Social Studies for the 21st Century
This chapter chronicles the important highlights in the design and development of a social studies textbook. The product, Houghton Mifflin's K-8 Social Studies Program, was produced in partnership with Ligature, a R & D firm specializing in the design of instructional materials. The account focuses on Ligature's innovative role in this product development covering a period of time which runs roughly from the fall of 1988 to spring of 1990. It begins with a background profile of the firm. Pivotal to this account is the firm's unique mission to advance educational innovation through its evolving visual/verbal design philosophy.
Following this biographical synopsis, a broad overview of Ligature's first critical movements in planning for the Social Studies Program is discussed. Those opening investigatory movements are accounted for in the firm's internal planning document, "Social Studies for the 21st Century," or SS21 as it was called inhouse. SS21 is more than just an initial market survey and research document. Although it provides the essential conceptual map of the key stages of product development for the K-8 program (a big picture of the project's trajectory), it more importantly situates all these in-house activities and procedures as fundamentally derived from Ligature's mission to advance a visual/verbal design approach in the creation of instructional materials.
Typically, the SS21 document can serve as a paradigm statement for the traditional stages of textbook development. Generally, development can be broken down into three successive stages: "pre-production, development, and production" ( Young, 1990). Ligature generally adhered to this accepted standard and proceeded no differently. In presentation, this chapter will similarly follow this three-part process. Discussion of Pre-production will highlight development activities at this stage: Ligature's national competitive analysis and market survey (as found in the SS21 document), its national market testing of textbook prototypes, and its assessment of the impact the California State Framework for History-Social Science.
Consideration of the Development process, while initially focusing on basic in-house organizational planning and procedure, will show how these steps culminated in the Thumbnail Process, which reflects the essential tenet of
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Publication information: Book title: The Visual Turn and the Transformation of the Textbook. Contributors: James Andrew LaSpina - Author. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 7.
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