Sunday, January 5, 2014

57 Heads Are Better Than One

As I get myself organized and prepared to start a new semester tomorrow, I want to reflect on the cumulative semester exam review project that was a great success for my students.  I decided to take a risk and have them create an exam review book that each student contributed to. The parameters of the project are found at the link, Glassman Biology Book Creator Midterm Project.  I was inspired to do this project from Greg Kulowiec's workshop at the Ed Tech Teacher iPad Summit in November 2013.  

Basically, I divided up the topics of the semester into 20 sections and then put students in groups of 2 or 3, each group in charge of a specific topic. Because I have 20 shared iPads, I found it logical to have 20 sections to the book to avoid sharing conflicts.  Each group was to summarize the topics, create questions and provide answers to those questions. All groups used Book Creator to submit their work as a Google Doc to me. The other apps that were used are Explain Everything  and ThingLink.  I gave them a week to complete their work during class and submit a shared ePub with me so I could then merge all of the "mini books" into one complete book for all of my students before exam week began.   

If you decide to make a project like this, consider these suggestions for smoother work flow for you and your students. 

1) Make sure all students are saving books in the same format so they can be merged later on.  I chose the square format. I had one group not follow this formatting guideline, and they were not happy when they had to copy everything into a new book. Book Creator will not allow you to change the format once you start a project. 

2) Have a soft deadline two days before the final deadline to check accuracy and depth of content.  This was the best part of all. I found myself saying, "This is good, but you know you can make it better." My students were ok with it, and ended up turning in much better end results with the midway edit. 

3) Remind them that this project is PUBLISHED! That was the biggest carrot of all. Knowing that their names were attached to the project that could be found on the internet created a bigger sense of ownership. 

4) Make sure all submissions have first names only to protect your students.

5) Shorten longer url links (we used bitly) and include them so that anyone using the PDF version of the book can get to the links that are embedded in the ePub version. 

5) When submitted to you, be certain that students have make the title of the book in BookCreator and on Drive the number of the question and the topic. For example, the first chapter of our book is prefix/suffix review so that chapter was submitted as 1PrefixSuffix.  I had 20 books to merge, and this was a huge time saver. 

Once I finalized the twenty mini-books into one book, I shared it with my students and their parents as both an ePub and PDF.  Remember, not everyone has an iDevice at home when you have a shared iPad classroom. My final requirement for each student was to save the book to their Evernote digital portfolio. Please use the following instructions to access the version of the book that works with your computer, iPad, or internet accessible device. Here is a quick reminder in the difference in the ePub and PDF versions of the book. 

ePub files can be opened in iBooks, BookCreator, Evernote, and Dropbox. This format allows you to use the interactive links and videos right in the book.

PDF files can be opened in Drive just as you would open any PDF file. This file version is not interactive, but links have been provided to access that information on the internet.  

Please let me know if you have any questions with accessing the book! Happy New Year and may 2014 be a year of taking risks with technology in your classroom!

To learn more ways in which I am using technology in my classroom, follow me on Twitter @eglassman757.

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