Adventures in Customizing Textbooks

Our first book has hit the classrooms. This is a huge experiment in using open source text books. LKSD has implemented our first customized Biology Text district wide.  We customized a book using templates and tools made available through and their Flexbook platform.

My interest began as I struggled to use commercial books that were loaded with academic language and lengthy chapters filled with thousands of concepts at once. I was searching for books that would be ESL friendly, but still rich in content and rigorous. The books are arranged in concepts vs chapters which present a more digestible chunk of knowledge at one time. We can also edit the book and use our own analogies and local pictures and terms.  A team of teachers worked on customizing these books over the summer. Books are available in print and digital format.

KYUK recently did a news story about our efforts.

Personalize Learning with Braingenie

Some of my students miss classes for extended periods of time or prefer to utilize a computer tutorial that provides them with specific immediate feedback. If you look closely at the links in CK-12 flex books, you will find a tool called Braingenie. It is an open source tool that allows you to set customized goals that align to Ck-12 flex books within a video tutorial system. I offer this to students as an independent alternative to class work. Oddly enough, most of my students choose to work on assignments that we do together in class. It is nice to have this as a back up. I have found that some students respond well to this tool for difficult subjects. I also like to assign how it tracks students that are at different places at the same time.


Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 3.25.19 PM


[tweetthis]Personalize student learning in science with Braingenie (open source)[/tweetthis]

Blog Regeneration

Yes, its that time of the year, were I dust off my blog and rethink my purpose in maintaing this site. Maybe it  has something to do with the nice blanket of snow and a warm fire…

This is my 8th year of teaching distance learning science courses, but my first year of telecommuting from home and not teaching from the district office. A perfect opportunity for me to stop missing the hallway chit chat and develop a new style. Last night I had the opportunity to join other Alaska teachers in a Google Hangout with Paul Anderson of Bozeman Science. A few weeks ago, I reconnected with some of the distance learning educators in Wisconsin to seek ideas. One friday a month, I meet with my co-workers at the district office through video conferencing.  Now that my professional community is 99% digital, I feel it is time to become a more effective social networker. So I am going to try something new with the Andrea’s Virtual Science Teaching Adventure Blog. 

I plan to refine the audience to other distance learning and blended learning enthusiasts with large dose of science. I am going to use the following categories to focus my posts and challenge myself to develop in each of these areas:

  • Personalizing the distance learning experience
  • Facilitating interaction and participation in the DL classroom
  • How do you “do” science inquiry at a distance?
  • Feedback loops that improve the learning experience
  • Presentation style and course design

Please contact me at if you would like to share any thoughts, resources or comments.