Apple™, Education, iPad, Technology, Technology Integration

Rewriting History with Book Creator

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!

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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.

Enjoy.Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.50.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 11.50.40 AM

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Conference Presentation

The Invisible iPad – Audience Perspectives

 

An inspiring conversation during my  The Invisible iPad – Significant Learning Experiences Without Losing Your iPad session at EdTechTeacher’s Summit (ettsumit.org)

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Education, iPad, PBL, Technology, Technology Integration, Uncategorized

A Historical Approach to the Invisible iPad

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.

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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.

 

 

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Education, Technology Integration

21st Century Competencies: Nothing And Everything To Do With Technology

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 There is no denying that current technology trends in education are here to stay. Whether you choose Apple, Samsung, Google, or Amazon, the platforms, companies, and devices will come and go, but the learning outcomes they produce are everlasting. The user experience might be different, but the goals for their use are the same; We want our learners to be able to achieve 21st-Century Competencies. It is evident that these technology tools allow learners to gain these skills while achieving faster and higher quality products, through a more efficient and practical processes. This is why

21st Century Competencies have nothing and everything to do with technology.

 In fall of last year I began to research how to support learners’ and educators’ understanding of 21st-Century Competencies. I discovered many amazing resources, but felt that each one lacked one key component. Acquiring 21st-Century Competencies cannot be defined through the lens of the technology itself. It must be through the lens of what the technology allows us to create and the experience gained. 21st-Century Competencies are about social interaction that helps connect individuals in a way that achieves a more developed and meaningful outcome. This has absolutely nothing to do with technology as it is nothing but a connector between two or more people.

21st-Century Competencies allow for strong, independent learners that are highly functional in environments that require advanced skills in collaboration and human interaction, aka the real world.  

The challenge was to concretize this process in a way that could achieve measurable results including the hope that through developing a formalized process, learners and educators would be more open to failure. This means that even though we did not “solve” the problem this time, we still gained skills in organization, collaboration, communication, as well as a better understanding of the process of problem solving and critical thinking. This process also allows for a reflective and revisionist process where learners can continue to work on identifying strengths and weaknesses in the project and in themselves. This is because learning is not always about solving the problem, it is also about gaining a deeper understanding through experimentation and discovery, with the understanding that even failure can lead to a significant learning experience.

Together with my colleague, Samantha Pack, we set out to create a rubric that would support the development of 21st-Century Competencies with the following criteria in mind:

1. A clear definition of each of the 21st-Century Competencies.

2. Ability to measure proficiency in each of the 21st-Century Competencies.

3. A universal approach that will support the development of 21st-Century Competencies regardless of discipline.

4. Ability for learners to achieve skills through reflection and revision.

5. To ensure that the 21st century competencies work together with various pedagogical models.

In June during a PD Workshop with middle school faculty, I shared the rubric to get feedback for the final draft slated for launch in the fall. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The faculty described it as supportive but not restricting, giving students the ability to capture the essential idea of each skill, and assist them in becoming independent learners with the ability to assess their own performance. One faculty member said,

This rubric doesn’t describe how to use technology, this rubric describes how to be human.

Ladies and Gentleman, we have arrived. This is the true purpose of technology. Its ability to help us build relationships, foster personal growth, and truly arrive at a better more connected global community.

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I will be sharing this rubric at my session “The Invisible iPad – Significant Learning Experiences Without Actually Losing Your iPad” at the EdTechTeacher Summit July 28th-30th at the Navy Pier in Chicago.

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App Fluency, Apple™, EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, Education, iPad, Technology

The Invisible iPad

InvisibleiPad

If this event becomes a meeting about how we got rid of power cords, extended battery life, and solved workflow challenges with some neat app, then we fail.

The iPad summit is not about the iPad

With these words, Greg Kulowiec  had me hooked. Since the launch of the iPad in 2010, we have seen a revolutionary transformation in how we create, consume, and communicate. Whether the iPad is an authentic educational tool is not relavant, because

it’s not about the iPad.

Is the automobile an authentic education tool? What about the refrigerator? Revolutionary inventions are not about the invention itself, but whats the invention gives use the ability to do. A truly revolutionary invention should in time become invisible. No longer is it viewed as something special, yet its effects are far reaching. The lightbulb changed the way the world functioned. The world was no longer bound to productivity during daylight, or the length of time it takes your oil lamp to burn up. It was about what you would be able to do because now there was a constant and stable source of light.

While the iPad does a little more than a lightbulb, its success in eduction is on the principle that the iPad does the same for learners as the lightbulb.

It liberates us from the limitations of creative tools, the challenges of access to quality content, as well as our source of inspiration, and innovation being based on geographic location. 

Yes, the iPad needs to be invisible because we are searching for something deeper than a manipulative touch screen device. We are looking to start a conversation, create a personal expression, and to fashion a brick in a collaborative digital structure.

Before the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit, I understood the philosophy, but I lacked the language to express it with words like App Fluency and App Smashing, as well as the support of like minded visionaries with more experience than myself. This and more I found at the #ettipad conference. In the past I have written about the process of integrating technology into education and its correlation to the experience of building something by hand. When we build something, our tools are chosen keeping in mind their quality, versatility, and ease of use. A responsible individual does not put someone in front of a table saw and say, “Good Luck!”, so why do we drop an iPad in someones lap and do just that? Cutting off a finger is not the only danger of using technology wrong, and I see it time and time again with the iPad.

The iPad isnt a great way to take a test, or read a book, or even create a movie. It isn’t enough to change how we use the iPad, but why we use the iPad, or any other device for that matter.

We use technology to liberate ourselves from mundane robotic like tasks that lack any sort of creative drive or purpose. A robot can memorize 100 vocabulary words, the question is now, what do we do with those words? Do we use them for creative expression, or do we let them collect dust in the deep recesses of our brain? Technology is not here to make us lazy, or to avoid basic communication skills, but

it is here to make us think critically, solve problems, collaborate, communicate, create, and ideate. 

These words have far surpassed cliché status in education, as if they are the key to tagging successful learning outcomes, but the truth is that when the iPad is invisible, you really get to see those words in action.

As long as our focus is on learning outcomes and the experience it brings, then the this just might be the best iPad experience yet.

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