I have been using a fantastic app called Book Creator. This app allows users to create a digital book with the ability to insert a wide range of digital media. I have been using this app as the centre of a variety of different Challenge Based Learning tasks and have found it
to be a very effective way for students to share their work, reflect develop quality work samples that they can share with the world in the iBook store. I have been using this app for many years and I would like to share with you a very effective unit I created which used Book Creator to not only enhance but redefine my students work to a point that their work become global.
The unit focused on students developing a deeper understanding of informative writing with a sub focus on procedural writing.
Students were set a challenge to create a book that would take readers through a procedure of their choice. The book had to be accessible to every single person in the world. With this challenge in mind, students set out to search for a way this was possible. Eventually, my students came across Book Creator in which they called ‘the perfect book making app’. They discovered that this Book creating app had a huge variety of different features that would allow them to make a book that is assessable to everyone.
Book Creator allow
ed my students to have a blank canvas where they could be innovative, creative and really think outside the square. They designed their books (links below) and then we uploaded them to the iBooks store. The next thing that happened was the most exciting thing for my students, they saw their work being downloaded by people around the world! They discovered countries they hadn’t heard of and could go and research, they received real world feedback from individuals and classes from around the world and developed cultural awareness. We have had nearly 2000 downloads of our book from countries all over the world! We decided to create a world map where we would pin point the different countries that have downloaded out book.
The day I was asked by an Apple Distinguished Educator if he could share my story at a large accessibility international conference was very exciting and my students could not believe that their work was so important to the world.
Through this experience using Book Creator my students become motivated, reflective learners who developed global knowledge, cultural awareness and a very deep understanding of informative text such as procedures. Their vocabulary and deep knowledge around this area grew and blossomed.
Book Links-Click on a book to take a look!
Book Creator Website:
As I walked through the halls of St Ursula in Horn, The Netherlands, I heard laughing and ‘chirps’ of excitement coming from a classroom. As I politely knocked on the door, I was greeted by a very enthusiastic teacher who welcomed me into her Year 8 classroom. She explained that these students were just finishing off an assessment! I have never seen such positively motivated students completing an exam before. Usually these environments are full of fear, anxiety and dread but this was a different story! To complete this assessment they were using a web app called Kahoot.
Kahoot is an online application that I saw used on a number of occasions at St Ursula. The teacher uses an Internet browser to create the quiz after a free sign up to the web 2.0 tool. Teachers are able to add images, questions and short videos to the quiz followed by four multiple choice answers for students to choose from.
The teacher then provide students with a code to enter the quiz on their individual device, they release each question to the whole classes and students have a limited amount of time to answer the question individually. It is possible for the teacher to display the points of each student in a public place (such as the IWB) throughout the game. For the students in the classes I was observing this was very important and helped student to become more engaged. The correct answer is displayed on the device allowing for immediate feedback and the game continues.
This gamification approach to assessment provides teachers with a lot of data and allows a students’ thinking time to become more visible. The application records whether the student answered the question correctly and how long it took for the student to respond to the query. This assists the teacher in seeing how much time was spent choosing a correct (or incorrect) answer. These results can then be uploaded to Google Docs allowing for it to be referred to at a later point for reporting to students, parents and assessment for learning.
I observed a teacher who was using the software to check students’ prior knowledge. The educator was using Kahoot to pre assess Year Seven students during a PDHPE lesson. Every single student during the assessment was highly engaged and was very excited to be apart of the learning experience. I was concerned that showing students result publically may worry some students however; it only helped them. Students would see that some students were falling behind in points and would encourage each other to keep pushing and think differently. The level of technical vocabulary when students were assisting each other was high and useful. I even heard some acronyms being used to try and jog each other’s memories.
After the pre assessment, the teacher showed me the results. They were very detailed and provided some powerful which showed a very clear gap in the classes knowledge and allowed her to prepare her lessons to fill the students knowledge gaps.
On Kahoot there are also options to create a discussion or survey. I am still yet to delve deeply into these two options but will let you know how I go with my class when I try them out.
I had the absolute pleasure of learning with Class BK1. This class had been developed to assist these students in further building social skills and provided them with further academic assistance. As soon as I walked into the room I was great with 10 smiling faces and many different questions from these Year 7-9 students.
The very first thing I noticed when working with this class was their ability to speak
English. Out of all of the classrooms throughout Sint
Ursula I walked into, these learners were all fluent in English. These students had a better handle on English than most of the teachers at the school. There was even one student who had chosen to use an English accent when he spoke as it made him feel like a doctor and he also wanted to feel unique. After hundreds and hundreds of questions, which I was more than happy to answer, I asked if I could ask one. It was a simple but very important! ‘How did you learn to speak English?’
Each student was very proud and excited to share his or her story. All of these learners were very interested in gaming whether it is Call of Duty, Minecraft or Pokèmon Go. Within these games there is often a place to chat with other players or short videos showing how to complete a level or to explain the next step. Students also enjoyed watching game walkthroughs and similar videos on YouTube. These students found that most of the time these were in English, which provided them with a challenge. How can they best play their chosen game? Students said they use to watch hours of YouTube and spend a long time in game time chat rooms speaking and listening to English (please note it is important that students are aware of digital citizenship and are always supervised when using the internet. This is a short case student discussion the power of motivation and immersion). Through this immersion in the language these learners of BK1 were soon practicing English daily allowing them to quickly master the language.
This experiences shows the power of motivation. These students had the motivation to feel enjoyment and to be entertained. In order to achieve this, students needed to learn English. This motivation allowed for what Dr A Martin (2003) described as the energy and drive to learn, work effectively and achieve at school in order to attain a satisfying outcome. Throughout this visit I have further discovered the power motivation has on a learner. It additional concretes the notion that the process of learning doesn’t begin with an idea or a process it begins with a motivation. This in turn creates a lover of learning as demonstrated in BK1.
This experiences then leads to the power of gamafication and it’s impact of students through motivation and immersion.
During my visit to St Ursula, Horn, Netherlands, I saw some fantastic examples of how to use iTunes U incorporating Google Apps EDU in the classroom. The focus of these courses was to assist in making very clear and cohesive links between subjects allowing students to focus on one project yet achieving the outcomes for each subject though inquiry, challenged and problem based learning.
The first iTunes U course I was introduced to was concentrating on the integration of Physics and Music. The focus was on ‘sound’. Students investigated the relationship between the two subjects. During physics students focused on the pitch of sound, the
sound waves and frequencies produced and how they transmit. During music students also focused on pitch but also what different instruments make different sounds, the creation of music and composing music. This relationship between the two subjects allowed for students to become immersed within the subject therefore developing a deeper understanding of the subject. Some of the milestones students needed to reach through the projects include the creation of videos, and short books using book creator. All of this information was then submitted to the teacher through Google Classroom and then stored in Google Drive. I
t was very effective, easy for students to submit work and allowed the teacher to provide immediate feedback.
The second project was still continuing during my visit to the school. It was integrating three different subjects, Mathematics, Physics and PDHPE (Gym). The focus was on movement and velocity with many different subjects being taught incidentally. I was very lucky to speak with two of the teachers involved in creating the iTunes U course. One of my focuses was to see how the content was delivered especially in Mathematics. This subject often lends to teachers explaining a skill or concept and then helping the students to practice this newly learnt skill.
The periods or lessons at St Ursula last between 40 and 45 minutes. During this short period of time, for students to work on a challenged based task and be taught explicitly the skill of each lesson would make for a very rushed lesson.
Ruud, the Mathematics teacher described to me the process he us
ed to over come this. It was very exciting to here this as it reflected what I do in my classroom. It seems within the
Active Learning Model St Ursula has adopted Bruner’s 5E has been employed as a lesson or unit sequence. Ruud would provide the focus on the lesson or milestone to the students through the use of the iTunes U course. He would then allow his learners to explore the mathematical concept they were learning through videos he had created, searching on websites and though collaborative discussion and learning. He would then help students to consolidate their learning though providing a more instructional based learning approach and working with individuals or groups who needed extra support. Ruud said after taking on this approach he has seen huge changes in his students’ marks and motivation to learn. He found that students were more willing to complete the task at home due to easy of access and were happy to remain after lessons to continue working.
Vivian used a similar method to Ruud during her Physics classes. I was lucky enough to see the next stage of the project where students had learnt, interpreted and coded the information they needed. They were to then apply this information to the task of creating an informative iBook about the topic using book creator. Students were constantly referring back to video’s created by Vivian, new clips they found on YouTube and finding
informative websites. This allowed students to continually consolidate they understanding of the task becoming independent learners. Through this whole process each group of students were at different stages on the task allowing for a differentiated approach.
I spoke with a couple of students to see what their thoughts were on using iTunes U, Book Creator, YouTube and iPads in the classroom. Most students had a positive attitude towards the use of this software. They found that the software and devices empowered them as learners and provided them with the opportunity to explore parts of their learning that interested them deeply. One student however did not enjoy using the iPad in class as she felt it distracted their learning. They were happy to share that they could not control their ‘want’ to play games such as Call of Duty, watch Netflix or YouTube clips that were off topic. To assist this Vivian used an app called_____ to help this student. This app is part of an MDM suite and can be controlled by both teachers and parents.
This does seem to be a continuing challenge for many students. Using other apps such as Casper’s, Focus app and Apple Classroom can assist in solving these challenges. In my own experience, I have also seen students become distracted by ‘choice’. That is, when using apps such as Book Creator and Comic Life 3 students have some many different options of colour font and design to choice from that often this can distract them.
Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to meet the PDHPE teacher however, one app, which I saw being used during the Physics class that related to PDHPE, was ‘Technique’. This app seemed very appropriate for Physics, PDHPE and Mathematics
. At the stage where I saw students using the app, they were creating angles of their limbs while
running and then comparing these angles with a professional runner therefore allowing
them to improve their own skills and to become a faster (please see the appdate blog post on Technique). To further extend students, I think it would be interesting to compare the running styles of long distance and short distance runners. An investigation could be, how does the angle of runners limbs change when running different distances. Another idea could include students studying the change in limb angles over the distance of a race. Students could create graphs of this change and the compare different athletes.
Some hints I learnt during my visit
– Bold and capitalise the action verbs through out the task. This brings students attention to the word quickly and explicitly tells them what skill they should be using
– Creating your own content. It is a lot easier to create your own videos, images and so on. Even though this may be more time consuming it removes the concern of copyright later on down the track.
It was a fantastic experiencing seeing iTunes U in use. I really enjoyed hearing reflections from students and staff.
I have had and amazing experience of visiting schools around Europe over the past month. I have used this blog to share my journey and the different stories I have come across thought my journey.
I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Sint Ursula Secondary School, an amazing school in the village of Horn in the Netherlands. This school is doing fantastic things with technology and I love their focus on technology as a tool to enhance which if echoed throughout their hallways and in every single classroom. There is so much for me to learn and it all begins with motivation.
My visit concreted my understanding of where learning begins. Rather than the process of learning simply beginning with an idea, something happens before that and that ‘thing’ is motivation. As I have shared previously in other posts, motivation is what makes someone want to learn something. A perfect example of that was the students in BK1 who learnt English because they had to… more about that in a later post though. It was such an amazing experience that it is worthy of it’s own post!
My day began with a tour of the school. Lead by Vivian, an Apple Distinguished Educator, this was no ordinary tour. We were diving in and out of classrooms and getting a holistic snapshot of the schools learning environments. Each step of the way I could not help but be drawn into the class to see what was happening (even though they were speaking Dutch and I could not understand a word).
Challenge problem and inquiry based learning seemed to be the basis of this school’s practice. It was very effective and helped students to develop their love of learning. When speaking to the school executive this was a very important part of their recreation of the school.
During my discussion with the executive of St Ursula we discussed the importance of professional development and ways to show staff their importance of PD, that they value them as professionals and are invested in helping them become the best teacher possible. The way they achieved this, was through developing an off site two day course where accommodation and meals were paid for. Course were then run by staff and outside companies. This all focused on the introduction of different learning styles and strategies (challenge based and inquiry based teaching). Teachers found this incredibly empowering and the executive noticed the rate of uptake of the new pedagogies was a lot higher due to the style of PD they implemented.