Entries in ebooks (4)


7th Graders Publish Their Own Textbook

I thought of my fifth grade classroom as a web publishing organization. Whenever it seemed appropriate, we shared our artwork, writing, videos, and other projects on our website, Planet 5th. If I was teaching fifth graders today, we would be crafting our own learning materials, including writing our own textbooks. That's exactly what Andrea Santilli and her seventh graders at Woodlawn Beach Middle School have done. Their eBook, Creatures, Plants and More: A Kids Guide to Northwest Florida, is a top seller in Apple iBookstore. Here's the description of what's in the free eBook's 133 pages:

Creatures, Plants and More is an interactive field guide of Northwest Florida.  The stories and photos are a collection of what students  from Woodlawn Beach Middle School have compiled for everyone to enjoy.  If you are interested in visiting Florida's Best Kept Secret, look no further, the answer lies within the pages of this book!  Enjoy fascinating interactive photo galleries and videos that will AMAZE you!

Andrea and her Advanced Life Science students used iBooks Author to create their highly interactive eBook. All of the photos in the book are ones in which students took themselves. The same goes for the book's videos. The students did a great job. It's not a professionally produced book, but there are lots of things other aspiring iBook authors can learn from these seventh graders. Andrea tells me that currently the book has had over 2,700 downloads from 23 different countries. Those numbers serve as validation of her students' hard work.


Mac Life wrote an article titled Super 7th Graders Publish Their Own eBook to the iBookstore. It explains the project in more detail. "Each student has to choose an organisms they wanted to study and were required to submit their topic for approval. Afterward, students had to write informative – but entertaining! – articles about their organism."

Andrea collected work from 69 students and entered it into iBooks Author. iBooks Author is free but only works on Macs running 10.7 Lion or higher. I'm not sure how Andrea did it, but I would have students layout their pages in their own iBooks Author files, collect their files, and copy and paste the pages into a master book. 

iBooks Author is a fantastically powerful tool. Although it is similar to Pages, Keynote, and Numbers for Mac I find it slightly complicated to use. Luckily, you can find some great iBooks Author tutorials and helpful websites:

There are some disadvantages to using iBooks author for crafting your own learning materials. The biggest issue is that iBooks Author books can only be read on an iPad in the iBooks app. You can't even read the eBook on an iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, or PC. iBooks Author will export your work as a PDF, however, the PDF will lack the interactive table of contents, photo galleries, videos, and other hands-on elements. While I love the format iBooks Author provides, I think that I might still publish a student-made textbook as a website so that it is accessible on all devices and computers. It's just that what you can make with iBooks author is so slick and impressive. Another plus for iBooks Author is that by going through an application process you can have your book listed in the iBookstore.

Check out what Andrea and her students say about writing their book. Fox 10 News filmed a story about the students' publishing efforts that aired May 9, 2012.



I think the comment by CNEBBY in the Customer Reviews of Creatures, Plants and More sums up the project well: "This is an awesome example of what kids can do when they are properly motivated by a skilled teacher."


Hurry! Free eBooks from Kaplan

Kaplan Publishing is offering 100 free eBooks in the iBooks Store. To see what books are available, you first must download the free iBooks app (which requires an iPad or iOS 4).

Launch iBooks, tap Store, tap the Featured tab, and tap the ad for Kaplan's free books, or go to tonyv.me/kapfree in mobile Safari. You are taken to a page where you can see the free books in the categories of College, Graduate, Law, Medicine, Nursing and Education.

Free books include in the Education category include First Year Teacher, Sharp Vocabulary, Sharp Writing, Kaplan 101 Biology Practice Questions, and SOS: Stressed Out Student' Guide to Handling Peer Pressure.

The books are free until August 30, 2010.

If you'd like to be in the know for timely deals on eBooks and apps, follow me on Twitter (username tonyvincent) and/or search Twitter for the hashtag #edapp.


Free Poetry Resources for You to See

Poetry eBooksK12 Handhelds has made available several poetry curriculum resources for Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, and desktop/laptop computers.

You can download Types of Poetry and Poetry Anthology eBooks. The eBooks are in Mobipocket format and have lots of examples with linked vocabulary words. Mobipocket is a cross-platform eBook reader and you can download it for free. Windows users can even download the free Mobilpocket Creator for making your own cross-platform eBooks. [There are not versions of Mobipocket for Mac and Linux computers--but you can use a Mac to install Mobipocket to a Palm handheld.]

Also available from K12 Handhelds is a Poetry Scavenger Hunt in Microsoft Word format. You can use Palm's Documents To Go or a Pocket PC's Word Mobile to view and complete the scavenger hunt.

Another freebie is a 10-question Poetry Types Quiz in Quizzler format. Quizzler is available for Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, Macintosh, and Windows.

K12 Handhelds also points to additional resources teachers might use, including two great poetry podcasts. The podcasts are from Houghton Mifflin and School Library Journal.

Finally, K12 Handhelds offers a one-page PDF called Poetry Classroom Activities that gives simple and advanced ideas for using these resources. Activities include comparing poems, creating a poetry blog, and highlighting metaphors, similes, and other literary devices in Mobilpocket.

Thanks K12 Handhelds for making these resources freely available!

Screenshots of Resources

Note: Recall my tip in Soft Reset #19... If you are trying to download a file and only weird text shows up in your browser's screen, click your browser's Back button. Then right-click (Mac users can Control-click) and choose "Download Linked File" or "Save Link As..." from the context menu. The file is saved to the desktop. If the file is saved with a .txt extension, click the file name and remove the .txt. Then the downloaded file should have the correct icon and function properly.


Can eBooks Help Reluctant Readers?

E-ReadersKathy Schrock wrote a two-page article about eBooks in the current issue of i.e. magazine from SMART Technologies. E-Readers: Can Electronic Books Help Reluctant Readers? starts on page 10. Certainly the answer to the title of the article is a resounding yes!

Kathy mentions Dr. Terry Cavanaugh's book, The Digital Reader: Using E-books in K-12 Education. The book is full of advice and resources for teachers. It offers a list of five strategies for high school teachers to support reluctant readers. Though, these strategies can surely be used for all readers. Kathy briefly explains the strategies:

  • Offer a wide range of reading materials.
  • Use pre-reading techniques.
  • Incorporate large-print materials.
  • Engage multiple modalities.
  • Teach important vocabulary.
Kathy summaries why eBooks are great for students: "The use of electronic books and the myriad of features available, can be of help to all students. The ability to access reference material while they are reading, highlight text with a virtual highlighter for note-taking and studying, and create a side note within the e-book to come back to later, are all key factors that enhance student's reading ability."

You can download the Autumn 2006 edition of i.e. magazine in PDF format. You can have a paper edition mailed to you by subscribing for free here.