Book Creator: Breaking boundaries in Special Education

Mathieu MarunczynCase study, English, Languages, Special Education

Working in a school with special needs has numerous challenges. This teacher found a way to give his students a voice that he never thought possible.

This is the app I turn to…

For well over a year now I have been using Book Creator for iPad with my students at Jackson School, a special education K-12 school. This app has become such a big deal for us that it was quickly put on our Essential Apps list for students and teachers, which is a hard list to get on to.

If there’s ever anything I use on my iPad to impress parents, other educators, or iPad skeptics, this is the app I turn to.

Students using Book Creator

Facing the challenge to teach literacy and numeracy skills

Working in a school with special needs students has numerous challenges, and much like any school, essential literacy and numeracy skills are an important part of the curriculum. What Book Creator has enabled my students and colleagues at Jackson School to do goes beyond anything that was previously possible.

Many of our students have developmental issues that impact negatively on their ability to communicate what goes on in their minds, such as fine-motor coordination (hand-writing), general reading comprehension, recognition and identification of letters and key words, and logical structuring of sentences and ideas.

These are only a small range of challenges our students face and can be found right through our year groups from kindergarten to upper high school.

I still vividly remember a discussion I had with a colleague when we first introduced Book Creator to Jackson School. Students in her class displayed a range of issues when working within literacy activities, including speech disorders, low confidence when reading in front of others, and of course issues like the ones I outlined previously.

Recording their voice to the book with confidence

Book Creator was used on one iPad during a cooking class as the students worked with their teacher. The device was used as a collaborative tool to list the recipe, photograph and film steps, and to add a student voice.

He was confident in front of his peers and spoke in a way he’d never spoken before.Mathieu Marunczyn
The speech aspect was added to the story whilst the class were waiting for the food to cook, and this was where Book Creator truly shone.

The teacher showed me how kids who were always shy about reading in front of their peers read and recorded their voice to the book with absolute confidence.

However, the real tearjerker was hearing a student who has a diagnosed speech impediment read three full sentences without missing a beat.

Students using Book Creator

Using Book Creator in a number of ways

Over the 18 months or so that we’ve been using Book Creator at Jackson School I’ve watched as staff have used it in a number of ways. In our Early Year’s classes it’s regularly used to teach everything from English to identifying shapes around the school.

When students go on camps they always come back with huge books made on the bus ride back that detail their experiences, utilising all forms of multimedia.

We’ve even had a school performance where students pre-performed their fairy tale as a book and then projected it to the crowd whilst adding extra real-time elements. Genius!

Creating sign language books for peers

Despite all these wonderful experiences I think the most excited and amazed I’ve ever been by Book Creator was during my recent trip to Brazil. As part of a fundraiser,I made sure that Book Creator was on the iPads that were being given to the teacher, even though the app is currently only in English at the moment.

After training the teacher on how to use the app in some very rough English to Portuguese translations I showed her how to share books using Google Drive. Around 5 weeks have passed since the teacher, Helena, received the iPads and I regularly receive incredible books from her and her students.

Did I mention that these kids have hearing impairments and other disabilities? Just take a look at the book below!

Helena’s older students who are much more knowledgable on Brazilian sign language regularly create books for their younger peers and use it to tutor them. You don’t have to think too hard about what the positive flow on effects are from having such a resource.

  • Alfabeto Manual
  • Alfabeto Manual
  • Alfabeto Manual

I’m a big fan of this app and cannot wait to get it into the hands of every single student next year when our 1:1 iPad program kicks off.

The next phase of parent interaction and stories from home is something I’m eagerly awaiting to experience and I can’t wait to see how it will enrich out students and their family’s lives.

Mathieu Marunczyn is an IT Leader & eLearning coach for Jackson School, in Melbourne Australia. He is passionate about teaching iPad 1:1 and has an amazing story to tell about how he’s been using Book Creator with his special needs students.

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