Archives for September 2014

Student Authoring with Book Creator

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.42.04 PMBack in the days before technology was so readily available, I had my students write stories and turn them into books using file folders covered with construction paper as book covers, and we would bind them using the giant book-binder and plastic bindings that I purchased for my classroom. We would create collaborative class books in the same way. Today, students can use apps on the iPad that to write and publish their own e-books. One such app, Book Creator, by Red Jumper, is easy to use and allows students to create beautiful books on the iPad that are viewable in many different apps, including iBooks.

How Does Book Creator Work?

If this is your first time using the app, be sure to take a look at the Getting Started guide. It allows you to see a book and it gives you the chance to move things around and explore before having to create your own.Book_Creator_start

When you tap “New Book” to create a new project, you will have the chance to choose the type of book you’d like: portrait, square or landscape. Book_Creator_shape

The book will open to a blank cover. It’s up to the author to decide what should go on the book’s cover. There are many different types of elements for students to add to the cover and to the pages of the book.Book_Creator_elements

Elements can be moved around the page, resized, and deleted if necessary. Tapping on an element and then on the “i” icon will open an editing menu for the element.Book_Creator_edit_text

You can also tap on the “i” icon without having anything highlighted, and that will open the menu to edit the page.Book_Creator_edit_page

When the book is finished, you can open it in other apps, or it can be exported in a variety of formats. You can export it as an ePub, a PDF, or a video. Books can also be opened in other apps. This can be done from within a book or from the “My Books” page.Book_Creator_open_in

Common Core Connection

If I listed all of the Common Core State Standards that could be addressed as students use Book Creator app, this post would go on forever! The app can be used for students to meet just about any Common Core State Standard in English Language Arts or in Math. Writing books helps students show what they know about any topic in any subject matter. Using Book Creator is a fantastic way to help students not only show their understanding to the teacher and their classmates, but they can share their books with the world, as well. Along with the Common Core standards that are being met, students exhibit the 21st Century Skills of communication, critical thinking, and creativity when they create. Of course, if the book is a collaborative effort, and if students share their books with others and ask for feedback, they are also using collaboration skills.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Book Creator in your classroom? What kinds of books have you asked students to write?

Create Awesome Comics with Comics Head Lite

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 11.32.35 AMI used to love to read the Sunday funnies. I’d wait (somewhat) patiently until my parents were finished with the paper, and then I’d read the entire comics section. When I became a teacher, I bought the Sunday paper each week just so I could have some comics to bring into my classroom and share with my students. Sometimes I would incorporate them into a lesson, and sometimes I’d bring them in just for giggles. I also had my students create their own comics to tell short snippets of a longer story, much the way the comics do each week. So when the iPad entered my classroom, I kept searching for a comic creator app that was easy to use… and free. I’ve tried many different comic creator apps, and each one hasn’t been what I needed. And though the search has been a couple of years long, I think I’ve finally found what I’ve been searching for in Comics Head Lite.

What is Comics Head Lite?

Comics Head Lite is the free version of Comics Head, which is a powerful comic creator app. The Lite version is pretty robust itself, and teachers and students can easily use the current free version to create comics. Choose from different layouts, different templates, or create your own. There are so many options— I just have to show you!

There are a few ways to get started. If this is your first time to the app, you can choose to Create New Comic, or you can pick from a template at the bottom of the screen.

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Next, select the toy box icon from the icons list at the top. This will give you access to all the different backgrounds, characters, props and fx, and your photos. Swipe to the left on a row of icons in any of these areas for more choices.IMG_0900

To add text or dialogue, choose the speech bubble icon. “Edited” means that you can actually edit the size and shape of the speech bubble. “Simple” means that you can re-size the speech bubble, but it changes proportionately. Just pinch the speech bubble to resize it. IMG_0901

Draw your own pictures, add shapes and lines, and change the colors of pretty much anything by choosing the icon that looks like a pencil cup. You can always tap the image if you want to delete them once they have been added to the comic.IMG_0902

Choosing the icon that looks like three pieces of paper will show all the layers of your project. This allows you to lock layers so that you can adjust parts of the comic without moving everything.

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Free Vs. Paid

There are benefits, of course, to purchasing the app for $3.99. The free version has limited sharing options, but it allows the most important one— save as image! Once the image is in your camera roll, you can open it in any other app (known as app-smashing) or you can upload it somewhere online. The free version also limits each comic to only one page. You can get around this by saving a finished comic page to the camera roll and then editing the comic to preserve the characters and background. When you are finished with the next page, save it to the camera roll and continue like that until the comic is finished.

The paid version allows many more options for sharing and exporting comics, and it allows more saving options, as well. As I noted above, in the paid version, students can create multi-page comics, and they can also save their comics as templates for future use. You also get many more art assets, parental controls, additional editing features, and there’s also the option to print pages via air print.

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Common Core Connection

Comics Head Lite can help your students with many of the Common Core State Standards for Literacy and Writing. It can be used across the curriculum for students to show what they know on any number of subjects. While it may seem like Comics would be used mostly for narrative writing, comics can be used for students to write informative/explanatory pieces as well as opinion/argument pieces. I came across a free Teacher’s Manual download from Dover Books, which highlights specific standards (for grades 3-5) that are addressed when students create comics. If you teach other grades, you can still follow the strand to see which standards apply for your grade level. The manual contains activities that are specific to the Word Play! text sold on the website, but I included the link because the lesson activities are ideas that can be adapted to work with your curriculum and Comics Head Lite.

What Do You Think?

Have you found a different comic creator app that you like? Have you tried Comics Head or Comics Head Lite? How have you used it with students?

A Whole New Look for Educreations

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 11.26.59 AMI was so excited last night to see some of the changes that have been made to the Educreations app. According to the Educreations Facebook page, the update was just released yesterday and I happened upon it last night! Here I will tell you about some changes to the app, but if you want to read my original post with instructions for setting up your Educreations classroom and the Common Core connections with using the app, click here.

What’s Different?

You’ll see a refined color palette, different icons, and a new logo. You now have more sharing options within the app, and there’s a basic plan and a pro plan.

Here’s the new start screen. This hasn’t changed much, but the coloring is different.

Educreations Main Screen

When you create a new lesson, you’ll notice the new colors are calmer and more muted. You do have more choices, though– just tap one of the circles.

educreations colors

 

At first, I thought the option to add text had been removed, but it wasn’t (sigh of relief). It’s just hidden in the “add content” plus sign. There are more options for adding content now, too–but they are only available by upgrading to Pro.

educreations add

 

educreations clear

If you do add text or an image in the background, you still have cropping, editing, and locking abilities. Locking the text or image just means it won’t move as you draw over the rest of the page.

What’s New?

One of the best new features is the ability to save a draft! That’s huge– students can come back and continue working the next day. The limitation is that with the free version, they have to finish one draft before they can begin another.

Educreations draft

Sharing has also been majorly upgraded!  You can share your videos from two different places. If you play your finished video, you will notice the share icon in the top right corner. Choose it at any time to share via email or Twitter, to copy the link, or to copy the embed code. You can also share from your Lessons page. Select the lesson and choose the share icon.

If you upgrade to Pro, you will also have the option to… wait for it… save to camera roll! This is huge. I wish it were part of the free version, but it’s not. Still, having the option to get the embed code or a link to the video directly from the app is a bonus.

Upgrading to Pro

Here’s part of the comparison chart for basic and pro. You can see the entire comparison chart at Educreations.com.
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What Do You Think?

How are you feeling about the new changes to Educreations? Will you upgrade to Pro or stick with the free version?