In the spring of 2018, I collaborated with one grade 3/4 class on a learning journey to publish our own collaborative book on rocks native to our learning community and the rock cycle. In order to accomplish this, the class needed to learn how to use the app Book Creator. Below are the steps we followed to complete this collaborative learning task.
Step 1: Author Visit
The classroom teacher arranged a Face Time virtual visit by an author who wrote a book on why life is amazing. This was used as the “hook” to get students excited about writing their own books.
Step 2: Collecting Photos and Videos
In order to complete an authentic book on the topic “Life is Amazing”, learners were required to explore their community on weekly class walks and take photos/videos on why life is amazing.
Step 3: “Life is Amazing” Book Creation
To teach students the features in Book Creator, students were posed to write on the topic “Life is Amazing”. This activity was created as a scaffolding task and taught learners the following specific skills:
- inserting and manipulating text
- taking and saving photos/video to the camera roll
- saving photos off of the internet to the camera roll
- inserting and resizing photo/video
- inserting background images
- saving a Book Creator file as a PDF and video
- how to share photos and videos via “Air Drop” on iPads
Here are some snapshots of students exemplars.
Because this task was designed for students to learn how to use Book Creator, they were assessed using the following rubric. Please note, the content was not the focus of the assessment, but rather the skills of the app itself in conjunction with writing mechanics. As well, a feedback loop was implemented, with students providing peer feedback to one another. Once feedback was received, an opportunity to revise work was provided prior to submission for summative assessment. Each student was also required to identify one area they were proud of and one area for future improvement, which would be incorporated into the second iteration.
Step 4: Rock Research
The next step in this process was for students to conduct research on the different rocks and minerals indigenous to the community. To set students up for success, I researched what rocks and minerals were indigenous and then used our Virtual Learning Commons (VLC) to provide students with age and content appropriate web links to guide learning. The VLC can be viewed here, but some snapshots of the classroom’s specific learning space has been included below.
In addition to this, all relevant books were pulled for student use. Prior to accessing the VLC, students were required to use the physical resources. Lessons on how to use a table of contents and index were provided, and the school’s other grade 3/4 class was brought in to provide peer mentoring on how to take notes using the magnet note method. This gave students the choice to either use one sticky note for one fact or one sticky note to write key words. In the magnet note method, the main topic in placed in the middle of the sticky note, with four words/phrases/points in each corner to explain the centre word. Additional sticky notes are then added to elaborate, following the same method. Below are some snapshots of student research.
Students were given topics based on preference so they were learning on areas of interest. Sticky notes were attached to construction paper for organization, and I housed them for safe keeping.
Step 5: Draft Writing
Once all areas had been researched, students were then given different areas to then take the magnet notes, organize them, and then write a paragraph on the topic. Students also needed to find a picture to represent their topic. As you can imagine, this required quite a bit of support for our struggling writers. Luckily, because we were co-teaching and there was a CEA in this block, there were three adults to support this task.
When paragraph drafts were finished, students had two peers edit their work. Then, they typed out their paragraphs using Google Docs. Once this was complete, an adult edited their work one final time. This process was completed until all paragraphs were finished.
Step 6: Book Contributions
Now that all of the paragraphs were finished, students moved to the iPads. By accessing Google Docs, the paragraphs were easily copied and pasted into blank pages in the Book Creator app. If the photos could not be transferred, students used safari to find the photo again, save it to the camera roll and then insert into the appropriate place. Each page was given a title, but this was all that was done.
Step 7: Creating a Collaborative Book
When all pages were finished, students were air dropped the Book Creator files to my iPad. Then, using screen mirroring, I showed the class how to combine the Book Creator files together.
After all pages were combined, I then air dropped the finished file to all of the students. From here, we took a tour through a bunch of published books and talked about what we noticed about layout and design. Students mentioned:
- titles were always bigger
- the same font was used
- backgrounds that weren’t distracting
- title pages
- author names
Using these a hooks, students began to design their own version of the book. Once complete, the students uploaded it to their Google Drive as well as to Fresh Grade (our districts digital report cards) in PDF, video and the Book Creator file format for future editing. Here are some finished projects.
Overall, this project was a success. Yes, it took quite a bit off time, but because the task was designed through an interdisciplinary lens with an emphasis on Science, Language Arts and ADST, the process and product served to be a valuable documentation of student learning. As well, because students were provided with voice and choice with each taking ownership over their learning, engagement and motivation were high. On the downside, this task would be difficult to execute with just one adult. It is recommended to connect with your LLC teacher and resource staff to help support on a similar endeavour.