There is something powerful about the spoken word. When it’s accompanied by a striking visual it can leave the listener thinking, wondering, looking for more. It is this auditory advantage that can bring amazing life and dynamic to your classroom. It is through such a medium that we can take our student learning to a very new and different place. Recording isn’t new to education, but it has throughout the 20th-Century been mainly a consuming experience. Continue reading
One of the challenges of teaching history is that it doesn’t change much. While there may be a discovery here and there, it is rare that any sort of drastic discovery might alter the learning experience of a student in history class. Thanks to various technology innovations like the internet and computing technology, this challenge can also be turned into history. That is if as an educator we are willing to be open to the possibility that we are not the all knowing fountain of knowledge, and that our 20-year old textbook might need an upgrade? But who can afford textbooks?!!?
Worry not! We have a classroom of historical researchers and thinkers and the tools to empower them to create their own history book.
In an 8th-grade history class, we did just that. In collaboration with Ilana Zadok, 8th-grade history teacher, we set out to challenge our students to build their own Revolutionary War publication. We wanted it to be something that is 100% student-produced with the goal that others could learn and in the end benefit from the students work. Our students set out to research various events of the Revolutionary War, focusing on primary sources and first-hand encounters. With this research in hand students because to create a window into the past. Through creative writing, photos, and student-produced films these events began to take life through the lens of the students. With all of this amazing content gathered and produced we were at a loss of where to compile it and share it out.
Book Creator to the Rescue!
After the content was created students imported it into Book Creator and used its features to layout an interactive book full of written, visual, and audial expressions. Each group of students then created an assessment quiz at the end to demonstrate their understanding of the content and to challenge their peers to delve deep into their work. In the end students learned from their peers gaining a deep understanding of a specific Revolutionary event and a general overview of the entire war. With the success of this unit, there was so much more accomplished besides the memorization of battles and soldiers. Students developed important skills in communication, both visually, and verbally. Collaboration, Cooperation, Organization, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving all played a role in this production.
The end result was an 110-page publication that pushed the limits of student learning and technology itself. The Book Creator file was 1GB and due to its size would not export from the iPad. With a little bit of praying and 4 hours of work on my part, I was able to get the file down to 610MB without sacrificing one iota of student work and airdrop it to the students iPads to experience their hard work first hand.
Here are a few screenshots and videos from the publication.
I am honored and excited to run a guest post by Ilana Zadok, a colleague, and a talented and innovative educator. Ilana and I have worked over the past two years on a project that supports student led learning of the Revolutionary War. Without further adieu, enjoy the article.
by: Ilana Zadok, 8th Grade Educator
Gone are the days of teachers at the front of the room telling students which pages to flip in the History textbook for the sake of memorizing dates and facts.
Here are the days of the teacher facilitating learning as students conduct independent research to become mini experts on a topic and then collaborating grade-wide to create a digital book using the app Book Creator.
After receiving mini lessons on research, newspaper article writing and design and layout 8th graders set out on a month long journey to learn and discover the events leading up to and including Revolutionary War. This wasn’t an iPad lesson to enhance a unit.
This was a project that through the use of technology supported learning by the students for the students.
Let me explain.
The timeline was divided and each pairing of students chose an event. They were responsible for researching their event taking into account the various perspectives of the time and referencing authentic primary sources-this is in line with the Historical Thinking methodology of teaching History which is the backbone of this class.
Each group was responsible for the creation of a 7-9 page digital book using the app Book Creator which included:
- 2 student written newspaper articles highlighting two different points of view. For example, one article was from the British perspective while the other was from the Patriot perspective.
- 1 image per page
- 2 uses of original audio
- 2 original videos
- A 5 question assessment which matched the creators goals for understanding
- A design and layout that stayed true to the time period and considered the emotions being evoked in the content.
Students were encouraged to make very thoughtful choices as to how the various parts worked to enhance their overall message. They understood that each piece had to serve a certain purpose. They were pushed to articulate what that purpose was.
After 1 week of research and 2 weeks of creation, the students were ready to combine their books.
For the next few days, each student individually with headphones in their ears focussed and interested read through the digital book created by their peers.
In order to hold the students accountable for the content, each student wrote 3 level 3 QAR (Question-Answer Relationship) questions for each mini book in which they had to show that they were thinking about the text.
The students then began the process of reflection in which they gave feedback to their peers for each book in regards to design, layout and content thoroughness.
Lastly, they wrote paragraphs assessing how the process of using Book Creator impacted their own personal learning.
This unit was a success! Book Creator allowed the students the room and flexibility to bring their interests and talents to the table. One student used an animation app to fulfill the video requirement, where another student created a piece of music to fulfill the audio requirement. They extended their research to learn about the clothing, food, and more. They were able to give each other compliments and constructive criticism that was based on the language used in the mini lessons. And, they showed content knowledge.
To highlight the success, here are two of my favorite anecdotes:
One student asked if I’d consider offering the combined book to next year’s class as their textbook. That showed me that he had such pride in his work and felt that the quality was worthy of substituting other resources.
But my ultimate measure of success was a shy boy who struggles to learn came over to me weeks after the completion of the project to thank me for the experience of creating the iBook. He said that he feels that he really understands the Revolutionary War period because of it.
Thank me for learning??!! Didn’t see that coming.