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DYI Textbook

To quote Mr. Bigweild, "See a need, fill a need," and that would be how I came to construct a textbook for middle school students to use as a prep tool for their middle school science FCAT exam. While working on another project with the school district science curriculum coordinator it came up that students had an issue of having to take a text that covered three years worth of content, but only had access to the last year's material in the class that they were in. Apparently some people had been asking for review material to provide to the students, but there wasn't currently a comprehensive text that they could use. This science assessment is given to all students in eight grade. The science assessment includes life science, physical and chemical science, earth and space science, and scientific critical thinking questions. This test is actually only quasi-high stakes for student, as the main use of the test is for placement purposes; such as if a student does do poorly, they may be placed into remedial science. But for the schools and teachers this may be more high stakes as the test results and included in the teacher, school, and district evaluation. As I did teach middle and high school for a good number of years and am certified across multiple areas of science and am now an educational technologist, I said that I thought that I could help.

I started the process by examining the the Science FCAT 2.0 test parameters and standards. For example below is a sample section of the standards for the Big Idea about the Practice of Science.

Big Idea 1 The Practice of Science

Grade 6 Benchmark
Grade 7 Benchmark
Grade 8 Benchmark
SC.6.N.1.4 Discuss, compare, and negotiate methods used, results obtained, and explanations among groups of students conducting the same investigation.

Assessed as SC.7.N.1.2.
SC.7.N.1.4 Identify test variables (independent variables) and outcome variables (dependent variables) in an experiment.

Assessed as SC.8.N.1.1.
SC.8.N.1.4 Explain how hypotheses are valuable if they lead to further investigations, even if they turn out not to be supported by the data.

Assessed as SC.8.N.1.1.
SC.6.N.1.5 Recognize that science involves creativity, not just in designing experiments, but also in creating explanations that fit evidence.

Not Assessed.
SC.7.N.1.5 Describe the methods used in the pursuit of a scientific explanation as seen in different fields of science such as biology, geology, and physics.

Also assesses SC.7.N.3.2, SC.8.N.1.5, and SC.8.E.5.10. AA MC
SC.8.N.1.5 Analyze the methods used to develop a scientific explanation as seen in different fields of science.

Assessed as SC.7.N.1.5.

The design of the finished textbook would be to have an etextbook in multiple formats that included content from all the Big Ideas of Science that associated with the test. To build this etextbook, I used the tools and materials provided by, which allowed me to create an etextbook that is freely available to any that want it for reading online, as PDF or in ereader formats of EPUB and MOBI (a Kindle associated format). I analyzed the Big Idea and the standards, then developed key words to search the CK12 collection. Then I would usually choose the conceptual findings to include as sections of a chapter based on the Science Big Idea which was then added to the book. I don't see this as writing the textbook, but more like assembling (so I guess that counts as being an editor), an etextbook

The finished etextbook included the four science areas: Nature of Science; Earth & Space; Physical Science; Life Science and the 18 Big Ideas in science. Actually the 18 Big Ideas became the chapter titles:
     go to etextbook
  1. The Practice of Science; 
  2. The Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge; 
  3. The Role of Theories, Laws, Hypotheses, and Models; 
  4. Science and Society; 
  5. Earth in Space and Time; 
  6. Earth Structures; 
  7. Earth Systems and Patterns; 
  8. Properties of Matter; 
  9. Changes in Matter; 
  10. Forms of Energy; 
  11. Energy Transfer and Transformations; 
  12. Motion of Objects; 
  13. Forces and Changes in Motion; 
  14. Organization and Development of Living Organisms; 
  15. Diversity and Evolution of Living Organisms; 
  16. Heredity and Reproduction; 
  17. Interdependence; 
  18. Matter and Energy Transformations. 

  19. The introduction to each section included the associated required standards for the three grade levels, and I added a chapter with state practice test questions that students could use to review and check themselves with.

    Feel free to share the link to any other Florida middle school science teacher or student. The CK12 etextbook tools were easy to use:


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