Enhancing curiosity and learning through classroom ebooks

A dear friend of mine, Sigal Magen is truly inspirational. After a long career in IT, she began writing children’s books, as well as engaging in co-creating books with schools and local councils.

She approached me a couple of months ago, looking to collaborate with my class on a series called ‘Kids around the world‘, which involves connecting with and creating ebooks with children in different countries across the globe.

From our first discussion about the ebook project, my grade were extremely enthusiastic; they loved the idea of creating their own ebook, and were both excited and proud that they would be getting published!

The process

The first thing we needed to do was research Australian landmarks.

I placed the following question on our Apple TV to guide the students in their research:

‘If you were hosting an overseas visitor, what sites would you recommend they visit?’

Curriculum engagement

Throughout the project, my students used and developed their skills in many areas, including:

* elearning and creativity – as they began to sketch their drawings, many of my students researched and found great websites and tools such as Drawing Now, which has hundreds, if not thousands of videos showing step by step instructions of how to draw different animals, people, landscapes and much more.

* Writing – each student was required to write a (preferably rhyming) sentence to enhance their drawing.

Here are some photos that document our ebook creation…

**Shameless plug**

If you would like to download/take a look at our ebook, it is available at http://amzn.to/15HOhFl


Running Records made easy with ‘Explain Everything’

I work in a lower socio economic primary school in Melbourne, Australia, where reading has been a focus for a number of years now. As a result, teachers are expected to complete running records at least once per term for each student (and more regularly for at-risk students).

Luckily, we are fortunate enough to use what I find to be an incredibly rich and purposeful reading program, called  Fountas & Pinnell benchmark assessment system.

Whilst I do appreciate that the texts within these kits are readily available and generally at a good standard for my students, I found that I was spending valuable planning and assessment time photocopying pages upon pages of running records throughout the year.

I searched far and wide for a running record specific app, but to no avail.

When I raised my frustration with one of my elearning coaches, he recommended I try an app called Explain Everything. It costs about 4 dollars, but is definitely worth every cent.

I have been using this app for the past couple of weeks (as the guinea pig in my team), and have generally found it to be invaluable to both my time management, planning and assessing.

9 Reasons I’ve loved experimenting with ‘Explain Everything’ for Running Records

1. It is extremely time effective – all you need to do is take a photo of each book from the running record teacher resource book, and you’re ready to go.

2. The text from the levelled book can be inserted from Photos, iTunes, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and some other platforms.

3. It allows you to create a ‘book’ for each individual running record – as soon as the student finishes reading a page, you simply flick over to the next page in the sequence – quick and easy!

4. You can record the students’ voice as they read, to review later, play back to them, share with parents, etc.

5. It allows you to choose between writing using text through typing, or to write by using drawing tools.

6. You can move the text around the page, as well as increase/decrease its size.

7. The ‘image’ of the running record can also be zoomed in and out easily, which makes it simple to insert notes while the students are responding to comprehension questions or when you’re noting an error or self correction during their reading.

8. The running record can be saved as a PDF, image or video.

9. Each running record can be individually exported to a wide variety of platforms, including Evernote, ibooks, iTunes, Dropbox, Google Drive, Youtube and many more.

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