October 5, 2016

#ETTChat: App Smashing with Book Creator – an Interview with Tom Daccord & James Daley

This fall, as part of our #ETTchat series, Communications Editor James Daley will be chatting with our EdTechTeacher instructors about some of their favorite tools, apps, and strategies for the classroom. In this first post, he interviews Director, Tom Daccord, about App Smashing with Book Creator.

Tom Daccord is Director of EdTech Teacher, a professional learning organization that provides hands-on exploratory edtech workshops for teachers. As an educational technology speaker, instructor, and author, Tom has worked with school districts across the United States and overseas to help teachers use technology to create innovative learning opportunities for their students. I recently had the chance to speak with Tom about the creative potential of the iPad, and how apps like Book Creator allow students to demonstrate what they know, think, feel and understand about curriculum content.

Book Creator is a multimedia book-making app by Red Jumper Limited that allows users to easily create and share their own original ebooks. A consistent favorite in K-to-8 classrooms, Book Creator has an easy,  intuitive interface that allows users to create books, reports, and presentations. It’s an incredibly flexible app, providing users with a wide variety of media and tools, including handwriting, drawing, images, and video.

This flexibility is part of what makes Book Creator such an ideal tool for use in the classroom. By providing so many ways for students to create and incorporate content, it manages to touch on a great diversity of differing learning and communication styles. As Tom states, “We instinctively know that not all students learn the same and that not all students communicate their knowledge and understanding of curriculum content effectively in the same way. And so the more that we provide multiple avenues for students to express themselves, the better we have an understanding of what they know.”

Tom Daccord Creativity & iPads

Here are some of Tom’s suggestions for using Book Creator in the classroom:

Creative Collaboration

One of the best parts about using Book Creator in the classroom is that it affords the opportunity for students to work both independently and collaboratively.  An example of this that Tom discussed was an activity in which students create a multimedia tour of the ancient world. In this activity, each student works on their own to create an ebook on a specific subject and then combines their work with their classmates to create something larger than each student could have accomplished individually. For example, one student can combine images, drawings, video, and text to create a short ebook about Ancient Egypt, while another does the same for Ancient Greece, and another for Ancient Rome. When they are done with their individual work, they can combine all of their individual books into a collaborative tour of the entire ancient world, which they can then share with their teacher and classmates.

Passing the Learning Along

Another way Book Creator can enhance creative learning is by having students create their own educational content. As an example, Tom cites a middle school math teacher who used this strategy for teaching one-step equations–a concept his students consistently had difficulty with. Rather than simply going over the lesson the same way year after year, he tasked his students with creating a multimedia ebook that would explain one-step equations. Not only did the process of creating the book help the students to learn the concepts, it also provided future students with an excellent resource if they ran into the same difficulties.

Listening and Language

Book Creator can also be an excellent tool for language learners.  Tom suggests that language teachers take advantage of Book Creator’s voice recording features, and assign creative ebooks that incorporate live student recordings. By recording their own voices into the ebooks they’re making, students are able to hear and correct their own mistakes, while teachers are provided with a clear example of student speech for assessment and evaluation.

App Smashing

Perhaps the most exciting way to take advantage of the creative potential of Book Creator is by the incorporation of App Smashing. App Smashing, a term developed by EdTech Teacher instructor Greg Kulowiec, is the act of utilizing multiple creative apps on the iPad, and then “smashing” their content together to create something altogether greater than one could accomplish with any one app.  For example, say a student is creating an ebook on ancient Egypt. That student can go to the Tellagami app (an app that allows users to create animated, speaking avatars) and record themselves as an avatar in front of a sphinx discussing the history of the pyramids. That video could then be imported back into Book Creator and incorporated with the original ebook, creating a final product that is far more interesting than one app alone could accomplish.

Screencasting is another area with lots of potential for app smashing with Book Creator. Using a screencasting app like Explain Everything or Draw and Tell, students can record themselves solving math problems or demonstrating scientific processes on the iPad, while speaking through the processes they are using to solve or unravel them. These screencasts can then be imported into Book Creator and combined into an ebook that demonstrates their understanding of a wide variety of mathematical concepts.

These are just a few of the possibilities for using Book Creator and the iPad to enhance student learning through creativity. The best part about a platform as flexible as the iPad is that the possibilities for creative expressions are limitless.

Tom Daccord will be discussing this topic in far greater detail during his workshop on iPads and Creativity at the 2016 Boston Innovation Summit. To learn more about Tom’s workshop, or sign up for the summit, visit  edtechteacher.org/boston.