Book Creator as a learning journal for PE

Nick TurraCase study, P.E. / Health

We’re increasingly seeing Book Creator used as a way of recording student learning. Here’s how this PE teacher went about it.

As a PE teacher I use a variety of iPad apps to support student learning in my classes.

Book Creator was an app that I came across while researching apps to put on our school iPads. I was looking for apps that were easy to use and that could be applied across a variety of curriculum areas. Book Creator fitted this criteria exceptionally well.

Nick put together this “trailer” for Book Creator back in 2013.

Textbook ebooks for learning

The first books that I created for students were content based. These were for the sports badminton and street hockey. Each book contained information about the game, its rules, equipment, player positions and included images and videos that expanded on the written information provided by the books.

Badminton book

I put these books onto our 26 school iPads so that students could access them. These have been useful when introducing the topic and have provided a common reference point for students and teacher.

The second type of content-based book I created was for the purpose of revision. My Year 12 PE students study exercise physiology, skill learning and biomechanics and have an exam worth 50% at the end of the year.

The students already had a range of revision resources but I was keen to provide them with a wide variety of sources to cater for different learning preferences.

Page from Nick Turra's book

These Book Creator books provided another option for students to access. They were made available on our school iPads and also for students to put on their families’ iPads or personal MacBooks allowing students to access them at any time (we have a 1:1 MacBook program in Years 9-12).

The ability to include video in these books is a key feature of Book Creator. The number of great YouTube videos available to support student learning is incredible and being able to provide a collection of these in one book along with text and images is very powerful.

Learning journals for students to reflect on development

While content-based books have been useful it is the learning journals requiring students to self-reflect on their development and progress that have interested me the most. In term 4 this year I used Book Creator to develop learning journals for my 7/8 badminton and 9/10 volleyball classes to get students to analyse their performance in these practical units.

I created the journals as a template in Book Creator and put them onto our school’s class set of iPads (accessible to students in the Book Creator app). At the beginning of the term I allocated an iPad to each student. Each journal provided success criteria around court movement and key skills, for example the set, dig and serve in volleyball. All students edited video of themselves (in iMovie) in week 1 and 5 of the unit, which became the basis for their analysis.

Nick Turra's book in Book Creator

The benefits from using the learning journals included:

  • A single document allowing video and text to be combined using a device (the iPad) that was convenient and manageable in a practical environment.
  • Focused students on key concepts and skills.
  • Focused students on areas for improvement (based on video from the first week of the unit).
  • The opportunity to acknowledge what success had occurred as well as identify any areas that still required work (based on video from fifth week of the unit).
  • The opportunity for students to analyse themselves using video in relation to specific success criteria.
  • The journals provided quality evidence to me to assess and report on student learning.

Sharing books using AirDrop and File Browser

Once the journals were complete students AirDropped the books to my iPad allowing me to store the journals in iBooks. This was very convenient and made it exceptionally easy to store a large number of student assessments in one place.

 How to share your book with AirDrop

As the iPads in our school are shared devices we tried to minimise the potential for student work being deleted by others. We used the app File Browser to connect with our school server allowing students to save their book as an ePub file in their student folder on our server. This meant that they could download their book back onto the iPad if someone else deleted it.

One option I did not experiment with but may consider next time is getting students to turn their books into videos, a function provided by Book Creator. I could then put the videos onto my MacBook via USB cable, AirDrop or File Browser.

Nick talks through the Volleyball Learning Journal process.

What I’ve learned

There are a number of logistical issues surrounding the implementation of iPad learning journals including getting the books onto all the school iPads and getting the completed journals back onto my iPad. Even though AirDrop is a fantastic function it did take a few lessons to get all 46 completed journals (two classes) onto my iPad.

I strongly believe the use of video in the journals increased the engagement level of my students. The power of seeing themselves in the initial video and then discussing how to improve using the success criteria (along with my explicit teaching) motivated students more than classes I have had in the past, who have not used this process.

I would like to refine this process in the future by creating posters that replicated the success criteria in the books. As we did not always have the iPads with us it was difficult to refer directly to the success criteria. Having posters on the walls would provide students with the ability to display independence and use these as reference points rather than relying on me all the time.

Plans for the future

Of the three types of books I have created I will persist with the revision books for my Year 12s and the learning journals in 2015. These provided the most benefit for students and contributed the most to student learning.

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2 Comments on “Book Creator as a learning journal for PE”

  1. Re: Including You Tube demos in Book Creator–Do you just link to the You Tube videos? So far, I’ve been unable to find a way to embed You Tube videos in the book (like you can the videos that are on your Camera Roll).


    K. Huck

    1. Hi Kara, you cannot embed videos from YouTube in Book Creator. They must be downloaded and added to the iPad’s Camera Roll.

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