These digital textbooks could replace any traditional textbook with comparable content or supplement a unit on ecology. Students can read chapters independently or in small groups, and they can complete the chapter or custom tests on their own. If the number of devices is limited, have students take turns completing the tests. When finished, students can email their tests directly to the address entered on the app as "Teacher Email." To demonstrate mastery, assign small groups of students a different biome for research, and let them create a slide-show presentation or poster summarizing the material.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: Crack the Books is no longer available for download.
Crack the Books is a series of interactive textbooks that each cover a different biome. All the textbooks have the same general layout and offer the same features. The textbooks include Pines to Vines, Seashores to Seafloors, Parched Planet, Blades, and Aquatic Earth. While Common Sense Education has previously reviewed three individual titles, Crack the Books contains a collection of all textbooks with Pines to Vines offered as a free trial. Adding the subscription unlocks all books and added bonus content. Alternatively, teachers can purchase the other books individually.
There are six options on the home page: Read, Map, Media, Tests, Settings, and Credits. The Read option is where students will find the majority of content. On the left side of the screen, students swipe to read text through a reading pane. As various keywords pass through an arrow in the middle of the pane, supporting media appear on the right. Students can tap green keywords to trigger the visual support and purple keywords to see and hear word definitions. Students can also highlight text and create notes as they read. In the Map feature, students can rotate and tap on different biomes around the globe and have access to photos, videos, and an interactive glossary in the Media feature. In the Tests feature, students can access chapter tests, create custom tests, and choose a reading level for each. The subscription version also offers bonus content such as current-event videos and articles, coloring pages, activities, and interactive games.
Crack the Books was carefully developed to engage kids while supporting a mix of learning styles and reading levels. The textbooks cover a variety of biomes in beautiful detail: forests, oceans, deserts, grasslands, and freshwater bodies. Five reading levels are available ranging from first through eighth grades, with supports that include text-to-speech, highlighting, and note taking. As they read, students can change text size and record their voices while reading vocabulary terms.
By exploring the interactive text and graphics, students will discover unique features of each biome. These include the location and climate, the plants and animals that live there, and how their adaptations help them survive. Some interactive elements can be distracting for students who might be tempted to scroll through without reading. Students can use the interactive glossary to build vocabulary and improve speech and language skills, and the bonus content is a fun way for students to extend and apply what they learned. Getting the hang of all the features and downloading the books can take a bit of time, so teachers may need to do some initial planning.
Key Standards Supported
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.
Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
Earth and Human Activity
Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.