Wondering how to allow students the freedom to explore their passions?

Tracy KuzikCase study, Elementary / Primary

Inspired by the ‘Genius Hour’ concept, teacher Tracy Kuzik jumped in and started using Book Creator for her ‘I Wonder’ project.

I first learned about Book Creator at a professional development inservice within my district and came home to play with it, found it very user friendly and figured my students would be able to navigate it well. I used it first with my gr 2/3 class the previous year and they loved it! They were able to learn it within a few short lessons and used it to show their work in multiple ways.

The next year I moved to a new school and was teaching the gr 1/2s. I wondered if they would be too young to pick it up but figured I’d never know if I didn’t try. We pulled out the iPads and learned about Book Creator. I used the document camera and projected my iPad to the big screen and led a few step by step lessons. They were creating fun pages and text within the first lesson!

This is their story.

The ‘I Wonder’ project

‘I Wonder’ came from the concept of Genius Hour but adapted for my grade level. The idea with Genius Hour is to allow students time and space to work on their own projects, with freedom to choose their own topics. I have not seen this depth and excitement of individual learning with this age group in a long time.

Using Book Creator, the students created their own title page for their ‘I Wonder’ book, and set a few background pages. The children were able to quickly navigate this app and loved knowing that they were on their way to creating their own book for their own inquiry topic.

We needed some help…

We had brainstormed our ideas and information onto our “thinking pages”, but getting the information into the iPads was going to be a challenge. So I sought another teacher in my school who is familiar with Genius Hour. Their class agreed to step up and be our big buddies! Thanks Div 4!

So we met in the library to do some more research from non-ficiton books, and our big buddies helped us write when we couldn’t. Then they helped us type our learning into Book Creator on the iPads and format some of the pages. We soon became better with the iPads and were able to format, and change the font, size and colour on our own, too.

Time to illustrate the books

We decided that we could use the non-fiction books to help us draw pictures that connected to our writing. We made small illustrations, then took pictures of them with the iPads and uploaded them into our ‘I Wonder books’ on Book Creator, so our illustrations were our own. I was impressed at how the children’s art changed. They were drawing and creating for a purpose now, something I hadn’t really thought about before. Their pictures were well thought out. Their perspective, colour choice, size and detail was all set to a higher standard than they had previously aimed for.

So what did the ‘I Wonder’ project do for the students in my primary (grade 1/2) classroom?

  • My students now love non-fiction text
  • My students love reading, finding facts then sharing their learning.
  • My students ask me to bring in specific topics for our class library so they can continue learning more.
  • My students help each other understand what they are reading and buddy read with more authenticity and purpose.
  • My students write lifecycles, randomly, and make books about nature, animals, world issues and other facts they are learning about. We have various “fact books” floating around our room so they can document their learning while reading.
  • My students are comfortable with Book Creator and ask regularly when they can make their next book.
  • My students have taken learning to a new level!

The children were thrilled to have a book to showcase their learning about their passion. We shared the books with families during our student-led conferences and with our big buddies.

Each child learned something different. I do not think I could have elicited this level of enthusiasm and passion for learning by having them all learn the same topic at the same time. The skills learned were all similar, but the inquiry was their own, the passion was their own, so the investment and desire was their own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *