Digital Sandbox

This Blog is designed to provide the reader with information on how to adopt technology into the classroom by relooking at traditional classroom tools and transitioning into new ways of teaching and learning. The Digital Sandbox explores the future of learning through the recreation of 21st Century learning environments.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Flipping Your Classroom with Flip Books

Learn how you can join the ePub generation by creating a text featured multimedia integrated mobile learning environment. In this presentation by Mike King, participants will learn different technology integration tools, like Google Docs, dropbox, Calibre, and Creative Book Builder to convert and store interactive curriculum materials for student learning. These new converted resources can be easily distributed over a network through scanning QR codes on mobile learning devices such as iPod, iPads, cell phones and tablets. The presentation will introduce the pedagogy associated with flipped classrooms while providing the tools necessary to create and store dynamic digitally formatted lessons.  Part two of the workshop will provide illustrated information on how to embed within the text of a digital book, recordings, movies and illustrations to publish in iBooks or other mobile reading devices.  (Download a Free Sample eBook on "How to Create an eBook")

KGCT Convention
·         Location: Where: The Marriott in Overland Park Kansas
·         Presentation Date: Tuesday October 4, 2011
·         Presentation Time: 9:55 AM
·         Conference Web Link

How to Create an eBook

Over the past two months (July - September of 2011) I have been working diligently to find ways to publish e-Books for iPads. I had had two reasons in mind. The first was to support language developing students who attend my school. As a principal, over 75% of the students who attend the school where I work are Hispanic. I wanted to find a way to support language development through technology and have been inspired by the capabilities of mobile devices. What I needed was a way to help ELL (English Language Learner) students hear text while it was being read. This gave me an idea of exploring the possibilities for developing media rich interactive books. e-Books that talk and could be easily constructed by teachers. I was also after simplicity. The second reason for exploring the idea of eBooks for mobile devices was given to me as an intrinsic challenge to share.

I was attending a technology conference in July of 2011 when a colleague of mine, asked me to join him in a conversation about a new universal publishing format called e-Pub. During the conversation I explored many question as to the enquiry of what e-Pub was? Was it a program, or a format? The conversation lead to the idea that the ePub format may be useful for teachers when introducing content into a mobile learning environment. The objective was then established, the process for creating the eBooks must be simple, cost effective, should include embedded media and it would be easy to learn.

Returning home from the conference, I began to do extensive research on the e-Pub idea. Goggled, tweeted, e-mailed, called an apple representative,  inquired about it at the district level and monitored my hash tags on TweetDeck for incoming dialogs. I even began posting articles on my blog, waiting for comments, which got me nowhere. Then one day it happened, It was the one tweet I was looking for, information on a new iApp being released in beta form that could create an interactive flip book, one with embedded media. Up to that time I had just hit dead ends, for most of the software applications were too complicated, too rich for my pocket book or just too plain of an end product.

I quickly scanned the product features on  the iApp, entered my pass code and agreed to the purchase of $3.99. Within two minutes I was off to explore and test every feasible element of Creative Book Builder.    After a few weeks of trial and error, especially with ways to use iTunes to embed media I have been successful in rolling out "publishing" several eBooks. Each eBook was a little better than the other since I am working on the publishing design side. Yes, that is correct, I became a publisher.

In my first eBook "The Art and Science of Teaching" I included two demonstration videos and some hyperlinks. The second eBook "The ePub Generation; The Alexandrian Libraries of the Future" included audio recordings, podcast and video. My third eBook I explored the idea of digital storytelling as a form of a podcast, a read along e book for children entitled, "The Princess and the Crystal Mountain." In the read along book, I created narrated sound bites in audacity, transferred them into iTunes and exported the narrations within the text of the book. Spacing the text within the sound bite narrations takes some planning, as to the architecture of the layout.

Just over the last two days I have published one book on LuLu which is free and have uploaded all three of them to my wiki page, Tech N TuIt. What I have discovered, the more media you embed, the larger the size of e-pub file, something I will be working on, as I further research ideas on compressing files. If you are interested in exploring any of these titles you can select any of the following resource links. Here are some tips or what I call "Tricks or Tweaking" in Creative Book Builder. (Download a Free Sample eBook on "How to Create an eBook")

When Using Media
·         Use YouTube downloader
·         Convert to medium low quality iPhone format
·         Compress mp3 files to medium quality
·         To create illustrations use PowerPoint and convert to gif file

What I Have Learned
·         Use hyperlinks before using sound or video files
·         Make books small for short reads and lesson assignments
·         Plan your content in advance And in small chunks
·         Preview your book often in the production stages
·         Email gif files and use save to photo feature in your iPad
·         You can use the edit feature to create a PowerPoint slide show on your iPad

·         The Digitalsandbox Blogspot
·         My Free e-Books at Tech N Tuit
·         The ePub Generation

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"The ePub Generation; The Alexandrian Libraries of the Future"

eBook Overview
The primary focus for educators should be on expanding the quantity and quality of ways in which the learner is exposed to content and context.  Educators should design extended learning opportunities in ways that immerse students in content by using various existing technology tools that include wiki’s, blogs, and multi-media interactive eBooks. The premise of  expanding educational delivery in ways to include Web 2.0 opportunities is  constructed around the idea that the more children can experience what they are learning and the more teachers immerse students in the learning process the more engaged students will become in interacting, listening, viewing and valuing their education.

In this interactive eBook you will find video , audio and illustrated text, edited directly from my iPad. The first chapter is fittingly named "The ePub Generation," since it was my first self published book using the ePub format, a term I learned from Kevin Honeycutt in July of 2011. Since that time I have been putting forth hours of additional time in research and development to create my first ePub publication, all for the cost of one App at $3.99. I would encourage  you to download the eBook and read it from iBook; just to get a feel for what might be the next generation of textbooks, created by teachers for students or even better created by students for students.

The eBook includes, twelve pages of text, five illustrations, one podcast, one audio recording, and two videos. Turn the pages , play the media files, enjoy the visuals, and read text. It truly is an interactive book which took one hour to create.

To download the free e-book for your mobile device go to  Tech N TuIT free eBook wiki page and select the download tab.

To find out more you can visit "ePub Generation"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Language Objectives

Language Objectives are the HOW of the lesson and articulates what students will be doing within the lesson in terms of reading, writing, listening, speaking and thinking. Like content objectives, language objectives should be stated clearly and simply in student friendly language.  Students should be informed of them in both writing and orally.  When developing a language objective for a lesson, the teacher should ask the question, "What are my students doing today to develop their language skills?" For example, a language objective could include interaction in the form of discussion (paired and/or cooperative learning activities).

According to Echevarria, Vogt and Short, "A wide variety of language objectives can be planned according to the goals and activities in the lesson. In some cases, language objectives may focus on developing students' vocabulary. Other lessons may lend themselves to reading comprehension skills practice or the writing process, helping students to brainstorm, outline, draft, revise, edit, and complete a text." Language objectives often accompany a content objective when teaching content areas such as math, science or social studies. An example of how a  content objectives and language objectives can be integrated within a lesson are shown below;

Content Objective:
The students will be able to use constructions to explore attributes of geometric figures and to make conjectures about geometric relationships.

Language Objectives:
The student will be able to use mathematical vocabulary to explain orally or in writing the attributes of geometric figures.

Content Objective: 
Students will compare and contrast the physical adaptations that whales and sharks have that aid in their survival.

Language Objective:
Students will write a compare and contrast paragraph, using vocabulary associated with the language function of compare and contrast after completing a Venn Diagram with a partner.

Vocabulary Objectives
Language objectives can also emphasize the vocabulary necessary for students to master the content objective. It is important for the teacher to recognize when important vocabulary words will be introduced into the lesson. In this case the vocabulary is extracted directly from the content objective; however, there may be some tier two vocabulary or background vocabulary that must also be addressed for the ELL student. Without the understanding of vocabulary the lesson itself may become fragmented within the learners mind and the loss of focus will distract the learner from making conceptual ties. Enhancing the students focus is an important attribute to teaching and the teacher should eliminate any distracters like lack of vocabulary development within the lesson. An example of how a  vocabulary objectives can be written for a math class are shown below;

Vocabulary Objective:
Students will use a specific list of mathematical vocabulary to describe the attributes of specific geometric figures.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Designing Highly Engaging Digital Lessons

Designing highly engaging digital lessons can be the catalyst for enhancing a school’s vision for the future,  strengthening its learning goals, and helping it to realize its mission. To be deemed successful, digital lesson design itself must weigh the relationship between technology investments and student growth. Technology integration  requires that teachers be willing to make substantial investments in time, resources, and support. Incorporating technology into the classroom effectively, teachers must use those strategies that are directly aligned to practices that engage students in higher levels of direct learning and the development of critical thinking skills.

Viewing technology lesson design as a process instead of an event requires two paradigm shifts in thinking and development. The first paradigm shift occurs when the stakeholders of the district realize the design process will result in more than simply purchasing technology. Ten years ago, technology investment focused primarily on acquiring computers and was simply a process of deciding what type of computers to purchase, how many, and where to place them. Today, new technology opportunities require technology designers to rethink the plausibility of technology in the classroom. The design process must address how technology will be used by students and staff, not just what equipment it will involve.

The second paradigm shift occurs when the technology design process integrates the technology into the curriculum. This paradigm shift allows the designing process to have an impact on student learning. For the technology planning efforts to have maximum effect on student learning, the process must be coupled with curriculum development and instructional lesson design. Since the goal of technology design should be improved student learning, this process begets questions that only classroom teachers can answer. Therefore, a collaborative effort between technology professionals and teachers will produce the most comprehensive and successful technology integration plan. Without this investment of time and effort, designing for technology will have little or no impact on school improvement.

Finally, the key to increasing student performance begins by providing formal teacher training. Through professional development, teachers will better understand the design for technology integration and realize ways to apply the essential strategies to instruction. When teachers understand the criteria by which technology integration will occur, the approach to the school improvement process in regards to web 2.0 literacy learning will become more effective. 

If you are interested in this topic join us at the Digital Sandbox