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Husband, wife pen third math book


CANTON — A St. Lawrence County couple have teamed up to pen their third mathematics book.

Margaret B. “Meg” Clemens, a high school math teacher at Canton Central School, and Glenn P. Clemens, a high school math teacher at Norwood-Norfolk Central School, recently published “E-Z Algebra 2” as part of the Barron’s E-Z Series.

The book covers algebraic topics that range from linear functions, absolute value functions and polynomial operations to quadratic functions, complex numbers and functions and relations. There are review exercises at the end of each chapter.

“We wrote this last summer. It’s written for the new common core standard,” Mrs. Clemens said.

“This is our third book together. In 2003, we did a book for kids ages 9 to 12 called ‘The Everything Kids’ Math Puzzles Book.’ It was like a workbook for kids. It has three to four puzzles on each page, and they can write on the page,” Mrs. Clemens said.

Their second book was a Regents review book for the Algebra 2 trigonometry examination. It was their first book for the Barron’s Educational Series, which was founded in 1941.

“They read the review book when they’re getting ready for the Regents. It has several practice tests,” Mrs. Clemens said.

Mr. and Mrs. Clemens said their first book came about after they talked with a friend.

“For our very first book, a friend said a publisher was looking for a book on math puzzles for kids. We wrote a proposal, and the publisher liked our proposal,” Mrs. Clemens said. “Like so many things in life, opportunity just drops in your lap.”

Later, she said, Barron’s was looking for people to review manuscripts and obtained her name from a faculty member at SUNY Potsdam.

“They liked the quality of the critiques we gave and told us, ‘We would actually like you to write the books.’ It was a case of being in the right place at the right time,” she said.

Because of their hectic work schedule during the school year, the books are a summer project, Mrs. Clemens said.

“We have no time during the year to do this. We only do them in the summer. That’s the stipulation. When they first offered me ‘E-Z Algebra 2,’ I said I cannot possibly do anything until next summer. They said, ‘We don’t care, we want you to write and we’ll work with your deadline,’” she said.

Mr. and Mrs. Clemens, when they prepare to pen a new book, go through various pre-writing activities, including writing the table of contents and an outline.

“Writing the table of contents and outline for us is actually pretty quick. We spend more time in discussion about how deep do we go because it’s a review book and how difficult to make it. We compromise between making it challenging enough for everybody, but not scaring everybody off,” she said.

They start with the common core standards when writing, Mrs. Clemens said.

“These are the skills kids have to learn. My husband and I have both been teaching a long time. We say these are natural groupings,” she said, noting she and Mr. Clemens were in the Air Force together and then started teaching in 1991.

“We usually sit down and say, ‘OK, I’d like to write these chapters’ and we do a first draft on them,” she said. Then they let each other read what they’ve written. “We’re 10 feet away in the house, but we pass things electronically.”

With “E-Z Algebra 2” under their belts, Mrs. Clemens said they’re hoping to write another book for Barron’s.

“We just submitted another manuscript this summer on forgotten algebra, also for Barron’s. It’s a book for someone returning to college after having been out of high school for a while,” she said.

“They take a placement test and might end up placing at a lower-level math class,” she said. “If they reviewed the material, maybe they would remember some.”

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