Informational Research and Book Creator

Sara MalchowCase study, Elementary / Primary, English / Language Arts

Sara Malchow in her classroom - source:  Pulaski News

Sara Malchow recently became an Apple Distinguished Educator. Source: Pulaski News

It’s always useful when teachers share their lesson plans and tips. Here’s another one from a newly-qualified Apple Distinguished Educator.

Coyote research project

Coyote research plannerWe have been working on the genre of informational writing over the past month and just finished up a piece on coyotes. I have a 6 pack and matching big book about coyotes that is at 1st grade level, and that works wonderfully for this writing project.

After groups finished reading, they took their post-it notes and sorted them based on similar topics. From there they created their plan sheet like the one on the right.

Students had to have three details (the yellow circles) and three elaborations to accompany their details along with a topic sentence and conclusion/wrap-up sentence.

I’ve taught my kiddos to just write “blurbs” on their plan sheets or just enough info to remember their main idea. This has really helped to eliminate copying the authors words verbatim. As students finished their plan sheet they then used it to write their informative piece.

Ready to publish their writing

After writing their piece, editing for capitals and periods, reading it to a friend and then checking in with me, they were able to publish their piece using the Book Creator app. This is the first time we used this app (last year we used Doodlecast Pro to publish).

I originally chose Doodlecast for the simplicity of being able to add a picture, a bit of text (handwritten) and the ability for students to add their voice to explain their thinking.

I have found that Book Creator offers my students all of this and so much more when showcasing their thinking – everything from book layout (portrait vs. landscape) to page colour, shapes, text AND pen, all while still being simple enough for a first grader to manipulate.

One of the things that my students and I really appreciate is the ability to change the layering of objects. First graders often don’t plan their steps far enough ahead to know that they should lay down their background color first and then their objects.

A checklist for publishing

I created a checklist for students to follow to give them a little more direction while working independently. The checklist was helpful for most and I’ll definitely use it again. We had a few small glitches along the way, nothing earth shattering, but we all learned together and I’ll make a few tweaks for next year.

Coyote research Book Creator checklist

Students had their choice on each page of either creating their own picture or going to Pics4Learning or Photos for Class to choose real life images. Many chose to go onto the sites to get actual images but we still had a good handful who also created their own pictures.

As we have been talking about non-fiction text features over the past months, I added the box on the right of the checklist to challenge my students to add some of these features as appropriate to their book. Obviously photographs and drawings were already embedded. I did have some kiddos add labels to their drawings and also some captions.

  • A page from the Coyote research book
  • Meet the author - Faye

For those students who had the extra time, I included a bonus page in which they could do an “About the Author” page and include a selfie. I had a template for them to follow as we have not talked much about this type of page previously. The template basically had them write their name, how old they are, what grade they are in and two things they like to do.

I hope you found this lesson review useful!

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3 Comments on “Informational Research and Book Creator”

  1. Great information!! I just started using Book Creator this year. in my 3rd grade class. My kids love it! I will be sharing Book Creator at iSummit later this week. I would love to share your link at my session.

  2. Hi Sara
    When you create the books and checklists for your students do you create a template that they then edit or how do you get them to have the checklist or certain pages?

    1. Hi Amanda! At the time I did this with my 1st graders, I didn’t have the ability to create and send them a template as we were on old iPad 2s. I created these research organizers:
      for my students to work off of and then they created their book in Book Creator. Here’s an example of one of my kiddos’ finished books
      To be honest, not having a template proved to be amazing as I was able to let my students’ creativity shine through. We had talked a lot I about nonfiction text features throughout the year so they had a great vision of how they wanted their books to look. Please let me know if you have additional questions~ happy to help! 🙂

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