Not many people publish a book as the result of a semester’s worth of work. But that’s just what 20 graduate students in the School of Education and Human Development’s EDU 647: Projects in Curriculum & Instruction class did in the fall 2015 semester.
They created multi-touch books, using iBooks author, with each interactive book designed to support and strengthen home, school and community relationships, according to Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Karrin Lukacs, Ph.D., who taught the course. All the books – which cover a variety of preschool through 12th grade general and special education topics, ranging from early literacy skills to life after high school – were published on iTunes U (check here for all the course-produced books).
Lukacs pursued the class project after being inspired by a visit to Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters. While the project also ultimately inspired many students, Lukacs admits the learning curve was steep for the enthusiastic group of students.
“It was very intimidating at first,” said Carol Kee ’15, who teaches first grade in Loudoun County and wrote the first-grade social studies book, “From Kangaroo To Didgeridoo.” “I spent so much time up-front learning the software. I didn’t know what a widget was or how to use them. I had ideas for making the book fun, but had trouble finding the right widget to do what I wanted. It was very frustrating. It was also tricky learning about copyrights. But once I had my chapters organized, found my pictures and got started, I had so much fun putting this book together. I pictured my students using this book and that made writing it even more exciting.”
Kee has already shared her book with her first-grade teammates, who she said loved it. “We plan to use it in the spring when we teach this unit. They have each downloaded the book onto their iPads. We can use the AppleTV to display it on our interactive whiteboards to teach a whole group lesson or the students can read it independently on the iPad.”
Jessica Dascenzo ’16, who hasn’t yet started her teaching career, both wrote and illustrated “Rascal’s Letter Adventure.” Her choice of book topic arose out of several interests and goals. “I love children’s literature and have spent many semesters studying and understanding teaching phonemic awareness among other areas of teaching reading. For me, the opportunity to leverage parents in the teaching process of one of the most important aspects of learning how to read seemed like a perfect marriage.” She notes that she drew most of the illustrations for her book (not all) “because I was hoping it would feel more relatable or appealing to a young reader. I’ve always been attracted to children’s books that use mixed media.”
“All of them really put their all into it,” Lukacs said of the project, which she said is one of the highlights of her eight years of teaching graduate students. “I was so excited to see them get excited.”
The project culminated in a party, celebrating the publication of the books. Kee said she was thrilled to become a published author. “It’s a greater feeling of accomplishment than writing a paper that only your professor sees.”
The project was so successful, according to Lukacs, that several students are already planning to write another book. Dascenzo, who is a Windows user who had to familiarize herself with Apple products to create her book, was particularly inspired, and she would like to write a whole series of books featuring her Rascal character.
The course is offered every semester, and although Lukacs isn’t teaching it this spring, she understands that creating a multi-touch book is one of the project options for students. And when she teaches the course again, the multi-touch books definitely will be slated again.
Lukacs is proud of what the students accomplished, and she’s shared their work with a senior content manager at Apple. “I think the word’s getting out there,” about the books, she said.
Check out the books for yourself:
- Building Number Sense At Home
- I Am Alive!
- Rascal’s Letter Adventure
- From Kangaroo to Didgeridoo
- Can I Play?
- Painless Parts of Speech
- Dewey the Dog
- Stepping Stones to Success
- Middle School Math Madness
- After High School
- The Thrill of Coin Collecting
- Think, Write, Check, Reach, Reach Out
- Reading Between the Culture
- Geometry: Quadri-what???
- Water Quality and Biological Sampling
- Ecology: Our World’s Perfect Puzzle
- Pre-Algebra Math Review
- Gracie Greater Than and Livi Less Than Gobble Up the Ocean
- The Basics: Safety & Sanitation in the Kitchen
- Reach Your Goals the S.M.A.R.T. Way!