This app would work equally well in an ELA class or a social studies class. For a whole-class activity, project your iPad on a screen and have kids explore the timeline and experts' videos. If your whole class has the app, encourage kids to read and explore on their own. Have kids read the book chapter by chapter and discuss. Talk about how you can explore those themes in greater detail. What new information have you learned? Where could you look to learn more? Talk about how you might create some of these interactive elements in other books you read in class. What kind of timeline would be helpful for other historical fiction you've read? What facts would help extend the reading experience in other stories?Continue reading Show less
War Horse featuring Michael Morpurgo is an interactive book that features the novel of the same name plus extensive background information on the novel, its plot, and World War I. From the menu screen, you can choose Novel and Audiobook (to read the book itself), Timeline (to explore an interactive timeline of World War I), and Insights (to watch videos from historians, artists, and the author himself). A sharing button on the menu screen lets users share out a basic message via email or social media ("I'm exploring the War Horse app!") or leave feedback for the developers.
In the Novel and Audiobook, kids can browse chapters by choosing a chapter from one of 24 tiles on the main screen or start the book from the beginning. Tap the sound icon to turn narration on; you'll hear author Michael Morpurgo reading his novel. From within the Audiobook, you can reveal a timeline of events from World War I that align with the story's events. Each timeline event is tagged with a theme for easy browsing and searching (like "Western Front" and "Soldiers"); users can tap the tags to read all the entries on that theme. Entries also sport a red badge icon to note which entries are photo collections, quotes from historical figures (with optional audio), or explanatory text provided by the developers.
The Audiobook is terrific on its own. The narration is expressively read by its author, and the highlighting feature helps kids follow along as he reads. What makes this app special is how well it layers the history into historical fiction. It's astonishing to tap the "Timeline" button and see entries that align with the novel's events; kids can toggle back and forth between the events of the story and the real-life events that inspired it. Each element deepens the impact of the others. The story's made more meaningful with a heightened sense of the context, and the historical content gains richer texture from the personalization of knowing a character. That historical content is excellent, too: There's info about weapons, animal advocacy, the novel itself, and the production of the Steven Spielberg film based on the book, and there's truly something for everyone. More opportunities to personalize the experience -- by making notes or bookmarking favorite elements -- would make this excellent experience even richer. Overall, though, this app is a remarkable way to bring history to life.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.
Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.
Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they “see” and “hear” when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch.
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