Our Favorite Things

The end of the year means taking a look back and reflecting on what happened throughout the months in a grade level. It’s a time of “I love this grade” and “This is my very favorite year.”

I asked the second graders to brainstorm some of the activities of their year.

  • Reading the Boxcar Children and Little House in the Big Woods
  • The Heritage project and international food tasting
  • Scientist of the Day
  • Math
  • Co-curricular subjects: Computer, Spanish, Chinese, Library, Art, and Music
  • And of course . . . who can omit recess or P.E.??

The next step was to illustrate their favorite (or in some cases, favorites) activity from their second grade year. For us, Microsoft’s Paint program is a good drawing tool. We use it quite a bit and the students are very comfortable with it.

The next step was to write a script in Microsoft Word that would be used for recording in the Book Creator app. A few students balked at that, saying they could remember what to say without writing it down. However, I told them that even pros write down what they’re going to say and we would take lessons from them! (Besides, it was a good way to practice word processing skills!)

Since we were making a class book, I pulled in all the pictures to the Book Creator app (uploaded the drawings to my Picasa web album account and saved them to Photos) on my iPad. Then the students recorded their narration. I really like the ability to bring in short video clips to Book Creator so we added a brief whole-class shot.

The result is an ePub book that can be read in the iBooks app on any iOS device. And now, with the latest version of Book Creator, the ebook can also be read on any computer by using the Google Chrome browser and the Readium app. (For instructions, see the post, Book Creator and the Readium Chrome Web App.)

  • If you are on an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, etc) and you have iBooks installed, tap on a link below.
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Then download to iBooks

Mrs. Cooper’s Class: Our Favorite Things

Mrs. Garcia’s Class: Our Favorite Things

Mrs. Shapard’s Class: Our Favorite Things

Book Creator and the Readium Chrome Web App

The Book Creator for iPad app is one of the very best apps I’ve seen for inspiring creativity. We’ve used it to create all kinds of ePub books that have been shared with parents. RedJumper, the app designer, has done an incredible job of updating and adding new features.

So I was absolutely thrilled when version 2.5 came out and I discovered that the books created in Book Creator could now be read in the Google Chrome Browser!

All it takes is downloading the Readium app from the Chrome App store and ePub books can then be read on a Mac or PC. This is huge! Many of our families have iOS devices, but not all – now ALL families have the capability of reading their child’s work.

 

Here are the directions to read your ePub book on a Mac or PC: (**These are specific directions for our parents to download books that have been saved in my Dropbox account.**)

  • Install Google Chrome.
  • Install the Readium app. Visit the Google app store to download the app. (You’ll need to have a google account to sign in.)

  • Download the ePub book to your computer. Click on the book’s link and choose download.

  • Open the Readium app. Click on the + sign (top right).

  • Choose local file and find where you have saved the ePub book file. Then click on Add Book.

  •  The file will upload to the Readium app. You can now read (and listen to) the ePub book.

 

Pourquoi Stories with Second Graders

What is a pourquoi story? Ask Mrs. Garcia’s second graders and they’ll be able to tell you that it is a type of story that tells why something is the way it is. In fact, pourquoi means why in French. Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories is a classic work of this genre. Do you remember . . .?

  • “How the Camel got His Hump” or
  • “How the Leopard got His Spots”

Many cultures have pourquoi tales that have been passed down through the ages. In a collaborative effort with technology and art, Mrs. Garcia’s students explored some of these stories using the “making smaller circles” principle.

Josh Waitzkin, an eight-time National Chess Champion in his youth, attributes his success to learning techniques he developed to bring his mind and body to peak performance. In The Art of Learning, Waitzkin reveals his self-study to define techniques to maximize student achievement. One of those techniques he calls “making smaller circles.”

In Mrs. Garcia’s homeroom class, students practiced how to “zoom in” on pourquoi stories’ problems, blocks, and outcomes.

In Mrs. Black’s art class, students focused on an aspect of a subject in the story to create artwork showcasing that “zoomed in” part.

Armadillo Tattletale

Using technology, students created and recorded a class ePub book with the Book Creator app.

Screenshot of page in Book Creator app

Using PowerPoint and an image from Pics4Learning I created a zoomed-in version of a zebra using the theme of “making smaller circles.” This became the book cover for the ebook.

Mrs. Garcia, Mrs. Black, and I hope you enjoy the students’ view of pourquoi stories.

Link to the class book: 

Pourquoi Stories: Making Smaller Circles by Mrs. Garcia’s Second Grade Class

Directions to download book to your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc):

  • You will need the iBooks app (free) installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above (while on your iOS device).
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in . . . and then choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks on your iOS device.

 Directions to read the ePub book on a computer:

 

 

Animal Camouflage: an ePub book by Second Graders

One of our second grade teachers, Mrs. Shapard, wanted her students to research an animal to develop an understanding of what camouflage, prey, protection, and habitat means. She wanted the students to be able to share the information in a way other than the usual oral report. Mrs. Shapard chose to use the Book Creator for iPad app since it’s an easy way to make an ePub book. The app allows students to type text, insert images, and record narration. A new feature of the app allows users to make a book then email it. All books can then be combined to make one class book.

Because we only have only one class set of iPads that can be checked out, the students just wrote a few basic facts for their individual books. We were able to get the set for two different class sessions.

During the first session, the students were to use the Drawing Box app to draw two pictures: one of their animal and one of the animal in camouflage. Most had enough time to finish their illustrations.

The next week, I started out with everyone following along as I discussed the tools in the Book Creator app. It’s such an intuitive app that there were few questions and as students discovered tools they shared information with their peers. After the students wrote the animal facts, formatted their text, and inserted their illustrations, they were ready to record. Again, the app makes this super easy! While students dispersed to various corners of the room, I took pictures for their author pages.

Next step – email the book. All were sent to me and then combined into one class book. The only negative to combining books in the Book Creator app is that there is always an empty page between books (or at least I haven’t figured out how to avoid that). But, that’s a perfect spot for an “About the Author” page.

Taking this picture was probably more difficult than any other part of the process! Every time we thought we were ready to snap the photo, someone’s screen would change to something other than their animal picture. That would be fixed, then it would happen to someone else. It was rather humorous! After dissolving into fits of laughter several times, we were finally able to get all screens showing an animal at the same time!

We hope you enjoy this book from Mrs. Shapard’s class of animal lovers!

Link to the class book: To read the ePub book, you must click on the book link below while on an iOS device with the iBooks app (i.e. iPad, iPhone, iTouch). The book will not open on a PC. Downloading instructions are below the book link. We hope you enjoy the students’ work!

Animals and their Camouflage by Mrs. Shapard’s Class

Directions to download to your iOS device:

    • You will need the iBooks app installed on your iOS device.
    • Click on the book link above.
    • Tap on the download button.
    • Choose Open in . . . and then choose Open in iBooks
    • The book is now in iBooks.

Lessons Learned:

  • Always pre-write! The first day the students had the iPads, we had planned to only spend time drawing the two illustrations. However, some students finished early so we let them go ahead and start writing directly in the Book Creator. The result was that we had all kinds of writing! Not everyone knew what they wanted to say and even though we had discussed where to write the information, there was no specific order. After class, Mrs. Shapard and I debriefed and decided that it would be best to have those who had started their book begin again. The students would write a rough draft in class and when they had the iPads again, would type the information into the app. When we met again, there was a bit of groaning from the few who had started their book the week before but they quickly realized that their expertise was needed to help those who hadn’t had the chance to explore the app!
  • Make sure students know how to save the illustration to the photo roll! All drawing apps are just different enough that exporting can be confusing. In Drawing Box, saving the image doesn’t automatically send it to the photo roll. There were a few moments of panic when students couldn’t find their picture but that was easily remedied!
  • Use students as “teachers”! Students learn quickly and are invaluable in helping others who have questions; especially when a teacher can’t get there quickly to help!

Gifts of the Heart: Creating an eBook with Second Graders

I so enjoy sharing what our teachers do with technology and, although I’m a bit late in posting this, it’s too good NOT to share!

Before the winter holidays, Mrs. Cooper, one of our second grade teachers, wanted to build on her lesson of “Holiday Traditions Around the World.” Each year she reads the book, The Legend of the Poinsettia, by Tomie dePaola. The class discusses traditions of Las Posados in Mexico but this year she took it a step further. During the rereading of the book, Mrs. Cooper asked her students to draw a scene or a picture that came to mind as they were inspired by the simple gift that Lucida was able to give to the Baby Jesus in lieu of the beautiful blanket she intended to give.

Mrs. Cooper chose to have the students do this on the iPads.  Each student picked one of the drawing apps (Drawing Box, Art Set, or Color Box HD) and worked on their drawing as they listened to the story. When the drawings were complete, the students emailed the illustration to me (new experience and they did extremely well!).

The next step was to write a statement about the meaning of a “gift from the heart” – this was done in their journals.

I pulled everything together in the Book Creator app and then had the students record their voice as they read their statement. Book Creator is a wonderfully easy, yet powerful way to make an ebook to share with parents. This was a class book made on a single iPad but it’s easy enough for students to do on their own!

Here is a short video showing how Mrs. Cooper and her students went through the bookmaking process.

The Making of an eBook from Trinity Valley School on Vimeo.

This was a fun and meaningful way to share student work with parents. It took a bit longer than planned – but only because the days before a long holiday are extremely busy! We weren’t able to finish the book till January but that’s alright! The students enjoyed the project and are thrilled that they have a book that they can read on their iOS devices.

Link to Mrs. Cooper’s class book: The Book Creator app only allows you to open the ePub book on an iOS device that has the iBooks app (i.e. iPad, iPhone, iTouch); not on a PC. Downloading instructions are below the book link. We hope you enjoy their book!

Mrs. Cooper’s Class Book: Gifts of the Heart

Directions to download to your iOS device:

  • You will need the iBooks app installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above.
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks.

If you do not have an iOS device, click below for the PDF version. This is the print copy of the ebook. You will not be able to hear the recordings or view the video from this but you will be able to read the story.
Gifts of the Heart pdf

 

Blogging, Bookmaking, and More!

It started with a book . .

I like to bring in literature as writing prompts. When the first graders came to the lab a couple weeks ago, I began reading It Could Have Been Worse, by A.H. Benjamin. It’s a wonderful book for making predictions and that’s just what we did!

The story is about a little mouse on his way home. Mouse slips and falls and laments that he is having a terrible day. What he doesn’t realize is that the “terrible” things that happen to him save him from snakes, fish, birds, and more. The humorous illustrations show that it really “could have been much worse!”

I read a different amount of the book to each of our first grade classes; stopping just before another “it could have been worse” part. The students were to predict what they thought might happen next. I then asked them to log onto their blog and add a comment to my post:

We just read part of It Could Have Been Worse, by A.H. Benjamin. Poor Mouse is having a hard day! Write a comment about what you think will happen to the snake and to Mouse. What do you think will be the next “But it could have been worse!” part?

Mrs. Hutchinson’s Blog

Mrs. Kee’s Blog

Mrs. Orehek’s Blog

After submitting their comments, the students used Microsoft’s Paint program to illustrate their prediction.

When the students finished, I then read the rest of the book. We discussed our predictions and how to use clues in the story to help us as we predict what will happen next. The students truly enjoyed the book and blogging about their ideas!

Having introduced the Book Creator app to our teachers, I wanted to take this idea a step further. In all my years of teaching, one of my favorite activities is to make class books with students. It is very exciting to now be able to make e-books where students can add text, images, and voice recording. Book Creator is the perfect app for this and it’s extremely easy to use.

I added the students’ images to the app, copied and pasted their blog comments, and then asked the teachers to supervise recording while I worked with the rest of the class in the computer lab. The process took just a couple of weeks, meeting just once a week in the lab!

Cover of Ms Orehek’s class book

student page

Links to the class books: The Book Creator app only allows you to open the ePub book on an iOS device with the iBooks app (i.e. iPad, iPhone, iTouch); not on a PC. Downloading instructions are below the book links. We hope you enjoy the books!

Mrs. Orehek’s Class Book

Mrs. Hutchinson’s Class Book

Mrs. Kee’s Class Book

Directions to download to your iOS device:

    • You will need the iBooks app installed on your iOS device.
    • Click on the book link above.
    • Tap on the download button.
    • Choose Open in . . . and then choose Open in iBooks
    • The book is now in iBooks.

Making an e-Book in Kindergarten

After introducing our teachers to the exciting Book Creator app in our iPad Adventures workshop a couple weeks ago, the Kindergarten teachers and their assistants jumped right into it with their students. In fact, I think they had plans already under way before our workshop ended! This app allows users to create a digital book that can be opened in iBooks. The best feature is the in-app recording. What a wonderful way to share with parents!

Our kindergarten classes have been talking about neighborhoods and community helpers. All classes read A House is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman. The students filled in: A ________ is a house for _____________. Next, they added illustrations to their house shape. The teachers used the iPad camera to photograph each child’s work. The pictures were added to the Book Creator app. Finally, the students’ sweet voices were recorded as they read their story.

Below is the note one class (Mrs. Rea and Mrs. Morgan) sent to the parents.

We created a digital class book “A House Is a House for Me” during our class study of shelters and community.  The best part about this book is that when you click on the audio icon on the top right of the page you can hear your child read his or her page!  How neat!  Unfortunately this app only allows you to open it from an iPad or iPhone under iBooks.  When you click on the icon click on “download”.  Then choose to open in iBooks.  It will not open on a desktop.  We have it saved to our iPads in our classrooms so if you are unable to view this at home you can always come see it on one of our iPads.  Here is the link to see our class book with your precious children reading their part:

Mrs. Rea’s Class Book

Mrs. Moore’s Class Book

Mrs. Newton’s Class Book

I’m sure the students  and their families will treasure this forever!