Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Online Science Book for Second Grade

Chapter 2 from the Second Grade Online Science Book

One of the difficulties of having young students do online research is in finding websites written at the appropriate reading level. Last year, the Second Grade teachers and the instructional technologist tried a WebQuest for the Second Grade science unit on germs and healthy habits. Most of the sites we found were written for a much older audience. This year we decided to pull information from websites and books to write our own digital book to replace the WebQuest. One important consideration was to match text with helpful images and video to further the second graders' understanding.

We looked at the possibility of creating an Apple iBook. We could write the book using iBooks Author to then download it to a class set of iPads. We would need to download any video found on the Internet to then insert it into the iBook. One difficulty was in finding videos that were shared under Creative Commons agreements. A second consideration was that it could not be in Adobe Flash which isn't supported on the iPad. A final deal breaker for the iPads was that the students should be able to access the book from home to reread the text and review the videos. Learning about viruses, bacteria and fungi is not easy. It would be important for the students to repeatedly access the book. 

An important aspect of having technology literacy is being able to choose the right tool for the task. In this case, it became clear that publishing on the Internet would be the way to go. Flash-based videos could be embedded or linked into the pages of the book/website. Students could access the digital book from school and home. The book could be updated on the fly as the students provide feedback and as new resources are discovered. 

While the web-based book fulfilled these criteria, it does not offer students the opportunity to personalize the text and media. Being able to underline, highlight and take notes into the book as one can do in an iBook are not part of using a website as a book unless one uses browser add ons. In time, we will look to have the students use the Mindmeister web-based mind mapping tool to record their questions and understanding for easy access whether they are reading the book at school or at home. 

If you missed the link to the online book at the start of this post, here is another link to get you there. 

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