I decided to have a trial and error lesson today with my year 7 French using the Book Creator app for the iPad. They were asked to try the app out by creating a simple picture book in French that primary school pupils could read. I shared with them that I was trialling apps to use across the school and would be sharing what we discovered on my blog. I asked them to let me know when they encountered a problem, and how they solved it.
Throughout the lesson I found they were fully engaged with the activity (the pull of the iPad is great) and were being creative with language as well as the technology at their disposal. One group even used the perfect/imperfect tenses despite having not ‘learnt’ them yet. A pupil that could not figure out how to import pictures was waiting for me to help but a peer (who had already worked it out) took them off to show them how to do it. This has been the overwhelming experience of using iPads in the classroom so far – the pupils are keen to share and support each other. They are learning both independently and together. I am surprised on a daily basis by the clever little things I come across on my iPad and within apps (the red laser pointer on Keynote for example) and my enthusiasm is obviously infectious. I must say I have an increasing gaggle of kids hovering around my classroom at break and lunchtime wanting to come and ‘play’.
Book Creator is a delightful app to work with. It is simple, versatile and we loved being able to export books to our iBook shelves, then read them on the screen (I have a cable to link my ipad to my projector). Whilst the books we created can be synced across the class set of pads via the itunes library, I will soon be setting up a departmental Dropbox account as a way for staff and pupils to share work. We may even publish our books… Watch this space.
On a linguistic front using Book Creator gave us an opportunity to explore a number of areas. We discussed the fallibility of Goggle translate. Why must language teachers always have that conversation with pupils?
We learnt how to install an international keyboard on the iPad and discovered it does not work with Book Creator (I have tweeted Red Jumper Dan to see if this can be sorted). To install another keyboard you follow the route:
Settings > General > Keyboard > International > Add new keyboard
Once you have selected which keyboard you want to add a globe icon appears to the left of the space bar on the keyboard. By tapping this you can toggle between keyboards. I personally use English, French, Spanish and Japanese (the latter I use badly I hasten to add). The pupils were fascinated that letters were in different places on the keyboard and this allowed us to discuss why.
To insert accents I demonstrated on the board how you hold a letter down on the keyboard and run your finger over the accented letter you need to select it, then release, as shown in the screenshot below. Screenshot on the iPad is easy by the way – you hold the power key down then press the iPad button. You will see the screen flash white and hear the camera noise.
Book Creator has applications across the whole curriculum. It would be great to support literacy in primary schools. In secondary, where I am, I can see Languages, English, History using this app at the very least. It was well worth the £4.99 price tag.