A rubric for Book Creator

Sam KaryBlog, Elementary / Primary, High School / Secondary, Middle School

Sam Kary talks about helping his students elevate their work by introducing a rubric for their digital book projects, helping them focus on design and multimedia.

I first started using Book Creator around 4 or 5 years ago when I was in the process of upgrading many of the pencil and paper projects in my 6th grade Humanities curriculum to digital projects. One of the projects we used to do was an Egyptian Monument postcard project where students “wrote home” about their favorite monument after learning about the pharaohs and their achievements. I sensed that students were no longer as excited about that particular project, and wanted to upgrade it and make it more relevant for the 21st century.

A page from one of Sam Kary's books

I decided to give Book Creator a try mainly because other educators who I was learning a lot from such as Holly Clark, Tanya Avrith, and Monica Burns, recommended it. Book Creator was of particular interest because I wanted to give students the opportunity to incorporate multimedia into their writing. As someone who regularly used “gallery walks” as a way for students to share their work with each other, I also appreciated the fact that students could easily share their books with the rest of the class in a digital library.

This video is a snippet of Sam's YouTube video Top 10 Creative EdTech Projects

To be honest, when I first introduced Book Creator to my students, their ebooks weren’t all that great. They mostly just typed out long blocks of text exactly like a regular book. I don’t think a single student included audio, video, drawings, symbols, or even images. Of course that’s because I didn’t show them how to use any of those tools. It also became clear that students needed more instruction in terms of the importance of presentation, specifically how to use font families, pick a color scheme, use the alignment tools, etc.

I realized that if I wanted students to make multimedia-rich digital books that looked visually appealing, and truly expressed individual creativity, I would have to explicitly teach them how to do so. That meant taking the time to teach them about intentional design, as well as have them create a plan for their designs, hence the planning document. Having students draft their books first also creates an opportunity to give them feedback on the actual content of their books so that once they are in Book Creator, the content piece is already taken care of and the focus is almost entirely on design.

New EdTech Classroom Digital Book Rubric

I developed the rubric to emphasize the importance of design as an integral part of delivering a message to an audience, and included the different multimedia types in the rubric to draw students’ attention to the fact that those elements were essential components of what distinguished an e-book from a regular book. Of course naming those elements in the rubric also acted as a motivator for students to actually use them! 

The planning document and rubric helped us shift from students making relatively uninteresting books to students creating incredibly creative and unique digital books where they were doing things like drawing a pharaoh, adding a dialogue bubble, and then recording audio to speak from that character’s perspective.

To learn more about Sam's approach to making digital books, and to download the digital book rubric and planning document, click on the link to the New EdTech Classroom website in the tweet below.

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