It's that time of year again, as we think about how to hit the ground running as schools open up again. This time last year, we were in the thick of remote learning during the pandemic, with teachers and students struggling to get to grips with new ways of working, and using technology in unfamiliar ways.
In 2021, we have somewhat more clarity on what school looks like again. Big issues such as tackling learning loss and social-emotional wellbeing will be in the forefront of many curriculum programmes. At Book Creator, we want to be here to help you with a tool that is proven to help students engage with learning.
We have released two new templates for the school year - one for younger students and another for older students. You'll find these further down the page (or use the navigation in the contents). This Back to School guide covers other ideas and concepts for you to draw upon, as well as common housekeeping tips for teachers who used Book Creator last year and want to reset for a new class. We really hope you find it useful.
Happy book making!
New to Book Creator? Start here
Book Creator is an easy-to-use tool for making multimedia digital books in any subject area, from primary upwards.
Create: combine text, audio, video, drawings, photos and appsmash other content!
Read: have your book read to you in multiple languages, with word highlighting and page turning.
Publish: share your book online, download as an ePub file or print it as a PDF.
Getting started with Book Creator
You can follow our complete Getting Started guide here. Here are a couple of things to draw your attention to if you really want to hit the ground running:
- Join one of our Back to School webinars with our Teacher Success Managers.
- Complete your Book Creator Certified Author training to master the basics of Book Creator (and get a cool badge for your efforts!).
Ideas for starting the new year
Before we dive into some practical examples and ideas for using Book Creator, let's think about some of the wider concepts you'll want to consider this year and how Book Creator can be employed to help you.
The First 5s
Dr. Beth Holland wrote a blog post for us back in 2017 considering how you might divide your thought processes into 5s - the first 5 days, the first 5 weeks, and the first 5 months.
Imagine setting up a station with a single iPad, Chromebook, or even desktop during the first week of school and then personally engaging with every student as you co-create a page to introduce them to the class.
With younger students, this might be a first introduction to technology; and with older students, it could afford you the opportunity to make a personal connection through a shared activity.
Book Creator allows for both topic-centered (to-the-point) and topic-chaining communication. Students can clearly articulate their points in writing and still add context through audio, video, and imagery. Providing students with these options gives them multiple avenues through which to express their learning and also indicates that you value their voice.
Within the first five weeks, students also need the opportunity to engage in cooperative and collaborative learning as well as individual endeavors.
This year, how might we encourage our students to develop their global identities and make a contribution to the world?
Armed with Book Creator, consider how your students might capture the voices in their community and share their discoveries with the rest of the world.
Capturing student work with digital portfolios
One of the great ways you can use Book Creator is to set up a portfolio for students at the start of the year, to capture their progress. Doing this at the start of the year will save you a lot of effort later on!
You have a few options to consider when thinking about how to set up for creating portfolios. Depending on how many libraries you have in your Book Creator account, you could consider:
- 1 library per student
- 1 book per student
- 1 section in a book per student
You might also want to use this remixable digital portfolio template to give you a big headstart!
Configuring your libraries
Remember, if you're on the free plan, you'll only have 1 library so you'll need to be strategic about how you manage the 40 books allocation. But if you or your school has paid for a subscription, you'll have unlimited libraries on the 1,000 book plan.
So, at the start of the year, decide how you want to configure your libraries. You might set up a class library, or divide libraries into different subjects or grades, or create a library for a specific project.
Remember your My Books library allocation is separate, so use that for your draft books or other personal work.
Ready for remote learning?
Even if not full time, remote learning is going to be in place for a while yet (and may even become the norm). Book Creator is a perfect accessory to remote learning and we've prepared some excellent guidance for teachers who need to set up their classrooms for remote or hybrid learning. Everything you need is here.
Setting up collaboration
Speaking of collaboration, the power of Book Creator really comes alive when students work together.
If you're on a paid plan, you have access to real-time collaboration - just turn on the setting in your library. You could partner up students, or have the whole class working on one book. (Tip: that's also a good time to highlight good digital citizenship and why you don't delete other people's work!).
Don't forget to take advantage of our 90-day free trial for our real-time collaboration feature!
Foster Digital Citizenship
The start of the year is always a good time to introduce digital citizenship, and Book Creator can help with this. As you introduce the features of Book Creator, talk about why it's important to use a safe search for images, and why it's better to use copyright free images and how to properly cite them.
You can discuss what information is ok or not to share when publishing books online, and why you it's important to respect each other's work when collaborating on books together.
If you're looking for curriculum resources for teaching digital citizenship - we have just the thing! This summer, we partnered with Common Sense Education to bring you these three educational activity books.
Teacher-created resource ideas
Here are some ideas for you to try in the new school year. You could try creating one book of different resources or a separate book for each one.
- Meet the Teacher book
- Staff directory
- School Maps
- Message from the Principal
- Classroom rules and procedures
- Staff guides
- Class Yearbook
My Back to School Book (template)
We know that you really want to be fully ready when the new term starts, and it's easier to do that when someone else has helped you prepare! So we've provided this template book for you to give to your new students so they can acquaint themselves with you and their classmates, and work together on finding their feet in the new school year.
This template is ideal for primary level students (age 5-11).
Included in the template:
- All About Me!
- My favourite things
- What's in my locker?
- My Summer break
- My Coat of Arms
- Find a classmate who...
- Hopes and dreams
- Our Class pledge
Here's our example book:
To add the blank template to your library for students to copy, click the button below and then remix the book.
Empower the Learner Profile (template)
Whilst the above template is for elementary-level students, this second template is aimed more at middle or high school level (although it will also work with younger ones with your guidance!).
We teamed up with Kathleen McClaskey and the team at Empower the Learner to bring you this ground-breaking template that enables kids to have autonomy over their learning. They will tell the story of who they are to build a 1-page profile which identifies their talents, hopes, aspirations, challenges, strengths and much more.
Make sure to read the Introductory Book first to fully understand the research and learning that has gone into the Empower the Learner framework and to make best use of the template. When you're ready, use the button below to remix the book to your own library in Book Creator.
Housekeeping (for existing users)
If you've been using Book Creator over the past year or more, now is a good time to take stock and perform some simple housekeeping activities to keep everything in order.
First of all, think about archiving libraries that you're no longer going to use. This will remove the library from use, and allow you to create a fresh new library. Any published books in your archived library will remain published online - so choose whether or not you still want them to be available to view.
Setting up libraries for new students
From your Teacher Dashboard, you can create a new library. You can then grab the invite code and give it to your students. They will sign in with their Google, Microsoft or Clever ID, and then type in this code, and they're set to go!
Choose your library settings carefully to make sure you only give the students the permission levels you want for them.
Expiring the invite code
If you're not going to archive the library and will continue to use it, you should think about expiring the invite code to stop students from joining using the old code.
Removing students from libraries
You'll also want to remove existing students from the library, using the dropdown underneath the library title.
Create student logins (without an email)
If your students don't have email addresses, you can create logins for them that they can access with a link or with a QR code. Here's how you do that.
Back to School webinars in August
If you prefer to take in all this information face to face, our Teacher Success Managers Catherine Cappiello and Jon Smith are on standby ready to talk to you and help you hit the ground running. Join them for one of our August webinars (and if you can't make it to one, don't worry, we'll post the recording in our Webinars archive).
- Creative Digital Citizenship Activities with Book Creator - Tuesday 10th August
- Back to School with Book Creator - Thursday, 12th August (recording below)
- Getting Started with Book Creator - Thursday 26th August
So that's all for now! Do you have any back to school tips to share with others, let us know in the comments! How will you be using Book Creator this year?
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.