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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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5 Reasons to Try iBooks Author

There are so many ways that iPads can be used in the classroom, and one of my favorite things about these tablets is the ability to use iBooks with students. Although there are tons of great options available in the iBookstore, there is a program for MacBooks that let users create their very own interactive books for iPads. This free program gives teachers the ability to create iBooks that can be shared with students by adding them to individual devices or published to the iBookstore to share with the world.

1. Short Learning Curve

In iBooks Author, even teachers just scratching the surface of this powerful tool can create an impressive product. This program includes a range of templates allowing users to drag and drop text, images and videos on the page. As your comfort level increases, you can record audio or add music, put review questions at the end of a section, and place Keynote presentations for students to access.

2. Customize Your Students' Textbooks

By creating a textbook in iBooks Author, teachers have the option to upload their own text and pictures. You can add your own captions to images and alter a text level to meet the needs of your students. Teachers can even record their own voices reading selections for students to play back. Kids can use the built-in text features, such as tapping on a word to see the definition, to make the iBook an interactive reading experience.

3. Create Collections of Student Work

When I was teaching fifth grade, we took our students' published personal narratives and social studies projects to create iBooks that showcased their work. It included their writing and pictures of each project. We recorded each student's voice reading from his or her own writing so that, with a tap of the screen, you could hear each child speak. Then we uploaded this book to the iBookstore so that our published student authors could share their work with friends and families -- and even add it to their portfolios to show off during middle school interviews.

4. Kids Can Contribute

Two years ago I created an iBook using iBooks Author for the first time. I was pretty excited to share this "first draft" with my students, and they were really pumped to try something new. After a few days, some of them started to point out things that were missing or could be added to our class textbook. I knew this was a great opportunity for students to locate primary source documents and create captions that could be added to the book. They even wrote review questions that I added to the end of each section. Not only were they excited to see their contributions in the updated version of the book, but they were also completely invested in creating a product that could be shared with their classmates.

5. It's Cool

There are lots of ways to engage students with iBooks Author, a fantastic tool to get children excited about reading. Try adding videos or a gallery of images, or take a Keynote presentation that you would normally show students and place it on a page. iBooks Author lets you create your very own interactive texts that are sure to grab the attention of your students.

Ownership, Permission and Workarounds

If you publish your creations to the iBookstore, be mindful of the need to get permission from families when sharing student work. Here is a great blog post on using Creative Commons in K-12 Education if you are including materials created by someone else. And if your students don't have iPads, iBooks can also be read on the new Mavericks operating system available for Mac computers.

Have you tried iBooks Author? Share your triumphs, struggles and experiences below!

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