Partner Spotlight – Houston ISD

Kathleen SwiftEnglish / Language Arts, Languages, Literacy, Partner Spotlight, STEM

Houston ISD Partner Spotlight

Houston ISD have deployed Book Creator to help with writing across the curriculum - in STEM lessons and beyond.

Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the eighth-largest in the United States. Their vision is that "Every child shall have equitable opportunities and equal access to an effective and personalized education in a nurturing and safe environment. Our students will graduate as critical thinkers and problem solvers; they will know and understand how to be successful in a global society."

Bringing this vision of equitable, effective and personalized learning to the 194,000 students it serves across 276 campuses is a big task! The Houston ISD technology team started using Book Creator district-wide in 2021. 

We spoke to the technology team about their journey with Book Creator so far.

Supporting the goal of personalized education

One of the core pillars of Book Creator is equity - and with hundreds of accessibility features this means students of all ages and abilities can use the app.

Aly Wheeler, Instructional Technologist: "The engagement, the individuality, the customization of the product really had the students completely engaged. You're working with the words, working with sound and visuals - it really encompasses every single thing that a student wants to use to personalize their learning."

As well as being accessible and simple to use, the other important factor to get students hooked is the engagement level. The HISD team found students fell in love with Book Creator quickly and started to take ownership of their learning. They started by showing students what was possible in Book Creator - sharing the example books in the Discover library.

Murissa Mays, Instructional Technologist:

"The kids really loved looking at exemplars. So when I first introduced Book Creator to some of my class, my students were like—'A kid created this?!'

I was like—'Yeah, like they made the entire book!'

And so, they were just fascinated and they're like—'Oh well I want to try!'

So that was a big 'Aha!' moment for all of us."

"We used Book Creator so students could express their understanding of the new information they acquired. I mean, just to be able to express it in a fun way, sometimes in ways that I wouldn't think of, was amazing. The way students chose to express their learning would be helpful to some of their peers, because they could relate to it more than the way we went over it in class." —Murissa Mays, Instructional Technologist

Getting the support of teachers

Whilst supporting personalized education was the main goal, Houston ISD has thousands of teachers that had to engage with Book Creator too. With new curriculums, tech fatigue, learning recovery and the pressures of testing and results, we know that introducing new tech needs to be as easy and hassle-free as possible. Book Creator is simple enough for teachers to pick it up right away, and once they do - they can just run with it.

"I love how functional it is and how easy it is to use and how easy it is to pick up! Once you've used it, you just immediately fall in love with it." —Brittany Zamora, Instructional Technologist

Michelle Herod (Edtech Coach) told us how they help teachers get onboard with Book Creator:

"We explain it like this - 'it's just the three icons... and you do this... and go to town!'

"And then that just raises the level, because suddenly you see adults with their minds turning on and going 'oh, I can do a little bit of creativity, I'm gonna do this with this book... I'm going to do this.'

"Teachers say to me: 'I'm thinking about how this can immediately be translated to my classroom.'"

Writing across the curriculum

Book Creator allows for improvements across the five core facets of literacy: listening, reading, writing, speaking and vocabulary.

"I think Book Creator is a great idea to share creativity and to improve comprehension and understanding. And also - just to give the kids an outlet to be creative and be themselves. Not everyone wants to record a video, but they may record audio. Not everyone can write out every single thought, but they can do research and record that. So, there's so many great ways to use this in all levels of education." —Aly Wheeler, Instructional Technologist

Aly tells us that Houston ISD has seen Book Creator be used for writing across the curriculum:

  • ELA - collaborative storyboarding and comic book creation
  • Science - digital notebooks
  • Math - academic vocabulary
  • Spanish - exploring different heritages
  • Documenting Virtual Field Trips

Houston ISD using Book Creator for STEM

In addition to all this use of Book Creator across the curriculum, perhaps the best way that Houston ISD has used Book Creator is by teaming up their STEM and Instructional Technology departments to work collaboratively to meet district goals in STEM.

You can read all about this partnership in this dedicated Book Creator book:


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