Sunday, February 7, 2016

Week 3 PLN: Global Publishing through Ebooks

This week was all about eBooks. I have not given much thought about eBook use in the classroom before because, as you may have read in some of my previous posts, I do not have a great resource of technology for my students to use. We have 4 computers in our room and twice a week we get to use the computer lab. However, I am seriously trying to figure out how I can incorporate them more into my classroom after watching the weekly topic video.

I can see eBooks impacting the writing process in a huge way. Some students love to write and you don't need fun, engaging ways to get them motivated. For others, however, that's just not the case. Most times when technology is integrated, students motivation level automatically increases by at least a little bit. They begin to get curious. Students love using the computers to find information, play videos, and play games. Students also like to write for an audience. Anytime I mention anything about who will see the work, students' performance always goes up. Incorporate the writing into the technology so that anyone can see and you've got something big. We recently started blogging in my classroom, and student motivation has already gone up. They love that the other students can see what they wrote, they love that they can comment on others posts, and they love typing on the computer. When I tell students we are going to create a book on the computer or iPad and we can put it on iTunes so that people from all over the world can download it, I can only imagine the motivation and effort that they will put into the book(s) they create. The more students write, the more their writing improves. When students write on paper, I'm lucky if I can get 3 or 4 sentences out of some students. As soon as I had students start blogging, the length of students writing has increased. I think that eBooks will have the same effect because they will be engaged in the process and they will want to write more.

It was interesting when Jon Smith was discussing the three reasons why students don't want to write.

1. The teacher (1 person) is not a big enough audience for these students. They put so much time and effort into their work for only YOU to see it and that's not enough for them anymore.
2. There is no sense of contribution or purpose for what they are doing.
3. They are not leaving behind anything (a legacy).

By having students create eBooks, it addresses all three of those reasons. It gives them a bigger audience, the purpose for writing is to persuade, entertain, or inform their audience, and they are leaving something behind (a book) to represent what they did during their time in school. They can also contribute to each others work and give feedback to help each other write great books.

This will effect student's during the writing process in a couple key ways. They will want to write better material with more substance because people from all over will be viewing it, and they will pay more attention to the mechanics of their writing because, again, people from all over will be viewing it. 

Another point I found interesting from Jon's presentation was that many students are not very motivated to write because of the writing prompts. This will affect my teaching because I am going to need to step back and reanalyze the prompts I am giving to students. If I give a prompt, I need to make sure it is one students want to write about, or I need to give them several to choose from that meets their interests. Another thing is that I should give them time to write without prompts. Let them write about and create stories on topics they want to write about! It will also effect my teaching because instead of writing on paper and pencil all the time, I will now need to work with students and spend time on teaching them how to create eBooks. I will also need to find some resources that will enable them to create these eBooks.

The main benefits to using student created eBooks in the classroom are:
I would like to start using student-created eBooks in my classroom for students to create books of all genres connecting to what we are learning in all subject areas. For example, students can create a how-to book explaining how to solve math problems using a variety of strategies that we learn about in class. They can create an expository text about weather and the water cycle. Students could create a fiction story incorporating problem and solution or sequencing. Students could create a narrative nonfiction or biography on someone's life they researched, on their own life, a family members life, or on an event that happened in their life. Students could also collaborate with partners, small groups, or the entire class to create a book that each member contributes to every step of the way from pre-writing to drafting to editing and revising to publishing.

The main considerations to keep in mind in order to use them effectively:
  • What is the purpose of the eBook?
  • Why are students creating this eBook?
  • Does this eBook help them meet the learning standards?
  • How much support will students need to create the eBook?
  • Will they need other resources when creating the eBook?
  • How much time will students need to spend on them?
  • Since I only have one iPad, how will I ensure everyone gets a chance to work on an eBook in a timely manner. 
The most striking thing I took away from Jon's presentation was the fact that so many people are actually downloading these books and reading them. When he was first talking about it I was thinking who would download these student-created books? However, people did. In fact, many people did. The fact that people downloaded them enabled them to incorporate math skills (graphing) and social studies skills (mapping) into the lessons, and it gave the students even more motivation to write. This impacted my learning about eBooks because it got me thinking about a couple things. There really is a bigger audience and purpose for students when creating these books. Not only can students create their own eBooks, but they can also download other students books from around the state, country, and even world. These will be great examples to show students what other kids are working on and learning around the world. It will show them different ideas and techniques that they could possibly incorporate into their eBooks or topics they may want to explore and write about. It would also be fun for students to learn about new topics from student authors versus adult authors, teachers, and textbooks. One other thing that was really striking to me was that these students who were completely against writing were now so motivated to write and were seriously involved in the process every step of the way. That has also impacted my learning because it was a true, concrete example of how the topic I am learning about, eBooks, truly helps students grow.

You will notice that one of the benefits and one of the considerations I listed were linked to an article. After I finished this post, I didn't feel quite done so I went to Twitter and Google to do a little more research on student-created eBooks. I found that article and I recommend anyone interested in using student-created eBooks to check it. It addresses many things you might come across, such as: the purpose for creating eBooks, ideas on what to write about, copyright considerations and more. If you didn't already check it out above, check it out here!

If you have any ideas for how I can have my 24 students (25 on Tuesday--I'm getting a new one!) create eBooks in my classroom using only one iPad, please share!

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