Promoting multicultural learning with Book Creator

David Dulberger#ProTips, Blog, Education, Languages

David Dulberger kindly shares his research and insight from the position paper he presented to his school, to convince them to upgrade from the free to the full version of Book Creator.

The American Council of Teaching Foreign Language states that

“unlike the classroom of yesteryear that required students to know a great deal of information about the language but did not have an expectation of language use, today’s classroom is about teaching languages so that students use them to communicate with native speakers of the language.”
ACTFL, 2011
In a true 21st century classroom, students are infusing technology with multiple types of literacy skills to build on knowledge and experiences. They transfer these newly refined skills to perform a new and authentic task.

Due to the fact that experiences are heavily influenced by culture and language, teachers need to provide students with the tools and learning experiences they need to successfully perform these transfer tasks. Not only is authoring and publishing an ebook a new and authentic task, it can open the doors for teachers and students to learn about various cultures and other languages.

It is with great confidence that I propose to my school to purchase the full version of the Book Creator for iPad application for each student. I believe this will promote multicultural learning in the classroom as well as support L2 students, also known as ELL or ESOL students.

About Book Creator

The Book Creator app created by Red Jumper allows iPad users of all ages to create and publish ebooks in several different formats. Users can create ebooks with multiple pages and incorporate photos and videos from their camera roll into the page.

Book Creator pages can also include multiple text boxes with a full text editor (size, font, color, etc.). Users can handwrite or draw on a page with the pen feature. One of the best features, and my personal favorite is the ability to record sound bytes for each page. Once the finished book is shared into iBooks as an ePub file, readers can simply press the sound button to hear what the author has recorded.

Book Creator in my classroom

Recently I used the free version of Book Creator to have my students write and publish their first iBook.

They used the application to create a personalized yearbook to reflect on their 5th grade year. They organized a collection of photos and artefacts that supported five major events or memories from throughout the year. 

Each event or memory earned its own page in the creation process and the students included a text description next to their artefacts. Several of the students wrote captions to go under any photos or videos as well. The final step was to fluently read the text that they wrote on the screen and record this reading within the app.

Example of an iBook Yearbook

In Making Learning Active with Interactive Whiteboards, Podcasts, and Digital Storytelling in ELL Classrooms, Jung Hur and Suhyun Suh outline the positive outcomes that digital storytelling can have on L2 or ELL students.

Specifically the article reads,

“the utilization of digital storytelling can be particularly useful to ELLs as it provides visual resources and offers ample speaking experience. (Hickman et al., 2004; Rance-Roney, 2010). Images on the screen can help ELLs deliver accurate, detailed content, and the text insertion function within digital storytelling software can help students emphasize relevant, specific vocabulary.”Hur
Hur and Suh continue to explain how students must practice reading the text they have written before pronouncing a fluent recording. Book Creator has the potential to assess a student’s writing, reading, and fluency skills all within one project.

Publishing the books

After collaborating with a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, Jenny Grabiec, I was able to figure out the best way for students to publish their newly created iBook Yearbooks. The students exported their iBook as an ePub file to their Google Drive accounts.

After adjusting the sharing settings of the file on Google Drive they copied a shareable link to a Google Doc that I shared with the class. Each link led to an ePub file that viewers could click and open on their own Apple device.

By sharing the Google Doc with my students’ parents they were able to find their child’s iBook Yearbook and download it on their own phones or tablets. I truly believe this provided for a shared experience for my students and their families. I received positive feedback from both parents and students about the project. Parents specifically mentioned that they liked listening to the recording of their child reading the page.

Mr Dulberger's Google Doc file

The downfall of using the free version of Book Creator for this project is that students can only create one book this way. The full version of Book Creator allows students to publish multiple iBooks without having to delete previous projects.

This means that they could be working on an iBook for Science but also writing a personal narrative. The free version limits users to one iBook per download. I strongly feel that in order for students to reap the real benefits of digital storytelling and ebook authoring, a full version of this application is necessary.

More book ideas

The personalized digital yearbook is just one of the many project ideas that align perfectly with the use of Book Creator. Students could also create an iBook on a Science or Social Studies topic, a how-to book, a biography or autobiography, a class rulebook, and so much more.

The concept of having students create and publish something that can be shared with a greater audience is what the project should be all about. I believe that creating any type of iBook can benefit students linguistically. In fact, Millfield iPads recently tweeted this:

Bilingual book idea

Through using the Book Creator app, a teacher may decide to have his or her students create a bilingual iBook.

Take for example a student named Jen. Jen is Korean-American. Her family moved here when she was 4 and she is now in the 5th grade. Jen speaks English comfortably but is not an extremely fluent reader. Jen enjoys reading and writing as well as science.

Her teacher recently assigned the class a project where they are using fractions with baking and cooking. The teacher would like them to write a cookbook that includes certain fraction conversions and operations. The cookbook needs to give precise directions so a beginner chef has no trouble following the different recipes. Although Jen speaks English everyday at school, both of her parents speak Korean at home. Jen’s teacher suggests that she somehow incorporate both of her languages into her cookbook.

Book Creator is the perfect solution for this type of an assignment. Jen could build her entire cookbook with images, directions, and recipes. All of the written text could be in English. Before publishing the book, Jen could add an audio recording to each page recording herself reading the text in Korean. Not only would Jen gain practice in researching and writing in English, her family at home could enjoy her final product as well. This is a perfect example of using technology to help students connect with their culture and language while still giving them a fair assessment of the essential curriculum.

Addressing student cultures

The World Languages 21st Century Skills Map defines five goals known as the five C’s for language learning. One of these goals addresses various student cultures within a school.

Specifically the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages states,

“as the teaching of language and culture are inextricably intertwined, students learn to understand the culture of the people who speak the target language through learning about the products and practices of the culture and how those relate to the perspectives of the people of that culture.”ACTFL, 2011
The Book Creator application definitely has the ability to increase students’ abilities to learn about multiple cultures. As students create and publish books about their own experiences they will take pride in the work they have accomplished.

A teacher could teach his or her students about expository writing. The students could create a holiday book that informs their audience all about a tradition or ritual in their culture or family that relates to a certain holiday. For instance, my family hides a pickle shaped ornament in our Christmas tree every year. The lucky child who finds the pickle gets an extra present next year.

Based on the experiences I have had with several ELL students during my first year of teaching, digital storytelling projects can quickly increase a child’s confidence. Students who do not speak English as a primary language at home, even if they are fluently speaking it at school, are often reluctant readers and writers.

The Book Creator app motivates these types of students and many others to publish a digital story to a world that is very familiar to most children, the Apple iTunes store. In fact, iBook publishers can even charge money for the unique creations they build.

Therefore, publishing an iBook can also be an authentic way for students to learn about copyright, Fair Use, and distribution of work policies. Whether or not students and teachers decide to sell or give away their iBooks, the Book Creator app opens the door for students to articulate a variety of languages.

Improving visual literacy skills

Another use of the Book Creator app that could promote multi-cultural literacy is creating an iBook that gives directions. The students could take screen shots of Google Earth images that show how to get from the school to their house. They could embed these screenshot images into the book and record or write directions to accompany them in English or another language. A great example of this can be found in Rachel Smith’s case study on students creating a tourist guide for their hometown.

A project such as this and most projects that could be accomplished with Book Creator can benefit a student’s visual literacy skills. Thomas Mackey and Trudi Jacobson quote Jones-Kavalier and Flannigan in their article Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy stating that,

“a visually literate person can communicate information in a variety of forms and appreciate the masterworks of visual communication.”Mackey
In other words, when implemented correctly, Book Creator requires students to create or choose visual images that appropriately accompany their original text. A project such as the directions home book, requires students to use information and visual literacy skills to find images that support their journey from school to home. In today’s society both information literacy and visual literacy, among many others, are extremely necessary for success in the work force.

Improving writing skill and the benefits of reading

In an article titled, Creating a Science E-Book with Fifth Grade Students, Dana Encheff describes her experience using iBooks Author to improve her students’ expository writing skills and understanding of science content. Although iBooks Author is a bit more complex than Book Creator, the final products that both of these Web 2.0 technology tools produce is an iBook.

The teacher from Panorama Elementary School in Orange, California first describes the benefits of reading published iBooks in the classroom. She explains how,

“the interactivity of iBooks in the iBookstore revolutionized my concept of what a textbook could be. Students could watch videos within their books, answer questions with immediate feedback, and explore 3D models all at the touch of their fingers on their iPads.” Encheff
With the Book Creator app, students can build an iBook with many of these same features. Book Creator enables students to create a product that is truly interactive with embedded video, audio recordings, annotated images, and text. Although students cannot build quizzes on the Book Creator app like they can on iBooks Author, I have had students embed links in their ebooks to a Hopscotch or Google Form quiz.

In her article, Dana continues to explain how creating science ebooks forced her students to understand the difference between copyrighted and original material (Encheff). From my experiences teaching, I have found that producing artwork is a great way for students to connect with their home culture. Many ELL and L2 students enjoy using digital drawing applications like Paper53 or Pixie to create artwork that connects to their rituals and traditions. Students can easily upload a photo or screenshot of any artwork they create directly into a Book Creator page.

Accessible and easy to use

Dana’s students happen to be 5th graders just like mine, but Book Creator is great fit for younger students as well. The article Making Learning Active with Interactive Whiteboards, Podcasts, and Digital Storytelling in ELL Classrooms discusses the benefits of using digital storytelling projects with ELL students. On page 323 the article reads,

“although the origin of digital storytelling started in the late 1980s, today’s advanced and accessible technologies (e.g., digital cameras, scanners) allow even young students to tell stories easily.”Hur
The Book Creator app makes this process even easier with everything in one place. The application allows students to embed and align images and videos directly from their camera roll, draw in different colors, and add text boxes all within one space. As students work from a blank canvas and create their own content, the features of the app can be used to make something simple or complex.

Conclusion

A colleague and fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, Jenny Grabiec defines the use of authoring iBooks with Book Creator perfectly. In a brief Twitter interview with Jenny she wrote,

“Students have been authoring books in the classroom for years, but now is the time to transform those yarn-, spiral-, and staple-bound books into Multi-Touch, interactive books that can be enjoyed from any iOS device and even within a web browser.

Publishing e-books with multisensory features, gives our students a voice to help generate ideas and synthesize information. When books are electronically published, students not only share their work with peers and parents but to a broader, global audience.”Jenny Grabiec

As I consider the population of students at my school, Emma K. Doub, I know that learners come from a wide variety of backgrounds. EKD has magnet students that read on high school levels and come from upper-middle class families as well as children who barely know sight words and live in poverty across the street. In my opinion, Book Creator can definitely cater to all of these needs.

As I consider the plethora of cultures that make up my school’s population, I realize the school’s need for an app that can assess students similarly and build a love for literacy. As students prepare for college and careers in the 21st century, they will need to become responsible digital citizens.

Simply being motivated to read, write and/or speak will not be enough. Students will need to understand how to use technology to express themselves, demonstrate mastery and share their cultures. Most of all, they must learn to publish these stories for the world to see.

All things considered, Book Creator is the obvious choice to help all students, especially ELL’s, meet these needs.


Sources

Book Creator for iPad – create ebooks and pdfs, publish to iBooks. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2015, from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/book-creator-for-ipad-create/id442378070?mt=8

Encheff, D. (2013). Creating a Science E-book with Fifth Grade Students. TechTrends TECHTRENDS TECH TRENDS, 57(6), 61-72. Retrieved June 3, 2015.

Hur, J. W., & Suh, S. (2012). Making Learning Active with Interactive Whiteboards, Podcasts, and Digital Storytelling in ELL Classrooms. Computers In The Schools, 29(4), 320-338.

Jenny Grabiec – Primary Source Interview.

Mackey, T., & Jacobson, T. (2010). Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy. College & Research Libraries, 62-78. Retrieved May 28, 2015, from http://crl.acrl.org/content/72/1/62.full.pdf+html

World Languages 21st Century Skills Map. (2011). Retrieved May 23, 2015, from http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/21stCenturySkillsMap/p21_worldlanguagesmap.pdf

David Dulberger is currently a 5th grade magnet teacher at Emma K. Doub, a 1:1 Apple Distinguished School in Maryland, USA.

David is part of the 2015 class of Apple Distinguished Educators, a 2014 PBS Digital Innovator, and a My Big Campus Coach.

5 Comments on “Promoting multicultural learning with Book Creator”

  1. Fortunately, my Principal found the research paper to be inspiring and our school (ekdschool.weebly.com) has secured funding for all students grades 3-5 to receive a full version of Book Creator app on their personal device. Let the eBook authoring commence!

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