It must be somewhat dissatisfying for a student to spend hours perfecting something (whether an essay, a story, a piece of artwork, a presentation, or even a movie) only to turn it in to a teacher and have to wait a few weeks to get it back with a few comments, maybe a few corrections, and a grade. While teachers must help and encourage students to become more creative and be better writers, having the teacher be the only audience lacks something—authenticity. If students could create something for a specific audience (and actually have that audience view their work), they might focus more on their craft knowing that anyone could see it, right?
To test this theory, I challenged my students to write an enhanced ebook (using video and written text). In fact, four junior high English classes wrote separate ebooks and submitted them to Apple—and two of them are now available to download on iTunes!
In the 8th grade English classes, we formed six teams (writing, editing, video, graphics, promotion, and publishing) that worked simultaneously and collaboratively in order to create our final product. Rather than simply assigning students all the roles or even one specific role, students selected their own teams based on their individual preferences. Don’t we all want to work in our strengths?
The 7th grade Language Arts classes were considerably smaller, so we took a difference approach: each student created an entire page with written text and video.
In each class, students voted on their class’ topic and then created an audience profile—making sure that the book was written with someone specifically in mind (not just me, the teacher). After three weeks of brainstorming, collaborating, updating each team’s daily progress, editing rough drafts, creating videos, designing a cover and illustrations, and putting everything together using the Book Creator App, each class had a finished product they created entirely by themselves ready to publish.
For several of my students, this was the first writing assignment/project they’d ever done that focused on creating value for the audience rather than focusing on the expectations of a rubric and creating something to please the teacher. Creating an enhanced ebook for a specific audience who might actually read the book gave this project the thing that many assignments are often missing—authenticity.
Click below to download our iBooks to your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or other IOS device. (Don’t worry—they’re free!)
(written by 7th graders to help upcoming 7th graders learn everything they need to know about life on Mustang Mountain)—AVAILABLE NOW!
(written by 8th graders [6th period])—AVAILABLE NOW!
(written by 8th graders [2nd period])—Coming soon
(written by 8th graders [3rd period])—Coming soon