The Rise of e-Reading: Infographic Profile

A recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project entitled The Rise of e-Reading details the profile of the e-reader and contrasts that profile with readers of printed books.

“The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material. Using a broader definition of e-content in a survey ending in December 2011, some 43% of Americans age 16 and older say they have either read an e-book in the past year or have read other long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone.

Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers. Foremost, they are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books. Compared with other book readers, they read more books. They read more frequently for a host of reasons: for pleasure, for research, for current events, and for work or school. They are also more likely than others to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it, and they are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general, often starting their search online.” More

Here’s an infographic representation of the report.

5th Graders Write, Illustrate, Publish Their Own iBook

Recently, in an iBooks Author post, I noted “I look forward to the day when a student asks a teacher if it’s OK to turn in that project as an iBook.” Not long after, I received a comment from Jon Smith, a 5th grade teacher at Gibbs Elementary School in Canton, Ohio. He noted “I have used iBooks author with my special education students. We were able to publish the book in the iBooks store a few weeks back.” Download the free iBook here. After you download a “The Two Kids and The Desert Town,” send along your comments via iTunes or Jon’s Twitter account. The students will love to hear from you.

I wrote back to Jon and asked him for more information that I might share as a guest post with my readers. I’m pleased to see that he packaged his student reflection as an iMovie for all to see.

Jonathan noted that

We need to globalize our teaching. Kids need to understand that there are other people in this world who care about their work than just their teachers. Special Ed kids are much more capable than people give them credit for and I wanted to show that to people including the kids. … We wanted to squash stereotypes about special education students and showcase their successful work. … Our kids are really touched by the fact that nearly 400 of their iBooks have been downloaded by people from all over the world .. and they’ve received great comments on their work via Twitter.

Title: The Two Kids And Desert Town
Platform: iPad only
Cost: free
Download: here

Of course I couldn’t close this post without a book review and some screen shots. [Spoiler alert]

The Two Kids and the Desert Town is the heroic tale of Marvin and Ashley, a brother and sister who responded to a digital distress call for help. Bravely they set off to Desert Town to use their language skills to rescue the residents from a variety of linguistic perils.

Among their accomplishments – they settled a long running conflict at the intersection of Antonym Avenue and Synonym Street. At the Simile Cafe they lectured customers on the power of positive similes. Before leaving town they even manage to instruct the mayor and assembled town hall meeting on how to properly use abbreviations. Triumphantly they return home to big hugs from their anxious parents. The book is fully illustrated with hand drawn images, photographs and engaging video clips. I look forward to the sequel.

Using iBooks Author: A Video How To

For years, I’ve posted pdf versions of my lessons and made them available for free. Here’s some screenshots of a document based question (DBQ) I’m working on that explores the American Homefront in WWII. To see more of my free pdf lessons click here

Click to enlarge thumbnails

I’ve download iBooks Author and I think it’s time to turn some of my PDF lessons into iBooks. Apple’s new authoring program, certainly lowers the barrier for doing that. I look forward to the day when a student asks a teacher if it’s OK to turn in that project as an iBook.

While searching the internet for some how to guides, I found this great video introduction to the process made by Jeremy Kemp.

For more guides and tips, see my resource collection Publishing with iBooks Author

Will iPad Replace the Textbook?

In these dark times of slashed school budgets, program cuts, and teacher layoffs it seems extravagant to even consider finding funds for student iPads. Nonetheless, Brad Colbow’s video tour of new magazine apps shows the iPad’s potential for merging purposeful art direction with meaningful academic content. 

Since I first posted this today, I added a sample of what it might look like using material from my homefront series of document-based questions. Add the ability for teacher- and student-created content with in-class social networking and you have education’s killer app. Plus I bet students wouldn’t forget to bring their “book” to class!  Download IPad-educational-app-demo (7MB pdf)


Homefront America – Engage Students with Document Based Essential Questions

Update: October 2012: While this lesson is still available as a pdf (see original post below) an expanded version – Why We Fight: WWII and the Art of Public Persuasion - is now available at iBookstore It includes 43 historic posters, 13 rare films, plus numerous communiqués, photographs and recordings. Plus student “stop and think” prompts based on CCSS skills. 

Ride-hitler Recently my post: Essential Question: Who is the Teacher in Your Classroom? drew a response from a teacher looking for a more scaffolded approach to document based instruction. Here’s my response …

Homefront America in WW II (PDF) is designed to improve content reading comprehension with an engaging array of source documents – including journals, maps, photos, posters, cartoons, historic data and artifacts. (One of the central goals of the Common Core standards).
I developed it to serve as a model for blending essential questions, higher order thinking and visual interpretation. I intentionally refrained from explaining the documents, to afford students the chance to do the work of historians. A variety of thinking exercises are imbedded in the lesson to support reading comprehension. Graphic organizers support differentiated activities to assist the students in extracting meaning from the documents.

Hopefully this lesson serves as a model of how to infuse support for literacy into the more typical educational goal of content mastery. But more importantly, it is designed to demonstrate how student engagement can be “powered” by an essential question. 

Instead of attempting to teach the American homefront experience during WWII via the memorization of historical facts (like “victory” gardens), this lesson approaches the same subject through a more timeless question “How did Americans change their lives to support the war effort?”

This essential question invites the students into the material as they draw from their life experience to construct a response. Guiding questions direct students to construct comparisons between the American experience in WWII and the Iraq / Afghanistan war. Moreover, since the events of September 11th, the very notion the “homefront” has been redefined by new perceptions of terrorism and homeland security. 

Instruction is not simply an act of telling, it should instead be centered around creating learning experiences that provoke student reflection. In this lesson, source documents and literacy strategies combine to simultaneously teach content and comprehension. But more importantly, an essential question serves as a springboard to engage students in a deeper reflection on the notion of sacrifice in the historical context and in their own lives.

Scaffolding questions include …

Pre Reading / Think Before You Start: 

Before you begin this lesson,think about and discuss in small groups the following questions: 

  • What resources are needed to wage a war? 
  • How could people on the home front help to supply these resources? 
  • What would you be willing to contribute to a war effort? 

Post Reading / The Question Today: 

Civilians have always been impacted by war and they are frequently called upon to contribute to national war efforts. Since the events of September 11, 2001, the United States has fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

  • How have Americans on the homefront contributed to the effort? What have they sacrificed?
  • How do those efforts compare with the home front in WWII? 
  • How did the attacks of September 11 change the nature of the “homefront?”

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