Tag Archives: eBook

How to Get Free eBooks on Your Mobile Device

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

With the rise and prominence of eBooks have come a number of resources for educators and students to access free content on virtually any device. Using e-readers, tablets, or computers; in conjunction with apps such as Kindle, Nook,iBooks, Google Play Books, and OverDrive; you can access libraries of books for free on virtually any device. By downloading these free apps, you make your device a digital reading device that is not dependent on a specific vendor. JenCarey-1

Once you have the apps installed on your device, there are many resources you can use to find free eBooks. While books in the public domain are readily available, there are also self-published books, books available to educators, books on special promotions, and even places that will allow you to check out books temporarily. Here are a few places that you can go to find free eBooks:

  • Kindle books – Kindle curates a list of free and low priced books ($1.99)here; come back regularly for newly added materials, especially during promotions and the holiday season. If your school has signed up for Amazon’s Whispercast service, you can even push books directly to students’ Amazon accounts.
  • Nook Books – Barnes and…

For the rest of this article, see the post on FreeTech4Teachers.

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Free Library of Congress eBooks for students

These are great resources!

History Tech

As more and more schools are moving away from paper textbooks and materials, teachers are working to answer the obvious question:

where can I find digital resources appropriate for kids?

If you and your building is using Mac computers or IOS devices such as iPads or iPods, at least part of the answer is the Library of Congress. The folks over there recently released six free iBooks that can be quickly downloaded and are perfect for having students interact with primary source evidence.

The Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Based on the Library’s Primary Source Sets, these new iBooks have built-in interactive tools that let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis.

(Aren’t an Apple school? The LOC is still an awesome place to find online…

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Metamorphosis of the Biology Textbook

I’m excited to attend this next session “Metamorphosis of the Biology Textbook” with Morgan Ryan and Gaël McGill, Ph.D., co-creators of E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth, a new textbook created via iBooks Author and available on the iBooks bookstore (free).

The vision of the project was to create a series of vibrant textbooks in a new, media platform. The textbook is a standard Biology textbook, 41 chapters across 7 volumes. They wanted it to be standards based and familiar, but at the same time different than what people have seen before. Morgan tells us that what is great about an e-Textbook is that it allows the author to regularly update their content. Instead of printing a new volume, you can input new material.

In addition to the textbook, they also have included an iTunes U course in conjunction with the text. They can even gamify the course with badges. Very cool!

The Power of Scientific Visualization

Screen shot from E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth. The text discusses a previously unknown species of carpenter ant collected by E.O. Wilson in Gorongosa National Park during a textbook development expedition to Mozambique in the summer of 2011

Screen shot from E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth. The text discusses a previously unknown species of carpenter ant collected by E.O. Wilson in Gorongosa National Park during a textbook development expedition to Mozambique in the summer of 2011

Visualizing content is powerful in a teaching medium. It should not just be used to engage students, but strategically to impact learning. Gaël is now demonstrating for us several elements of the book. He says that it incorporates pedagogy, science, art, and design. Using iBooks Author, you can incorporate elegant design into building a textbook. With an eBook format, students are welcomed into the book with a short video. It’s simple, yet elegant. Just looking at the book, it is beautifully designed. The structure, colors, and layout are really striking. Gaël points out that the widgets in iBook author can be very basic or advanced and incorporate coding language.

Gaël says that he wants to empower students to consume data at their own pace. This can empower learners as they explore data and information. He says that in the book, they shifted the control of navigating the data to the students, not the textbook or even the teacher. I love tools that empower learners. In addition to included student guided directives, they also included well constructed documentaries for students to watch. He also emphasizes, however, that this is not a replacement for the lab experience!

I have to say, for me, this is a great example of what an eTextbook can be! It’s truly engaging, interactive, and exemplifies a variety of consumption and teaching methods.

Rent eBooks, Audiobooks, and Videos for FREE from your local Library

The is reblogged from my post on Freetech4teacher

I spend way too much money on books! This year, I made a concerted effort to get more books from the library to help my budget. On my first visit to a local library, I learned that they used Overdrive to rent eBooks and audiobooks! So now, I can check out eBooks and audiobooks from home and read them on my iPad! Overdrive allows you to rent eBooks, Audiobooks, and even video straight from your local library! There are no fees associated with this service. All you need is a library card!

Poster
To see if you library partners with Overdrive, simply make a quick search on their site. You can then create an Overdrive account using your library card. Download the App onto your Computer, iOS, or Android device and you’re ready to start checking out material! The nice thing about an Overdrive account is that you can sync your content across devices! Never lose your spot on your eBook or Audiobook! When your rental expires, it automatically goes back to the library, so no late fees!

For more app ideas, EdTechTeacher has great recommendations for reading audiobooks. You can also learn more at their November 13-14 iPad Summit in Boston where I will be a featured presenter.

NAIS – Going All In: The Ins & Outs of Creating a Digital Curriculum

This year, the NAIS annual conference is being held in Orlando Florida at the Walt Disney World Resort. As such, Ransom Everglades made it possible for several dozen teachers to attend the conference on Friday, the teacher focus day.

The first workshop that I’m attending is “Going All In: The Ins & Outs of Creating a Digital Curriculum” with Tim Sheehan, Andrew Schneider, and Amanda Schirmacher of the Latin School of Chicago. They are sharing how they created an all digital curriculum for fourth grade Social Studies.

The Dreamer

Amanda takes the reigns to discuss the topic, “The Dreamer.” As a fourth grade cohort, Tim, Amanda, and Andy work closely to develop their social studies curriculum building off of the work of their predecessors. The Latin School of Chicago has allotted several travel grants. Using a variety of travel grants, faculty visited numerous countries, such as India and Japan, creating a travelogue.

The next stop was to evolve these packets into digital content – especially something that could be read on an iPad. This way, they could create multi-model, interactive units that included written word, images, video, music, etc. With pressure from public school arenas, such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, for schools to enter the digital realm then it makes sense that Independent Schools should not just be following the norm, but spear heading the initiatives.

By creating a digital social studies curriculum, documents could be come not only interactive and multi-media, but truly living documents that can change as the world evolves.

The Techie

Andy next steps up to discuss eBook platforms and using the iBooks Author (Mac Only) to create digital content for the iPad.  If you would like to see their content guide, you may do so here. You can also check out the demon video below:

If you cannot use iBooks Author (as it is a Mac only platform), they list several alternative resources in their resource guide. The nice thing about eBooks is that you can customize them however you would like to fit the needs of your classroom and curriculum.

iBooks Author, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

iBooks Author, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Andy provides a brief overview of building an iBook for your class using images, content, widgets, hyperlinks, etc. There are lots of great tools in iBooks Author. However, it is important to note that iBooks author works only for the Mac and can only be accessed in an iOS platform.

The nice thing about creating interactive eBooks for your students is that the curriculum is individualized, flexible, and you can even check in with students during the process for understanding by including various quizzes/activities.

By combining iBooks with existing Apps, you can expand yoru curriculum further. For example, you can use use the iPad Karnak Temple App or have students write their names in Hieroglyphics using the Hieroglyphic App ($0.99)

The Luddite

The next up is Tim, who wants to highlight how this curriculum is working out in the classroom, what did the students think, and what did the faculty think? There are numerous advantageous: all in one integration; auditory, visual, & tactile environment; no antiquated textbooks (instant updates as needed); constant app development that can be adapted (even by the students themselves; digital communication internationally; everything is in one place (no more losing those packets); notes easily saved/transferable (especially for students with fine motor issues or learning differences), Reflector App and SmartBoard allow for ease in lessons; additionally, student feedback (formally & informally) has helped to guide the process.

The students had many pros for their experiences – it was more fun to learn, more interactive, included multiple media, content was all in one place (not having to pull out a computer to go online), and no more paper-cuts! The students liked not having to find books in their desks – especially if those desks were messy!

At the same time, students had some critiques – they can cause distraction, a “real book” allows you to visualize your progress, loses the tactile sensation of “real books,” and that iPads are prone to glitches and problems (you can’t “brick” a book!).

Andy highlights that it’s important to assess the “feel” of the learning experience. Digital learning can remove that “personal” touch of a teacher and classmates – key to effective learning. It’s important to know that it’s important to turn technology once in a while. Multi-tasking does not allow the focus of uni-tasking. As such, it’s important to keep this in mind in a digital curriculum. Another key focus is “are we creating a culture of immediacy without depth or discovery.”

Take-Aways

Learn to teach the device to yourself and your students. Take the device on your own and play with it for a while before focusing on developing the pedagogy. You must teach children directly how to use it as an educational device. Make time for yourself and the students to play. Follow the lead from the students as often as possible (they might teach you a thing or two!). Also, the build matters – it’s easy to focus on the bells and whistles and distract your learners.

The Language Classroom 2.0: How Making a Self-Made iBook Has Transformed Language Instruction (7-12)

The next session I’m attending is: “The Language Classroom 2.0: How Making a Self-Made iBook Has Transformed Language Instruction (7-12)” with Violet Richard and Anderson Auza from Noble and Greenough School. You can see a copy of their presentation slides here.

The agenda states that they will cover three main topics: Video, iBook, Apps & Websites. Noble & Greenough is currently piloting iPads in the 7th, 8th, and 9th grade (1:1) as well as some shared carts. There are also some iPads for specific classes (like the language class).

Anderson shows us a lovely video of Violet and her students reflecting on using the iPads in their Spanish Classroom.  Violet states that incorporating iPads has helped her to create the text that she wants (not one that is based on the textbook) and allows greater organization. Her students highlight a well organized, condensed piece that allows them to take notes directly on the iPad allows them to more effectively study and learn.

Textbook

Textbook

What Violet determined from her experience were that the iPad allowed for:

  • multi-dimensional capabilities
  • custom-designed
  • personal interest – songs, cultural aspects, etc.
  • mobile & lightweight
  • efficient & condensed
  • interactive & engaging
  • It can be edited in real time
  • It can be financially sustainable

For language teaching, the most effective tools on the iPad is the camera, the photo roll, and the apps! By using these tools you can create a multimedia, finished device.

Violet now shows us the iBook she created for her Spanish II Honors  class. The book includes video, images, as well as text. Students can progress through at their own pace. Students do not need to switch between multiple tools/devices, it’s all in their iPad. By incorporating Quizlet into the book students can study their word lists. Violet highlights the fact that the iBook option allows them to focus on developing oral proficiency in their language learning environments; you certainly can’t do that with a traditional book! Anderson highlights that the mobile nature of the iPad helps to foster the necessary spontaneity of language proficiency.

When putting together your Book, be sure to contact publishers to ensure you can use the image in your book (Fair Usage is a little problematic). You can also build your own content using tools like GoAnimate, as well as film and video that you take (from field trips, your own travels, etc) to build your book. This allows for even greater flexibility in building content.

Creating an iBook

iBook Author

iBook Author

The primary means of building an iBook is via the application, iBook Author. While the software is free, it’s important to know that it only works on Apple computers.

Building an iBook does require that you hone a new set of skills because now you’re the author, curator, editor, designer, and publisher. Before you start, she suggests that you outline:

  • Decide on chapters/themes
  • Generate/collect activities
  • Take photos
  • Find images & consider copyright
  • Record audio/video & format them
  • Organize a storyboard/outline
  • Create customized activities
  • Build screencasts
  • Find YouTube & other online links
  • Familiarize yourself with iBook author (here’s a great tutorial)

Apps & Websites

There are many apps that you can use in your classroom, so Violet & Anderson highlight a few apps that focus on creation and flexibility, rather than simply content based tools.

Notability for grading

Notability for grading

Reading & Writing

Notability ($2.99) and Goodnotes ($4.99)

These tools allow Violet to quickly grade their content using her own, hand written notes! These tools can integrate with Google Drive.

Video & Audio

Camera (free, included) and YouTubeCapture (free)

These allow students to quickly record and share content via a link, not uploading large files to Drive (which can be time consuming).

Reading

Safari (free, included) and iBooks (free)

The digital textbook is shared via iBook and the Safari browser allows them to access foreign language content throughout the world.

Listening

iTunes U (free) and Podcast (free)

With these tools students can access content from various educational institutions and experts for free, right on their iPad!

Explain Everything

Explain Everything

Multimedia Creation

Explain Everything ($2.99), Book Creator ($4.99), and Educreations (free)

These tools allow you to create and edit content as well as opportunities for the students to demonstrate their own learning in multiple formats.

Sharing Information

Google Drive (free)

Sharing content created on iPads is key. One of the best ways to do this is with cloud computing options. Google Drive is popular because of its connection to Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

Communication

Skype (free) and Facetime (free, included)

Using these tools students can engage with people in other countries, practicing their language skills, or communicate with one another.

There are several other tools and apps that they highlight in their talk, which you can view here.

Digitized Rare Books & Special Collections from the Library of Congress

An illustration of the heliocentric solar system model put forward by Copernicus.  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

An illustration of the heliocentric solar system model put forward by Copernicus.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Library of Congress has published selections of its Rare Books & Special Collections for public access. This is a great resource for educators looking for primary source materials or researchers wanting access to content. The digitized selections include letters, images, and other important documents that are housed by the special collections division of the Library of Congress.

For example, see the “Account of Louisiana” put forward to Congress by President Thomas Jefferson, the early drafts of the American ConstitutionDe revolutionibus orbium caelestium by Copernicus, and more. The collection is free and available to the public.