Penguin research gone digital

Anita GoodwinCase study, Elementary / Primary, Science

It’s not the first time we’ve featured a case study about penguins…


Penguin research has taken over our class recently. We have been using Tech with Jen’s wonderful Polar Animals Writer’s Workshop and some other digital resources to create a digital non-fiction book about penguins.

Penguin research gone digital

1. Review non-fiction text features

I started out by reviewing with my students some non-fiction text features like table of contents, diagrams, captions, headings, etc. Jen’s packet is wonderful for this because she has beautiful samples with photos, so that students can have a visual to help them remember what these are while working on their project.

2. Find information

Next we talked about where we can find information for our topic. Again we used the wonderful visual included in Jen’s packet to guide us. We found our information about penguins in books, on the internet, and magazines (Scholastic News). The resource most used by my students was Pebble Go.Pebble Go logo

Pebble Go is a must have resource for K-2 students!

We are very fortunate to have a paid subscription to Pebble Go this year. It has been such a wonderful tool for my students to gather information. The content is all written in kid-friendly, easy to read words so that all students in K-2 can understand and read it. It also has a speaker to click so that the information can be read to students if they are unable to read all the words.

My students have spent hours exploring this site getting information about all kinds of topics. It has really gotten students excited about non-fiction information. I strongly suggest checking out the site, you won’t be disappointed.

Pebble Go has information about four different penguins. I had the students pick one penguin to focus on for their research.

3. Research and record

I copied a paper from Tech with Jen’s unit for students to do their research and record as many facts as they could about their penguin choice. They researched for a week and got lots of great information.

4. Create the digital book

This was my students favourite part.

Jennifer Kimbrell's Writer's Workshop unit

Jennifer Kimbrell’s Writer’s Workshop unit on Teachers Pay Teachers

I took some screen shots of Tech with Jen’s pages in her unit. She has lots of different pages to chose from but I chose six we would use for our digital book. I then put them into my Book Creator app on my teacher iPad and created a blank book template.

I AirDropped this book template to each of my students. They opened it up in their Book Creator app. They then typed in all their research, added photos, and completed a very sophisticated digital non-fiction book.

How to AirDrop your book to another iPad

I started using Book Creator in my Second Grade classroom a few years ago. We started with the free version and then upgraded to the paid version during a special sale Book Creator offered about a year ago. Book Creator is so easy for students to use and create a digital book.

I love that they have so many choices and options so that each book can look so different. One of my favorite newest features is the ability to export the book as a video so that student can share their books on their blogs.

We used the website Photos For Class to find some beautiful photos for our books. I created a QR code link to the site and hung it on the wall. Students scanned the code and pulled up pictures from the site. Then they typed in their penguin name to search for photos for their book.

Photos for Class

After their book was done we exported it to the iBooks app and then students were able to share it with the class. They also exported it as a movie to their camera roll and shared it on their blogs, so their families could see it. See the video samples below to view their finished product. They were so proud of their books!

Jen’s packet also includes information to make books on other polar animals. We didn’t have time this year to do it but I am hoping next year my students will enjoy learning about all kinds of other polar animals. Jen’s all-inclusive packet made teaching this writing skill very easy.

I have never had my students write an actual non-fiction book before. We have done lots of non-fiction research and put them into little projects but never made an actual book. I will definitely be doing this again in the future because my students thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anita Goodwin is a creative Second Grade Teacher in Indiana, USA, who loves teaching in a 1:1 iPad classroom. She likes to use apps to help students create mini projects that they can share with others.

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