Hello! I'm a first year Special Education teacher. I am certified in both Special Education and English at the secondary level so I hope to one day move to an English position. Right now I teach a Modified English 7 class with and then co-teach Applied Science for 9th graders.
Technology is such an important aspect of education these days and it's only going to continue to grow. While it's important to have students write it can also be engaging to incorporate technology into writing about fiction and non-fictional topics. The Book Creator App can help teachers instruct on writing and specific topics while also incorporating a type of project-based learning within the classroom.
The topic of my mini-course is based on the app Book Creator for the iPad.
The purpose of this mini-course is to help teachers explore the technical and educational aspects of this app. This will then allow students to use the app to produce high-level, productive, and creative writing for multiple content areas.
The topics that will be covered are:
-Features of the app Book Creator
-How can teachers use this to support writing
-Creating a sample book on the app
Learners will be able to:
- The participant will operate the Book Creator App
- The participant will create a sample higher-level fictional and non-fiction piece of writing/project.
1. Nature of the problem/opportunity
Today’s education world is ensconced in the Digital Age. Many students today are digital natives, those being born and raised with technology, and unfortunately many teachers are unsure of how to incorporate today’s learning tools which are much different from past traditional tools (Crawford, 2014). A struggle that many teachers today have is connecting curriculum's to real world problems. A benefit to using new applications and technology is that it allows students to enhance their learning across the globe and in real life situations (Crawford, 2014).
2. Instructional Problem
The argument over technology today is how it is used in the classroom and how often it should be used (Northrop, 2013). Students can be given direct instruction on technology use (and they should be) but technology today can also be used to accomplish traditional curricular goals. It's important to remember that while technology, such as iPad's can lead to higher student engagement it does not directly relate to higher student achievement (Northrop, 2013). Like with anything, it must be integrated into the classroom in such a way that benefits the students and their learning.
Three questions that educators need to take in to consideration before even beginning the process of bringing iPad's into the classroom are the following:
- How might the use of iPad's change the "responsibility framework" set in place in your classroom?
- Do the apps you're going to use contain potentially misleading information?
- How can you support students and parents who might not have tablet or smartphone access at home? (Northrop, 2013)
It's important to first teach the desired skill or concept without the technology first, then explain and model the technology (in the case of this course, the Book Creator app), then move towards guided practice with students using the skill and the app. This will eventually allow for more student-centered learning versus teacher-centered (Northrop, 2013). By using the Book Creator app on an iPad you are able to meet traditional curricular goals as well as engage students with new and user friendly technology. By using the Book Creator app students are participating in the process of "storytelling" by using literacy skills such as identifying parts of non-fiction and fictional stories and creating their own.
Storytelling in the classroom is not only an engaging way for students to learn but it can “contribute to student academic success and emotional well-being.” Storytelling can allow students to express their own thoughts and feelings in a creative way. Crawford says, “These benefits transcend the art experience to support daily life skills. In our fast-paced, media-driven world, storytelling can be a nurturing way to remind children that their spoken words are powerful, that listening is important, and that clear communication between people is an art” (Crawford, 2014).
Luckily with today’s digital tools teachers can combine storytelling and media in the classroom to expose students to both of these important aspects. Storytelling also has the benefit of helping students understand the information while also engaging the learner at a cognitive level (Crawford, 2014).
3. What is to be learned?
Educators will learn how to use the app Book Creator to engage and enhance student learning. Educators will also be able to answer the questions what is digital storytelling and how does it help students?
4. The Learners
Learners will be current or pre-service educators that range from K-12 environments. Learners must have some familiarity with tablets, specifically the Apple iPad product. Learners must have some familiarity with the basic technology of transferring information from tablets to computers and using the internet.
Learner Analysis: Learners within this course include educators teaching children in grades K-12. Participants will have varying degrees of familiarity with tablet functions and using online applications for education purposes.
5. Context for Instruction
Learners will learn the content of this mini-course online using the KNILT website. Delivery of the content will require computer use with internet connection. Learners will need to download the Book Creator app on an iPad in order to better follow the mini-course and participate in the final unit.
6. Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution
Participants will explore this mini-course that will introduce fictional and non-fictional writing and how it can be used in the classroom. Participants will engage in activities that allow them to build background knowledge on these topics and then create a sample book using the app. This allows participants to apply what they've learned in a creative and informative way.
7. Goals of this mini-course
One goal of this mini-course is to answer the question how can students write creatively while still maintaining higher-level thinking skills when writing about fictional or non-fictional topics. A second goal of this mini-course is to teach educators how to use the Book Creator app and what its features are. A third goal of this mini-course is to show how educators can combine digital writing with this app to engage students.
Performance-Based Learning Objectives
Course level objectives:
The following course objectives will outline the skills that learner's will through participation and completion of this course:
- After completing this course participants will be able to identify all parts of the Book Creator App and operate the app.
- After completing this course participants will be able to design a sample book using the Book Creator app on either a fictional or non-fictional topic.
- In this course, participants will learn the components of the Book Creator app that allows students to create fictional and non-fictional writing and projects in a creative and engaging way.
- The participant will be able to operate the app Book Creator
- The participant will create a sample higher-level fictional and non-fiction piece of writing/project.
Unit 1: Pre-test, Non-Fiction, Fiction
- Participants will take a pre-test on their knowledge of non-fictional/fictional writing and the parts of a non-fiction/fictional book.
- Using the provided introductory PowerPoint participants will review/build background knowledge about what non-fiction writing is and what is involved when creating a non-fictional book. Participants will be introduced to the acronym BIG FOX for the non-fiction piece.
- Using the provided introductory PowerPoint participants will review/build background knowledge about what fiction writing is and what is involved when creating a fictional book.
- Participants will then take the pre-test again to compare scores on fictional and non-fictional writing.
Unit 2: Book Creator App
- Using the provided introductory PowerPoints participants will follow along on their iPad’s in order to learn the different parts of the app.
- Using the provided PowerPoints and their own iPad apps participants will create their own study sheet that could be used to familiarize students with the app.
- Participants will take an assessment on the parts of the Book Creator app in order to show mastery of the app before progressing to creating their own samples.
Unit 3: Creation of sample fiction/non-fiction, Post-test,
- The participant will demonstrate mastery of the Book Creator app by creating their own non-fiction or fictional book
- Participants will be able to choose the topic and the type of book they’d like to create
- The participants will follow the rubric for the project and self-assess how well they understand the app.
- The participant will demonstrate the ability to navigate basic computer tasks by opening the PowerPoints presentations.
- The participant will demonstrate basic iPad mastery by posting/uploading their final project/assessment to the unit page.
- The participant is intrinsically motivated.
- The participant has a desire to help their students improve higher-level thinking.
- The participant has a desire to modify this course so that it can fit any content area curriculum.
- The participant has an interest in implementing the Book Creator app into the classroom.
- Participants will be able to identify the features of the Book Creator App, create a higher level thinking fiction/non-fiction example, and apply this app to their content area.
- Participants will review/build background knowledge on what non-fictional and fictional writing is and what it entails. Participants will be introduced to the acronym BIG FOX for non-fiction.
- Participants will learn about the Book Creator app and its features. Participants will participate in an assessment about the Book Creator app and its features.
- Participants will create a sample book on the Book Creator app based on non-fiction or fictional writing.
References and Resources
Crawford, C. M., & Smith, M. (2014). Digital Storytelling as an Instrument of Learning: Storytelling as a Primary Form of Communicative Learning through Mobile App Books. International Journal Of The Book, 11(2), 23-33.
Northrop, L. l., & Killeen, E. s. (2013). A Framework for Using iPads to Build Early Literacy Skills. Reading Teacher, 66(7), 531-537
Larson, Miriam B. & Lockee, Barbara B. (2013). Streamlined ID: A Practical Guide to Instructional Design. New York, NY: Routledge.