Book Creator has helped empower student voice and choice in a district that strongly values differentiation.
Ottawa Catholic Schools Board (OCSB) in Canada have been using Book Creator since 2013, after Assistive Technology Teacher Nancy Kawaja met our CEO Dan Amos at an Apple Distinguished Educators conference. In 2015 the app was deployed on every iPad for special education students. In 2018 we trialled the online version of Book Creator with their schools, and in 2019 rolled out to every teacher and student across their district.
How has Book Creator helped your district?
“What we loved about Book Creator initially was that it hit so many different students’ strengths, all in one product. Our school district follows an inclusion model where students with special needs are integrated into the regular classroom, so having ways to remain inclusive but with differentiated instruction is really important.
“With Book Creator you can record video, audio, draw a picture, write text with words or speech – all in one place, which made for a very easy entry point for our teachers and students. And because the app has such a simple interface, even very young children with special needs found it easy to jump in and use it.
“That said, this is a tool for Universal Design – students with gifted profiles (or just high achievers) can have just as much success as students with special education needs.”
In 2018 there were 57 teachers with a Book Creator subscription. After making it available to all of their teachers across the board in 2019, over 1,600 teachers signed up by the end of the year, with over 13,000 students creating more than 50,000 books!
That’s 2,500 separate libraries full of amazing books!
How did you rollout Book Creator to your teachers? How was it received by teachers and students?
“My colleagues and I in the Learning Technology Department decided to build our own books to model how Book Creator can be used. We then pumped it up on Twitter and sent the books out to curriculum leads and resource teachers. We would go out to schools and run ‘lunch and learn’ PD sessions with teachers and model the instruction of Book Creator in classrooms.
“Teachers really love it! We’ve seen teachers using Book Creator from elementary up into high school. At the elementary level we’ve seen examples such as ‘story-starters’, thematic books around holidays, and grades 4-6 making alphabet books which are then shared with kindergarten students in their school.”
“In the high school panel, we’ve seen success with it in the co-op classes – for example students used to create large ‘bristol boards’ showing their job placements, but Book Creator has allowed them to embed photos and videos into their books to give them a more modern and engaging experience, which has proven very popular.
“We’ve seen other teachers using it in science to document observations and analysis, also math journals… so many examples!”
graphic organizers for students to use voice typing in because other programs like google drawings don’t let you use voice typing— Tᗩᖇᗩ ᑭOTTEᖇ (@tpot_9) November 4, 2019
I have some book creator activities for ELL students in French class. Alphabet, colours and counting basics for now. Hoping their will be able to build their own by the end of the year— Kathryn Erickson (@OCSBErickson) November 4, 2019
I used @BookCreatorApp for Grade 4 Social Studies! My students created books about the God or Goddess they researched!— Mme Caminiti (@MmeCaminiti) November 5, 2019
Use it as a interactive math journal where students can document their math thinking through picture, text, video and more!— Tara Kroeger OCSB (@MrsTKroeger) November 4, 2019
We will be creating our procedural writing books with step by step pictures in it!!! Then we challenge our classmates to try our steps!— Tania Facchineri (@missfacchineri) November 8, 2019
“We did find some students in the older grades were reluctant to try Book Creator – their instinct is to want to use something like Google Slides because they’re already familiar with it. But typically, once we’ve shown them the basic tools they’re very happy, and soon become wowed by the backgrounds and the comic book templates, and make beautiful books!
“Other students have found that despite being reluctant to hear their own voices at first, they communicate better using audio or video rather than written text and that has transformed the way they demonstrate their learning.”
What impact has Book Creator had on teaching and learning within the district?
“The option to provide students with a choice that plays to their own individual strengths cannot be underestimated. They are able to tap into creative new ways to express themselves.”
“Even non-teaching staff are getting into it. At a recent Professional Learning event for central staff, they presented examples of student work using Book Creator. Not only did they model the use, but it also provided a simple way for staff to work through a set of multimedia content in an easy way.
“Teachers using Book Creator are able to capture student thinking, document processes and give students a differentiated way of sharing what they know. It has become one of our core content creation tools, primarily for students but also for staff.”
Dan Kemp is Tools for School’s Marketing & Community Manager. He spends his time spreading the word about Book Creator and supporting people who use it.