Collaborative Literacy Print Materials: The Process

Client: Center for the Collaborative Classroom

Category: Educational Publishing

Scope: product design, curriculum design, and packaging

Project Objectives: The goal of this project was to create a complete literacy curriculum to compete head-to-head with larger publishers in the highly competitive educational market. Previously, Collaborative Classroom had focused primarily on publishing supplemental materials to use in tandem with, or to fill in the gaps of, established competitors’ curricula.

grade 4 exploded package components including Making Meaning and Being a Writer

Collaborative Literacy Package, Grade 4

Integrating academic rigor and social-emotional learning instruction, this product line is comprised of three programs (two of which existed as previous editions): Being a Writer (writing), Making Meaning® (comprehension), and Being a Reader (foundational skills). This massive project encompassed the design of interior text and exterior packaging, including all digital materials. Learn more at Package illustrations are by Margaret Lee, Tatsuro KiuchiJing Jing Tsong, and Michael Wertz.

See the Creative Literacy: Digital Resources here.

To learn more about this project, see this case study.

Learn more about the organization and this product here.

Assumptions and Considerations

This product line consists of three strands for grades K–6, which can be taught together or modularly.

  • All programs include:
    • print teacher’s manuals and student books, assessments, trade books, and ancillary materials.
    • access to digital materials to support teacher lesson preparation and professional development, as well as student learning.
    • an assessment system and implementation guide.
  • Potential users include:
    • classroom teachers and students
    • professional development trainers and literacy specialists.
    • administrators and other district leaders.
  • The combined product line should have a cohesive, branded look, and should:
    • feel friendly, accessible, and distinctive.
    • communicate the partner work aspect of programs.
    • communicate academic rigor and social-emotional learning.
    • keep the names of the existing products (two of which existed as previous editions).
    • use artistic interpretations of photos so they don’t look dated in the future.
    • incorporate existing grade-level color identifiers, but balance those colors with a new program-level color scheme.
    • retain the shelf box packaging structure used in other products.
    • have an interior text design that works in only two colors.

’Berta’s Role

Working directly with a cross-departmental team of writers, editors, producers, print production staff, programmers, and key stakeholders, ‘Berta:

  • created a new branded look and feel for the three programs.
  • met with key stakeholders throughout the process to generate creative briefs, sketches, mockups, and final designs—presenting and getting “buy in” at every stage of the process.
  • sourced and hired a large team of designers and illustrators including six designers and over 20 illustrators JUST to complete the controlled-vocabulary sets for Being a Reader (see below).
  • hired three illustrators with different, yet complementary styles to differentiate the product covers, and directed them to adapt their work to reflect K–6 grade-range progression.
  • tackled a complicated packaging scheme considering the materials and usage pattern.
  • managed all art and design schedules and budgets for the project.
  • continued the established branding on digital pieces, including: ePUBs, video resources, whiteboard activities, tablet apps, and online courses.

’Berta’s Process: Sketches

’Berta presented various concepts to key stakeholders. As the project progressed, she honed the concepts toward a final design solution.

product cover sketches

Cover Sketches

refined product cover designs

Refined Cover Sketches

product shelf boxes

Final Packaging Solution

  • Shelf box packaging solution used successfully in other Collaborative Classroom products
  • Features sturdy construction and ease of access
  • Color-coded to differentiate the three programs from each other, yet reflect a cohesive line look

Final Cover Designs

  • Incorporate the line look with program differentiation
  • Feature a secondary illustration for packaging, background texture, and icon use
  • Grade 2 example of the three program’s Teacher’s Manual covers
teacher's manual covers

Making Meaning, Being a Writer, and Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual Covers

Package Contents: Being a Writer Example Shown

Each grade-level classroom package includes:

  • all the materials and resources a teacher needs to plan and teach the programs, including built-in instructional support.
    • manuals, assessment books, student books, ancillaries (cards, posters, media), trade books, all in a branded shelf box
    • access to online tutorials and courses, apps, digital books, and other online resources

Being a Writer Classroom Package, Grade 3

Final Interior Text Design

  • Common interior template design to aid teachers in using multiple programs
  • Color-coded, two-color interiors coordinated to exterior packaging (purple, orange or green, depending on the program)
  • Included some alterations to accommodate additional lessons structure such as in Being a Reader

Realia Texts and Trade Books

Transcontinental Railroad Article

An example of the extensive “realia” created for the Being a Writer program as controlled content for students to experience text and text features

Rosie the Riveter: Women in a Time of War

Written and published by Collaborative Classroom for use in the Making Meaning program, this nonfiction book recounts the history of women in the workforce during WWII, and the change in women’s societal roles after the end of the war.

book cover and interior spread

Book Cover and Spread

Controlled-vocabulary Readers

  • Written and designed for inclusion in the Being a Reader program
  • Includes 68 controlled-vocabulary texts written, designed, and published by Collaborative Classroom
  • Designed for small-group reading instruction
  • Includes fiction and nonfiction books, with leveled text, on a variety of topics
  • Features text and topics ranging in complexity as the student’s reading level advances
  • Includes original illustrations and sourced photography
book covers on a table

Various Controlled-vocabulary Book Covers

Final Results

  • Collaborative Classroom successfully launched an extensive curriculum offering to complete head-to-head with more established publishers, creating a branded line look that got noticed in the marketplace.
  • The organization proved it’s programs can compete against much larger established publishers in the highly competitive educational market by being chosen many times over these publishers for district-wide adoptions.
  • Over 80,000 teachers and over two million students use Collaborative Classroom programs in their classrooms.
  • The first full year of Collaborative Literacy suite availability yielded record sales of $25 million for the organization—its best sales year to date.