GLOVERSVILLE —It was just over three years ago that Gloversville High School teacher Len Martin, and his longtime friend and Syracuse professor, Jerry Evensky, co-authored and published the textbook “Economics for NYS High School Students.” Now they have released their second textbook, a universal version of their popular first edition that can be utilized in classrooms across the country.
The first book released received such a positive response from educators and students that the two teamed up once again to make a more universal version. The pair feels the success of the book comes from the way it is written, which is unlike many of the other more dated options. Martin said there are other text book options on the market, but he and Evensky felt like none of them were on a level that was relatable to teenagers.
“I’ve been working with high school students for over 30 years, and I raised three myself, so I know how they speak and what speaks to them. We wrote the book in a narrative form that tells a story that is relatable. There are a lot of watered down version textbooks but none that we found that speaks to students,” said Martin.
Economics, Martin admits, can be boring when you are just reading facts from a book. He said the response that he and Evensky got after their 2018 release, was that teachers were finding the subject matter more fun to teach and students were responding to that. Economics is a required New York state social studies class, taken primarily in 12th grade. Martin said by their senior year, students need to be kept engaged, so making economics something that they can connect with is important.
“By writing in the way we did, like a story, it becomes a fun way, a really neat way, of teaching,” said Martin.
Martin said the book has been well received over the past couple years and can be found in many area high schools. What happened next, Martin said, is that calls started coming in from neighboring states like Massachusetts and New Jersey asking for a version that they could teach. Martin said he and Evensky took a look at what they wrote and reconfigured the version to become universal by simply modifying the material that was New York state specific.
Changing the book and getting it published was met by certain pandemic related roadblocks, but Martin said they were able to get it completed in time for the 2021-2022 school year. He explains In a post-pandemic world, students’ social-emotional needs are more important than ever and they felt having that narrative approach in a textbook is both “personal and comforting.”
“We managed to take what we wrote and make it accessible for all, and in a pandemic no less,” said Martin.
Both books, “Economics for NYS High School Students” and “Accessible Economics,” are strategically kept short, at about 200 pages. It’s divided into 11 chapters that Martin said are easily digestible. Each chapter begins with a set of questions used to help the transition to the new inquiry-based model for social studies instruction in New York state. The book is accompanied by a set of PowerPoints for each chapter to help tell the story as well as a test bank for each chapter.
Martin said he first met Evensky in 1992 during a week-long seminar at Syracuse University. He was training to teach economics 203 for the Syracuse University Project Advance. The two remained close friends and often discussed the need for a more friendly way to teach the subject, eventually deciding to tackle the problem themselves.
“One thing we really focused on was the need for an economics textbook that could accommodate a wide range of learners,” said Martin.
Martin said that one of their selling points is that their only focus is economic. They aren’t trying to sell books that cover several subjects, they are literally all about economics.
“Finding a way to teach this specific material is truly something that I have found so gratifying,” said Martin.
Martin said he and Evensky have evolved in their use of technology since the first book release several years ago. They have incorporated technology that has allowed them to self-publish on demand, so they can considerably reduce production costs. Martin admits that he and Evensky aren’t active social media users but they are working to change that in an effort to get the word out about their textbooks.
“I enlisted the help of my daughters for the social media aspect. It serves as a good marketing tool with a built in audience so we hope to have a presence there,” said Martin.
Martin has taught social studies at Gloversville High School since 1991, and has been named a master teacher by the Upstate New York History Alliance. Through the Syracuse University Project Advance program, Martin teaches economics, sociology, and personal finance to students at both Gloversville High and other area schools via the distance learning network. He also teaches AP United States history, and has served as social studies department chair for many years.
More information on the textbook, including information on how to purchase it, can be found at https://accessibleecon.com.