Thursday, June 26, 2014

Making an iBook with 3rd graders

I am so excited to be blogging about the iBook, Berwyn City of Homes and Progress, published by a 3rd grade class that I worked with this year. It is very thrilling for them as a class and for us as a school district to have a student created iBook published. The teacher +Scott Lovero reached out to me via email to ask me if I would help his class create an iBook that told a little something about the history of our city, Berwyn, Illinois. I jumped at the chance to work with Scott because he is very dynamic. He does some very interesting projects with his students. We set up a time for me to observe his class. I quickly realized that I liked his teaching style and the way he interacted with his students. He has a very small class of 12 bilingual students. The purpose of the project was two fold. The first was for students to share their knowledge about the City of Berwyn, with Prep B, a class they have been blogging with from Australia. The second was to help teach Prep B a bit of Spanish. This partnership between the two classrooms was set up by the Marzano Research Laboratory. You can read the blog posts between the two classes here.

3L student working on the railroad chapter
After I observed the class and read the blog posts we were ready to go. The students brainstormed things that they would like to include in the iBook. We wrote them all on chart paper and then negotiated the list down to six topics. The final list looked like this: schools, the railroad, the government, homes (since it is in our city slogan), heroes, and parks. The students were put in pairs to work on the 6 chapters of the book. The students used the Internet and interviews with their teachers Mr. Lovero (an almost life long resident) and me (I've been going to school and working in town for 32 years) for their research. Much of the text is pretty straight forward and factual. The short chapter on the BNSF Railroad and how it played into the growth of Berwyn was the most difficult for these ESL students. I had to take that group back to a time with no television, cell phones or computers. I had to paint the picture of what it would be like to ride a horse into Chicago everyday for work and how that would differ from riding on a train. Once we had our copy ready we set about the task of putting the book together. Using the computer to do research and writing the text is substitution on the ladder of the SAMR model. The basic iBook acts as a substitute for a regular book. I showed the class the basics of typing their work and inserting pictures. Next we moved the project up to the next level on the SAMR ladder by creating the glossary with the English and Spanish definitions to words that students picked out from the text they had written. This is an example of augmentation. The pop up glossary is a functional improvement to the book, easily allowing students access to the definitions of the words in English and Spanish. We steered them towards choosing cognates (a word having the same linguistic derivation as another; from the same original word or root), basically a word that is pronounced very similarly in English and in Spanish. For instance, they chose, train/tren, residents/residentes just to name a few. Mr. Lovero's brother is Robert Lovero the mayor of our fine city, so he was able to make the introduction media. The Mayor did a great job speaking to the kids at Prep B. In the Introduction Video to the iBook Mayor Lovero talks about many of the characteristics that makes Berwyn unique and invites the students of Prep B to come visit someday. Including the video is an example of modification. It allows for significant redesign of the task. The iBook is now a multimedia, touch enabled book that combines text, pictures, a pop up glossary and video. All in one place, all accessible on an iPad, and now with Maverick OS X (10.9) available on a Macbook, as well. Finally after much editing, reviewing and rereading we were ready to share the book with our friends on the other side of the world. The combination of the digital format of the iBook and the real time blogging relationship of the 2 classrooms make the sharing of this iBook redefinition! We were able to bring the Honorable Robert J. Lovero to the kids of Prep B, at Aitken Creek Primary School in Australia.

This was the most challenging and rewarding part of the project for me. At the time, our district's iBooks account was not up and running. We were also debating what we wanted our iBooks Store to look like. We were sure we didn't want to just upload every student created book that was produced. I started to do some research and found Bookry. Their main focus is widgets for iBooks, but they also have a their own iBooks Store. I created an account, and uploaded 2 iBooks to the account. A test book was downloaded onto an iPad with no problems. One of my colleagues told me that it was too good to be true. Multimedia books take up a lot of bandwith. How is it possible that there is no fee for the service and no advertising on the site? I uploaded the Berwyn iBook and we found out. The site is very clitchy. A few helpers and I were unable to download the Berwyn iBook onto our iPads, no matter what we tried. At the time we were not upgraded to Maverick OS, so testing it on the laptop was not a possibility. Finally, our iBooks account was ready so I submitted the book. It took about two weeks for it to be reviewed and approved. It knew that it would be because all of the text was original, and the pictures and video were taken by Scott and his lovely wife +Lisa-Beth Lovero. The book still exists in Bookry iBooks store and in the Apple iBooks/iTunes store. It was shared with Prep B on the blog and they learned a lot about Berwyn, IL.

ISTE Standards for Students covered in this project:

1a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
1b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
2a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
2c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
2d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.
3b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
5a. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.

Common Core State Standards used:

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

Develop the topic with facts, definitions and details.

With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboard skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others. 

Reviewing the pictures to be used in the iBook

Twitter - @rmbtowner_tech