coolest place!) is shipping out books like crazy…by the palletful, actually, just like every other educational publishing company, I suppose. 

Soon students around the country will be cracking open a new high school physics textbook, or opening a well-used primary school textbook. Whatever the case, this time of year always feels new, it’s a time of fresh starts, friends to be made, lots to teach and much to learn. To all the teachers out there who are responsible for our children learning, thank you for all you do. To all the students out there, learn everything you can, and have fun while you’re at it!


Step 2: Cover Design

You can preview most of our K12 textbooks at Kendall Hunt Publishing Company's website.

In the previous article, I spoke about the beginning stages of creating a high school science textbook: acquisition and planning, as well as the development of the manuscript and art package. In this article, I'll introduce the design process that we, as an educational publishing company, use.

Around the same time that the copy-editing is being done, we coordinate with a designer to develop the cover image/design. When selecting a cover image for a high school biology textbook, high school chemistry textbook, or any of our textbooks, we look for a good balance of gender and ethnicity in an photos of people that we use. We also consider age-appropriateness for grade-level, whether it’s a primary school textbook vs. secondary school textbooks and whether it’s a product targeted to a specific ability, such as a curriculum for high ability learners.

The cover image needs to be strong and eye-catching and express the concept that we are trying to project for our target market. We want to draw the student into the content. The text/logo-type needs to be nicely balanced and eye-catching as well. We usually request 3-4 choices and may go through several "proofs" to complete the front/spine/back panels of the cover. The text on the back cover is another tool used to interest and draw students into the content. The saying, "you can't judge a book by its cover" is certainly true, however, we need to show something dynamic in order to have potential customers review our products in the first place!


Is the thought of technology in your classroom overwhelming?

How can we keep up with all the new and ever-changing technologies that have kids mesmerized? Teachers often feel overwhelmed with the challenges and options this digital culture presents to students. We want students to take advantage of all technology has to offer; however, how familiar are teachers with technology?  Teachers often throw up their hands and say, “My students know how to work this stuff and I don’t” or “How can I utilize and implement something that I don’t understand?”

The digital world is growing and changing very fast. Technology companies release products so rapidly that there is little time for anyone to stop and think of the many issues that may arise with their use. Too often when schools and districts purchase new digital technology for their elementary school textbooks they look at all the bells and whistles and don’t think of how will this fit into an inquiry based science classroom or a teacher's daily lesson plan.

Technology offers exciting opportunities in the science textbook publishing arena, but for some teachers this strange new world can be intimidating.  Thankfully, there is help available…

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has developed the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students, teachers, and administrators. With these standards, ISTE provides structure for utilizing technology in an effective and responsible way.  This site offers a plethora of information, tips, direction, and support.  You can even visit a school that has embraced the digital world:

As an educational publisher we are committed to assisting teachers to best educate students.  Inspiring teachers to transform their classrooms away from traditional teaching toward a new vision of student-centered learning is our mission. 

We aim to offer technology that is relevant and to provide implementation support in our teacher edition textbooks.  And if you are still struggling with turning on the laptop or downloading the Nano Legends game that came with your KH high school biology textbook, just ask your students for help...they love to show off their expertise.



Random Thoughts of a Book Junkie

 I love what I do.  I love working at an educational publishing company.  I love that we make things that help teachers teach and children learn.  And I love that we still make physical books with covers and pages.  Don’t get me wrong, the digital learning tools, kits and online resources we put out are amazing, and I think they add such an important dimension to our elementary school textbooks, secondary school textbooks and everything in between. 

But for book junkies like me, there’s nothing like a book hot off the press, as it were.  Opening a new book for the first time is a sensory experience.  The first crackles of the adhesive in the spine as I flip open the cover.  The feel of the crisp, new pages as I rifle through them, and the smell.  Oh, that printing press smell.  You’d laugh at us here because we all do it.  We get in a new high school science textbook, for example, and the first thing we do is stick our noses in it to get a whiff of the fresh ink on the new paper.  And I’d hazard a guess that you’d find employees at any other educational textbook publisher doing the same thing.

This has been a lifelong thing for me.  As a child, my mom always wanted me to get books from the library.  Okay, fine, I did, and I love the library, but I wanted to own the book, to keep the book, to watch my books line up on my bookshelves like a literary growth chart, showing me where I’d been and where I might be going.  My son has inherited this from me.  He told me once when I was ranting about the mess in his room, that I could, “get rid of everything but my football, my baseball glove, and my books.”  I almost took him up on it.  It’s no wonder I ended up at a school textbook publisher, my love of books brought me here.  I wonder where his love of books will lead him.


Publishing Step 1: Creating Secondary School Textbook

Kendall Hunt Publishing Company (KH) is an educational publishing company with three divisions: Pre-K-12, higher education and Kendall Hunt Professional.

I work in the Pre-K-12 Division. We produce programs for pre-kindergarten as well as textbooks for elementary school, middle school and high school. We work in various disciplines, but concentrate mainly on mathematics, science, gifted education books and custom publishing. We also develop various ancillary materials to go with our textbooks to create solution-based programs.

For this series of discussions, I'll concentrate specifically on the development of a high school science textbook.

Acquisition and Publishing Plan

The initial step for the education textbook publisher is the acquisition of a new product. This would include discussions between the author or curriculum developer and the publishing acquisition editor to determine whether or not it is feasible to go forward with new product. This would include discussions on the physical specifications of the book (size, number of colors, number of pages, etc.) and number of ancillary components (teacher edition textbook, test generator, website, and so on). At KH, the acquisitions editor would work with a  project manager to determine a budget. We would also work with marketing and sales personnel to develop a publishing plan. The publishing plan may include review stages and/or field testing. The project manager would also create a schedule for the program.

Step 1a: Development of the Manuscript and Art Package

Once a contract is signed for a project, we begin with manuscript development. The project manager works with the author to ensure the manuscript and art package is being prepared properly. We may have the author work within a template in Word or just directly in Word or a similar word processing program. The art package needs to be kept separate from the Word document. One mistake new authors sometimes make is that they try to make their manuscript "pretty." That's our job! We want our authors to concentrate on the writing and we'll concentrate on the publishing.

The high school science textbook is usually submitted by batches of chapters. The chapters are then run through a safety check to be sure the experiments are safe and to add any cautions or warnings that may be needed. They would also develop a materials list for the kit component of the program.

We would also have the manuscript copy-edited. A copy-editor reads the manuscript and checks grammar, spelling and sentence structure. They may also cross reference the student and teacher editions and any other ancillary components to be sure everything makes sense. They will also watch for consistency in the writing style and may be asked to adjust the sentence structures to lower a a certain reading level, if needed. The terms within the content will also play a role in the reading levels. We would have authors review and approve the copy-edits.

At the same time the manuscript is being developed, we work with designers to create the cover and interior designs. I'll discuss that more in my next submission.