Supporting Language Learners with Book Creator
By Ramona Towner
I first started using Book Creator in the fall of 2013. The app had not been out very long at that point. It was appealing to have a digital book format for students to use to create their own stories.
The user interface was simple, clean and easy to use. Book Creator has used teacher and student feedback and continued to upgrade their app as any good ed tech company should.
We are all language learners. That is how we approached writing the book Supporting Language Learners with Book Creator. The 14 strategies that we share in the book are good for your English Language learners, your IEPed students and all the diverse learners in your classroom. Simply, these strategies are good for all learners. Book Creator is an app that allows students to access all 4 language domains, reading, writing, speaking and listening to create, read, listen to, and publish content on their iPad or in their web browser. I like Book Creator because it is easy enough to use that any teacher or student can get started even if they’re not comfortable with using technology, but it has enough bells and whistles that a high school senior could really create some amazing content!
I like Book Creator because users can:
Here are a few examples from the book. Imagine what it would be like to start school in a new country where you don’t speak the language. New comers are able to use their own creativity to make a book. They can take pictures and/or video of their new school. They can then record their own voice in both their native language and their new language to describe their surroundings.
Idea number 5 from the book, students can create a list of cognates, or a personal dictionary. Language learners can keep digital lists of new words or academic vocabulary, add pictures or videos for support, hear the correct pronunciation (Read to Me) and record their own voice and definition or description in a way that makes sense to them.
Use Book Creator to store videos of lessons using TPR (total physical response). TPR is used to create meaning through motion. Comprehension is the first step to language acquisition, not word production. A student can record different TPR moves used in class by his teacher and classmates for both common phrases and academic vocabulary. These non-verbal movements allow the language learning student to participate in a non-threatening way while listening to new vocabulary being pronounced correctly. They will be learning meaning through a physical movement that activates retention.
Math isn’t just numbers. The rest of the world uses the metric system. Newcomers need to learn the names of our customary units of measure and depending on the grade level can compare them to metric units of measure. They can do this by using pictures and recording their voice. Here is an example of a measurement book made by a 5th grade student.
Book Creator allows students to use their own creativity to create their own books. They are more engaged in creating a project that demonstrates their thinking and understanding of their new language. The multimedia components available in the app support all types of learners and hits multiple modalities of learning.
Ramona Towner has been a public school teacher in Berwyn South School District 100 for 32 years. She is currently an Instructional Coach that travels to 8 schools helping teacher implement best practices and technology integration. Ramona believes that devices give students the opportunity to demonstrate their thinking and understanding of a particular topic in a manner that suits their learning style.