Just like reading an interactive ebook is more engaging than reading a print textbook, creating a digital book is a lot more fun than writing a typical report or essay. But more important than making learning fun, creating an interactive ebook gives students who struggle with writing a better tool for sharing their ideas and demonstrating knowledge.
Currey Ingram Academy is a K-12 college preparatory school for students with learning differences. Many of our students struggle with written expression. Dyslexia, language processing deficits, and fine motor delays can make it challenging for a child to produce a quality written product. Students with ADHD often lack the focus for completing a major assignment. Using the right tech tool, our students can build upon their strengths to produce amazing, creative works. Because digital books give students a variety of options for sharing information, our students are highly successful when using this technology.
Here are four ways you can use digital book creation with your students:
1. Go beyond creative writing.
Though most ebook-creation platforms focus on narrative writing, most of my digital book projects are nonfiction texts. Last year, I helped second-graders write an alphabet book about Thanksgiving. Using Book Creator, each student created a page for one letter ("B is for Bread") with an image and a factual sentence about the topic. We then compiled the pages into one ebook to share with parents and other classes.
2. Share knowledge.
Digital books are an excellent assessment tool for all ages. In addition to text, students can include images, video, and audio clips. My fourth-grade students made StoryJumper ebooks about famous explorers as a culminating activity for their exploration unit. The final products are more than a project grade; the books are shared with future classes as instructional texts.
3. Create and listen with audio-integrated books.
Seventh-grade students wrote creative stories about the day aliens visited our school. Then they turned their stories into original picture books using My Story Book Creator. In addition to illustrating the books by hand (stylus), the students recorded themselves reading the text aloud in rehearsed, dramatic voices. The ebooks were shared with elementary students who enjoyed listening to books that otherwise may have been too difficult for them to read independently.
4. Don't forget the multimedia.
Many students who lack the ability or focus to compose long written passages may really shine by incorporating images and video. When given an assignment to use Book Creator to create an autobiography, one of my students with ADHD produced a very creative story told almost exclusively through video clips embedded in the book. The videos conveyed her personality in a way written language could not.
If you aren't sure where to start, check out some of my favorite tools for digital book creation:
- My Story Book Creator: Make easy-to-share, colorful picture books; the audio narration is my favorite feature. It's designed for elementary grades, but no one is ever too old to illustrate a storybook! All ages.
- Book Creator: Create professional-looking books with a wide variety of media options. It's designed for older students but simple enough for young students. It's also easy to merge pages from multiple devices. All ages.
- Creative Book Builder: It's one of the more expensive apps, but it's very versatile. Grades 6-12.
- iBooks Author: Create professional, beautiful ebooks. iBooks Author supports dictation and text-to-speech, a useful accommodation for many students. Grades 6-12.
- StoryJumper: It's easy to access and manage student accounts and share the final product. There's an extensive library of clip art/stickers, but it doesn’t support video or audio. Grades K-8.
- VoiceThread: Not an ebook platform, but I've used it for making collaborative book-like projects. Students can contribute content in a multitude of formats: images, voice, video, and text. Grades K-12.
And for a shorter assignment, or if you don't have access to a digital-book-creation platform, try making multimedia-enriched posters. Several excellent websites, such as Glogster and Thinglink, can help in creating interactive digital posters.