Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013
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Journey Into the Deep

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Multimedia journey into the ocean depths with text, images, and video

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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Grades
4-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Breathtaking photos and videos of sea life will wow kids.

Cons: Text is not fully interactive -- vocabulary words aren't linked.

Bottom Line: Undersea adventure lends itself beautifully to interactive book, although vocab terms aren't interactive.

With the Common Core's push for balancing nonfiction texts with fiction texts, interactive readers like Journey into the Deep are a great resource for engaging kids in nonfiction text. Each of the eight chapters is brief -- four to eight pages long with lots of images. Teachers could divide the chapters among the class for a jigsaw activity with each group presenting to the rest of the class about its chapter. Encourage kids to use other multimedia creation apps, like Animoto or Explain Everything, for their presentations to further engage students and deepen their learning. Teachers could also offer the app as an independent reading activity. The app includes an Accelerated Reader quiz as well.

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Journey into the Deep is an eight-chapter e-book by Rebecca L. Johnson that takes students on a first-person journey into the depths of the sea for an ocean creature census. Each page includes vivid photographs that really come to life on the iPad screen, as well as some videos of marine life in action. Each chapter goes a bit deeper into the ocean -- from Shallow Edges into the Open Water, on to the mountains of the seas, Ridges and Vents, and The Unfathomable Deep. Students will read about DNA, scientific classification, biodiversity, and chemosynthesis. They'll learn how shifting plates formed the ridges and vents in the ocean, explore what a career in marine biology is like, and read about conservation efforts to protect the sea and its creatures. A glossary, discussion questions, and links to additional resources are included.

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In her introductory video, author Rebecca L. Johnson shares her goal: to inspire young readers with a sense of wonder about the oceans. This book app certainly accomplishes that task. The beautiful photography enriched by clear and compelling language conveys a sense of adventure and excitement, and the quotations and photos of scientists working on the project make the research feel real and immediate. Discussion questions at the end extend learning, but might be more engaging if they were interactive. It would be great to have hyperlinked vocabulary, too, but overall this is an enjoyable and interesting read.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Gorgeous photographs brought to life on the HD screen engage kids more than a book alone ever could. The interactive multimedia design lets kids see more image details and watch videos for even more information.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

The depth of the content teaches kids about the world under the sea, and the breathtaking photographs are fascinating. The text is written in a kid-friendly, yet challenging, way that upper-elementary kids will appreciate.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Discussion questions at the end of the book extend learning. An Accelerated Reader quiz is available outside the app for those using the AR program.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Linda W. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Wareham Middle School
Wareham, MA
3
Great content information about all aspects of the ocean from the surface of the ocean to the deepest part of the ocean floor.

As a teaching tool Journey Into the Deep is helpful as it offers great content information about the ocean. It would best be used as a teacher-directed tool as there is a lot of vocabulary that students will not know. There is a lot of content and it would have been helpful be there were videos interspersed with the written content. It would have also been helpful to introduce the vocabulary at the start of each section so it could have been pre-taught to students. It also would have been helpful to have some Check In or reflection questions at the end of each section so students could have reviewed the key poinst for that level of the ocean. I did find the glossary helpful as well as the source notes and bibliography. The discussion questions were great at the end, but if would have been more helpful if they at the end of each section. The one addition to the app that would have been helpful would have been the inclusion of some suggested activities.

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