Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Magazine Article!

I'm very excited because VOYA Magazine, Voice of Youth Advocates, published an article I wrote about this project in their August 2013 issue.  After the article came out, several people emailed me with questions since they had just received iPads for their schools and wanted to get some ideas.  That was my goal in writing the article - that others could benefit from what I had learned in doing it.  The other positive outcome is that I was able to give copies of the article to the students who had created ePubs for the project and they were thrilled.  One boy said with a big smile on his face, "You wrote about me!"  Yes, I did!

Monday, July 9, 2012


School is out for the summer and all of the ELL students finished their ePubs!  As I read and listened to them I was often pleasantly surprised by how well some of them had done creating their ePub.  Unfortunately I was also a little disappointed with a few of them which showed limited effort.  The ones who had created great ePubs really put time into their writing and revising, brought in many photos from home, and focused on creating quality audio recordings.
After the students were done there still was lots to do:
1.  Save their Book Creator presentations as ePubs to iTunes and sync all the iPads so that their ePubs showed up on all the iBook shelves.
2.  Save their Book Creator presentations as pdf in Dropbox so that I could access all of them later.
3.  Read and listen to all their ePubs so I could use the rubric to grade them.
4.  The best part - meet together to share all their completed ePubs!
After they saw their completed ePubs and their grades almost all of them said that I could share their work with the world.  Only two of them were too shy to share outside of their class.
Here are a few of them as pdfs:

Marie's Story
Here's Belem's story:

Belem's Story

Friday, June 8, 2012

Book Creation Apps

I've spent months checking out different book creation apps for my students to use to create their ePubs.  I've downloaded free apps and purchased one copy each of quite a few to evaluate them to see which would work best for my ELL students.  I had been getting a bit stressed since we're getting down to the wire to complete these ePubs before the end of the school year.  I want all the students to be able to proudly show off their completed work.
Let me share some of the apps I've considered:
Pages is a great word processing app, but you can't create an ePub from it yet.  You can only create ePubs from Pages on a Mac computer.
Demibooks Composer
Creative Book Builder
Book Creator 
I've decided to use Book Creator because it will allow the students to import their previously-created audio clips from iTunes and their photos in their iPhoto Library.  It's also very simple to use and gives students the ability to be creative with fonts and colors.

Students have been asked to bring photos from home which we've scanned and they've also taken some photos with the iPads.  Then the photos are imported into iPhoto and put into the folder I created matching the iPad assigned to that particular student.  Each time I sync the iPads, the scanned photos are transferred and ready for the students to use in their books.

They've already uploaded all their audio clips from iTalk into Dropbox and from there they can import them into Book Creator.  It turns out that they can record directly with Book Creator which is great, but they had already created all their audio files as we practiced improving their reading fluency.

Students should be done next week, and then we'll convert their stories into ePubs!

The students are so excited about seeing their ePubs and sharing it with their family and friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Recording Their Personal Stories

The students have been furiously working on editing their personal stories.  Last Friday they came to the library to begin recording each section, and many of them made some interesting discoveries.  I've told them repeatedly that the best way to find their writing mistakes is to hear them..  As they began to record their first entry, many students came to me to say they needed to do some rewriting because their writing "doesn't make sense."  They will be doing some more editing.
My goal is for the students to spend the next few weeks recording all of their narratives, so that they can then begin to put their digital books together making their writing, audio, and photos into an ePub.
I hope all goes well.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sharing the Cart

I've been talking with people in other districts with iPad carts about the best way to check out the iPads to classroom teachers.  Some teachers are thinking about checking them out when they can't get into the computer lab to use them for Internet research.  That is such a limited way of using a great resource.
One school district is checking out their carts on a monthly basis, having teachers fill out a one page proposal about how they'll use the iPads with their classes.  I'm hoping to check out our cart on a weekly basis offering support to help teachers explore apps they could use for projects.  There are so many free apps, but we also still have a bit of money to purchase some apps if needed.  One math teacher here checked out the cart, but before he did, he found about ten free math apps he wanted to use with his classes.  That worked really well, and the students were thrilled to use the iPads to work on math skills.  One caveat:  I tell all teachers to keep a list of which students are using which iPads so that we can identify the student if there's a problem.
I really think it's important to be able to offer professional development to staff if we want them to use the iPads as a productive tool with students, not just as a substitute for a laptop.  Last week I presented a one hour workshop for staff on iPad Tips and Tricks and got a really good response; they wanted more.  The great thing about the iPads are they are simple to use, but with some professional development, you can unlock more of their potential.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Batch Geo is a Blast!

Students will be able to share their personal experiences by answering questions.

It's been a while since I wrote because we had spring vacation, and the lessons I've been doing haven't been using the iPad, but I think they've been interesting so I thought I'd share.  I created a form in Google Docs for the students to access through their Google Apps accounts.  They filled in the form answering these questions:

1. What is your name (first name only)?
2. What city and country did your family come from?
3. Why did your family come to the U.S.?
4.  How did your family travel to the U.S.?
5.  How many years ago did your family come to the U.S.?
6.  If you moved to the U.S., how did you feel when you arrived here? 

As they filled out the form, I received the info on a Google spreadsheet.  I copied all the gathered data and pasted it into a page at

It automatically creates a Google Map for you with push pins for each student's city and country.  I shared the map with the students projecting it with the LCD- they were so excited to see their own info on a Google map.  I shared with them how they could mouse over the push pin to see more info and even click on the little man on the left to access street view.  What was especially good about this was that it inspired the students to make sure they had the right info and edit it properly.  If they misspelled their city or country, they didn't appear on the map and they all wanted to appear on the map!  Here's a link to their first try before the edits:
The next class day they were still excited as they were asked to take their written responses to the above questions and put their answers in paragraph form. 

The following week I shared a document with students called "My Story Part 2".  They answered these questions:
1.  Was it easier for you or your parents to adjust to living in the U.S.? Why?
2.  What is different about living in the U.S.?
3.  What do you like about living in the U.S.?
4.  What festivals or special traditions does your community have?
5.  What are some popular foods in your community?
6.  What is a family tradition that you love?
7.  What languages are spoken in your home?

Since then the students have been working with Ms.Sigler, their ELL teacher, on developing their answers into full paragraphs with details and correct grammar and punctuation.  It has been challenging, but they're working hard and doing well.

We will be using their written work along with photos, audio, and maybe video to create their digital books in the coming weeks. I can't wait to see their finished product!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do iPads + ELL Students = Reading Comprehension?

Last week I presented a session at the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) conference in Seattle.  The title of my session was the same as the title of this post.  I'm still not sure of the answer to the question I posed.  During formative assessments as this project proceeds, I do see quite a bit of growth for most of the students.  Recently we completed the summative assessment called the DRP (Degrees of Reading Power) which, according to the test maker, are "holistic measures of how well students understand the meaning of text. Test results are reported on the DRP Scale of Text Difficulty – the same scale that is used to measure the reading difficulty of printed material."  
The test results give us a score for each student which indicates an independent reading level and an instructional reading level.  Looking at the class's scores, 66% of the students made considerable progress on the DRP since they took it in the fall.  I think their growth has been even more exceptional since we gave the DRP in February instead of in May when the spring test really should be given.  But it is only one measure of student progress.  The students also took the new WELPA (Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment) a few weeks ago.  According to the state:
"It measures students’ growth in English language knowledge and skills. Results from this test determine which students are eligible to continue to receive ELD services."  We won't have the results from this test until May, so we shall see if any of the students were able to test out of English Language Development services.  I'm hopeful.