Creating Digital Books to Help Others: 20+ Apps, Tools & Ideas

Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar with a new idea each day!

During one of my teaching internships, my mentor had us create books we read to children from the Boys and Girls Club. I still have my construction paper book with my poor drawings. My artistic abilities didn’t matter to the kids who were just excited to have someone spend time with them. Our learners have the power to greatly impact others with their creations. This holiday season we can get them to create digital books that help others. Fortunately, several free web tools and apps help students quickly and easily create and publish digital books. Keep scrolling to access my bookmarks of free web tools and apps for creating digital books on any device. I’ve included some ideas below and a slide presentation with tips and resources to get students creating digital books that help those around them while learning. If you enjoy these ideas, you may want to join the free 5 week session, eTextbook Teachers, where over 500 teachers support each other in creating digital textbooks.

Cookbooks

Students can learn math, science and literature while helping feed others by creating cookbooks. I recommend using BookCreator, Issuu, Slipp.It, or Google Docs. Enhance the cookbooks by getting students to include short how to videos, images, or audio clips of interviews explaining the science, history, traditions or origins of the recipe.

  • Our family recipes and traditions cookbook- create a class cookbook in which students share a traditional recipe and include information about the traditions and origins of the dish. Students can interview family members to discover the history behind the dish and the traditions surrounding it.
  • Special diet cookbook-  students can work in pairs to create cookbooks for those with different allergies who require special diets or for vegans and vegetarians.
  • Science experiments you can eat- students can learn the science behind making homemade ice cream, taffy, or fizzy potions. Check out these bookmarks for ideas.

More Book Ideas

You can choose to publish these books and offer them to the public for free or ask for donations to support a charity or get something important for your class or school.

  • Digital scrapbook- students can take their paper scrapbooks and transform them into digital scrapbooks so that they preserve these family memories for life.
  • Nature book- students work with the local park or campsites to document the plants, animal life, bugs, birds, and other species that visitors will be able to see. Students add important resources and information like maps, diagrams, images, important facts, and more. Many local parks have these documented on paper and could benefit from having a digital book that encourages people to spend time outdoors visiting the park.
  • Books to help local museums or charities
  • Goal journals- students can work in pairs or small groups to create journals for specific goals like a runner’s journal or study journal. They leave entries for each day of the year for people to record their progress and reflect. Each entry can include songs, quotes, anecdotes, famous people, interviews, Ted Talks, and other motivational resources.
  • Learning books for younger relatives or for a class of young learners- your students can create books that teach children the alphabet, animals, to be better citizens, or are full of jokes related to science, math, history, or grammar. Students can visit the class and read them their digital books.
  • A book starring their younger siblings as superheroes or having an adventure.

Challenge:
Get your students to create a digital book that helps someone in a meaningful way.

If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics. Subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

Book Creation Web Tools & Apps

Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar! Scroll the image below and each day discover free web tools, apps, and resources.

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Pump Students Up with Digital Icebreakers

Play Plato

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” by Plato

Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar with a new idea each day!

Throughout my teaching years, I’ve struggled with getting my students or trainees to readily participate. Learners are shy about exposing themselves to peers, especially if they do not know them well. Icebreakers can help alleviate our learners’ hesitation, because they relax the atmosphere, allow learners to share without the pressure of being graded, and help our learners get to know each other. In the slide presentation below I share some digital icebreakers I have used with learners of various ages. Find more in the bookmarks that follow the presentation. Find some of these icebreakers and other digital activities in my ebook, Learning to Go, which is currently $5.99. Learning to Go also contains editable handouts and rubrics that are mobile-friendly.

Icebreakers

Here are a few of the ideas I talked about during my presentation:

  • Mobile Show and Tell- Divide students into small groups (3 to 5 students). Each student spends about 30 seconds sharing a personal photo from a mobile device and the anecdote behind the photo.
  • Recreate a Photo- Students choose one of the Mobile Show and Tell images to recreate as a group. They share the original then the newly created photo.
  • Selfie Adventures- Pair students or divide them into small groups. Show them the Animal Selfies Tumblr or the Selfie Animal Tips video. They choose a favorite and write down reasons they liked this selfie. Then give each pair a stuffed animal, doll, character, or sock puppet. They will have to create 2 or more awesome selfies of this character.
  • Draw and Dash- Each student will need to use a piece of paper or a drawing app like Tackk, Educreations, Magic Paintbrush, or Sketchbook Express. Name a category like favorite dessert, cartoon, sports team and so forth for students to draw the answers to on their tablets. Give them 30 seconds. When the time is up they should lift up their drawings and run to a peer they believe drew a similar choice. Give them 1 minute to talk about their drawings and exchange one fact or experience related to the choice. Find the Knowledge Swap handout that accompanies this activity in Learning to Go.
  • Mobile Me Pictionary- Give each student 3 notecards. Students write on one side a category like a talent, hobby, dream job, or favorite place. On the other side they write down an answer but show no one. Divide students into small groups. Each group will need to use a drawing app like Tackk, Educreations, Magic Paintbrush, or Sketchbook Express. Students stack all the cards with the categories facing up. When you start the timer, one student chooses a card and draws the word(s) on the app. The group tries to guess the answer and who it describes before the time runs out.
  • Avatar Bucket Lists- Students write down 3 activities they want to complete within their lifetime. They get into pairs and discuss their lists. They choose one bucket list activity to animate in a short video or comic strip. Useful web tools include GoAnimate, Powtoons, Little Bird Tales, ToonDoo, and Makebeliefs Comix. Useful apps include BuddyPoke 3D Avatar Creator, Tellagami, Drawing Cartoons, Comics Head, and Friendstrip. Find more activities and ideas in this lesson plan I wrote, A Visual Bucket List.
  • Goal Collages/Vision Boards- Students can use digital poster and scrapbook tools and apps to create goal collages and vision boards. In the poster they include learning goals, personal goals, inspiring images, motivational quotes, and sayings to support them in achieving their goals. Try any of these tools: Buncee, Tackk, Biteslides, Smore, ThingLink, or Pic-Collage.
  • 3, 2,1 Introduction- Students use a web tool or app to create a video, comic strip, poster, book, or slideshow that includes the following: 3 things we should know about you, 2 hobbies, 1 dream job. This idea came from Nicky Hockly.
  • Avatar Introductions- Students can introduce themselves with a Voki avatar or try one of these free avatar creators! Find several student examples here.
  • Name Poems- Use a word cloud tool like Tagxedo or the Image Chef app. They can also do this as a digital poster using tools like Buncee, Tackk, Biteslides, Smore, ThingLink, or Pic-Collage.
  • My Timeline- Students create multimedia timelines highlighting significant moments using a tool like Capzles or Popplet which both have free apps for i-devices.
  • Icebreaker Mingle- Find my lesson plan that uses the Icebreaker question app here.
  • If you have icebreaker handouts like Human Bingo, use Nearpod (accessible on any device) to get students to fill them out digitally. Download my Human Bingo handout here.

Challenge:

Try any of these icebreakers with your students to motivate them to share throughout the year.

If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics. Subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

More Resources

Find many more ideas, apps, and tools in my Pearltree bookmarks. Click the box to enlarge that resource.
Included in the Digital Ideas Advent Calendar! Scroll the image below and each day discover free web tools, apps, and resources.

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15+ Resources to Inspire Writing with Digital Prompts

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 8.53.48 AM
Included in the Digital Tips Advent Calendar and part of the Effective Technology Integration category

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~ Vladimir Nabakov

One of my favorite activities with my students was having them keep daily journals. Each day, they knew the routine. Grab their journals, grab a pillow, sit where they want and spend 5 minutes responding to the prompt on the board. Nowadays, technology provides us more engaging ways to encourage writing. Students can journal online with blogs or use mobile technologies to capture images, record videos, and post podcasts. They can make their voices more engaging, spread their ideas, and  receive comments from around the world. Below are a few ideas and resources.

  • Vary the types of writing students do! They can create comics, digital stories, dialogues, emails, etc.
  •  Corn Dog Art features many video and writing prompts.
  •  John Spencer’s Photoprompts Tumblr has tons of writing prompts accompanied by images. They spark imagination and encourage various types of writing.
  • Luke Neff’s Image Writing Prompts are aligned with the common core and have incredible visuals.
  • Make Beliefs Comix has over 350 free printables for teachers. These can easily be shown on a projector and used as writing prompts. They are sorted by topic, event, and holidays. Students can create their own comic with this tool in multiple languages.
  • Create a digital calendar similar to this one with a writing prompt a day. Here’s a post on how to create a digital calendar.
  • Have students create their own writing prompts and integrate a few throughout the year. You could have them add their prompts to the digital calendar, which frees up your time! Assign each student a day to be in charge of creating a visual prompt. You can give them a rubric or checklist to follow.
  • If your students blog, then they could exchange their writing prompts with their peers and each respond. It’s a writing prompt exchange. Each could embed the prompt on their blogs.
  • Students like memes. They respond to them on social networks like Facebook. Use memes as writing prompts. I provide resources and instructions in this presentation, Let’s Go Viral!.
  • Write About This- a free IOS app with prompts to inspire writing and students can create their own.
  • Journal Jar- free web and phone app that when shaken comes up with a question to write about.
  • PicLits- choose an image and your students drag and drop words onto the image to create a story.
  • Scholastic Story Starters- this is an interactive website where students write their names and fill out questions.
  • Plinky- a question appears and below the question students write their opinion.
  • StoryIt- print out a picture that has the first paragraph of a story.
  • Boggles World Creative Writing- several creative writing prompts to print that were especially designed for English language learners.
  • Five Card Flickr- 5 random pictures from Flickr are posted and students can write a story in the space provided or view several other pictures.
  • One Word- This excellent website posts one word and your students have 60 seconds to write on the website whatever comes to mind.
  • Writing Fix- hundreds of journal writing prompts, writing games, and more.
  • Lightning Bug- find a story idea or develop one.
  • 100 Word Story- an image is posted and you can submit a story that is only 100 words. This site doesn’t filter so you can use your own images and have the students create the stories in class.
  • The Storyteller Blog is full of writing prompts. Some are geared for older students. Here’s a monthly  calendar with various prompts.
  • Several visual prompts on the Teaching Ideas site.
  • Tell About This- Free iPad app for students to respond through their voice to picture prompts.

 Challenge:

Try one of these resources for writing prompts.

31 Days of Digital Tech Integration Tips

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Motivated to Write: 30+ Resources

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 8.53.48 AMFrom the Cool Sites Series

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~ Vladimir Nabakov

This week I am in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia, presenting at the GAETC conference. It is one of the most organized and interesting conferences I’ve been to and they’ve had some incredible presenters/keynotes, such as Chris Lehmann, Tony Vincent, Jerry Blumengarten, Nikki Roberts, Jamie Vanderbilt, Amanda Dykes, Kristy Vincent, etc. I’ve seen sessions from flipping the classroom to mobile learning to media literacy. Not to mention the teachers and people I’ve met in Georgia have been super nice. Each day, I am greeted 100 times by the people here. This has happened since I walked off the plane.

I had six sessions which you can read about here, Teacherrebootcamp.com/tag/gaetc13.  Here are the resources for the Motivated to Write session in case you missed it or in case you are just interested. At GAETC, I tried collaborative note-taking with the 400 audience. We all took notes on 1 Google Doc. Scary, I know! However, it ended up being a great experience and many helped create notes and stories. Check out the document here, http://bit.ly/gaetc1234. Thank you to @MeetMrsHussain, Beth Jackson, Judy Bausch, Katika,Tonisha, Edroce,  Ty, Amber, Greg Clark, Robin (@rdaugherty73), Amanda Coody, Gwen Thibadeau (@gwen.thibadeau), River Eves (@rwhite3787), Ann Alvarez (@alvie2304), Cody, Heidi Holcomb (@hjholc), and others who helped with the collaborative note-taking experience.

Slides

Download these slides!

My Favorite Resources

  • Make Beliefs Comix- Two, three and four panel comics that you can create in multiple languages. 350+ free printables for teachers
  • Rreadwritethink.org- 100+ free interactives and quality lesson plans integrating technology and literacy.
  • Kerpoof- create videos, comics, and more with this free tool
  • Buncee- free iPod/iPad app that creates interactive posters and comics with a library of stickers, backgrounds, audio, images, and video. Super easy to use and embeds.
  • Favorite writing prompt sites aligned with the common core are John Spencer’s Photoprompts and Luke Neff’s Image Writing Prompts.
  • Comics Head- IOS and Android app to make comics. Best one in my opinion that allows adding your own images along with their library of characters, backdrops, and more.
  • The Digital Storytelling Course Wiki - I helped organize and run this open online 5 week session for the last 2 years. You can check out the resources curated by over 500 teachers worldwide. We cover creative common music and images, comics, video, storybooks, and more!
  • Kathy Schrock’s Rubrics
  • My Digital Storytelling Symbaloos- Find a free tool or app for any digital storytelling project.
  • All the storyboarding worksheets can be found here,  http://stopmotionmovies.yolasite.com/

More Fantastic Resources

Find all my bookmarks in this Pearl Tree, http://pear.ly/bKdKD! It’s a free mindmap of links. You click a pearl and it’ll expand into the resource. Works on mobile devices.

Challenge:

Use one of these resources or ideas and share with me how the experience went with your learners.

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Inspiring Writing in English Language Teaching / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

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15+ Apps & Activities for Valentine’s Day

Part of the Mobile Learning series!

Valentine’s day is when we show our friends, family, and the people important in our lives how much we care about them. This holiday is a great time for teachers to help inspire their learners to show those they care about how much they mean to them. We should always take the time in classrooms to teach what it takes to be a good human being among the other skills we teach. Below are a few mobile apps that will get your learners excited about spreading kindness as well as supporting their creativity. Check out my recent webinar recording filled with more activities, webtools, and resources for celebrating Valentine’s day or this guest post, 14+ Activities and Resources for Celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Apps

  • Kid’s Fingerpainting Valentine’s Day App (I-friendly)- Kids can choose to color 15 pages or create their own Valentine painting. They can choose frames, up to 15 effects, and personalize their masterpieces with messages. Activity ideas- Use this app to send greetings to family members who love when kids draw and paint.
  • Cooper’s Big Bear Hug- Interactive story with audio and interactive. When read aloud by the student, Cooper the bear will react to the voice. Activity ideas- Students can create their own digital stories featuring their favorite stuffed animals with digital storytelling tools like Storybird, Little Bird Tales, or ZooBurst
  • Mark and Mandi’s Love Story (I-friendly)- Help Cupid in 4 games walk through the relationship of Mark and Mandi. Activity ideas- have students create a digital story filling in the details of Mark and Mandi’s romance after they play the various games
  • Animoto  (Android/I-friendly)- Upload up to 10 images, choose a soundtrack from the library (many nice romantic tunes to choose from, and click a button to make a 30-second video. Sync your videos with your Animoto.com account, download videos for offline viewing, and make longer ones with an All-Access Pass. Sign up for an educator account to create longer videos for free. Activity ideas- Use this app to get students to create a video capturing a favorite family event; students can create videos of pets; they can get into groups and send the greeting to different classes in their school, grade level, or younger classes; older students can create a video showcasing a great place to take a date or highlighting a favorite restaurant
  • Fotobabble- Quickly create and easily share talking photos in 3 steps (Snap or select or a photo, speak into the microphone to record audio, share with friends via email, Facebook or Twitter). You do get various holiday themed backgrounds. Activity ideas- Students can create short poems and add a picture to go with it, they can recite their favorite love poem or quote and include a picture that represents it, or they can talk about the best Valentine’s day greeting they received and post an image of this
  • M.A.S.H Valentine (I-friendly, Android version)- Preteens to adults will love this app that has them fill in their crushes, select 4 places to go on a date, etc. This app is great for getting students to write and puts it in a classic game they will enjoy playing. Activity ideas- Extend writing by getting students to create a story to go along with what the app predicts
  • Tom Loves Angela App All Devices (I-friendly, Android free version)- Students speak in this app to send messages to Tom the cat’s girlfriend Angela. The app also let’s them chat and Angela responds back. Tom also gives Angela gifts and she can respond in various ways. Activity ideas- Students can create a digital story of Tom sharing love idioms, quotes, pick-up lines, poetry or songs. They can create their own short love poems or “Roses or red…” poems and have Tom recite them to Angela.
  • Tom’s Love Letters (I-friendly, Android free version)- Send free postcards featuring Tom & Angela with various animations. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • Angela’s Valentine (I-friendly, Android version)- Send free postcards featuring Tom & Angela with various animations. Check out 2 music videos and games. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • Restaurant Story: Valentine’s Day (I-friendly)- Students design a restaurant including the menu. Activity ideas- Extend writing by getting students to create a story about the perfect date, teach restaurant vocabulary, pair students to create a dream restaurant, have students create a howto video of them preparing one of the recipes, or have students use the Animoto app to create a commercial for their restaurant
  • First Words Valentine (I-friendly)- great for toddlers and young children to learn phonics and vocabulary related to the holiday
  • Scrap Pad Valentine-s Day (I-friendly)- upload your photos to create a digital scrapbook with templates, background, stickers, and more. Activity ideas- students can create a memory book of adventures with friends, relatives, or a pet
  • Valentine Videogram (I-friendly)- Choose from 3 fun characters and backgrounds and create an animated video message. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • Mix Me Valentine’s (I-friendly)- upload your face and it will be placed in various greeting templates. You can record sounds as well. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • Cupid Booth Valentine-s Day (I-friendly)- upload your photos and decorate with speech bubbles, stickers, personalized messages, and more. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • RedStamp (I-friendly)- send free e-greeting cards with various free Valentine’s day templates and upload your photos. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • Holiday Cards by Sincerely (Android/I-friendly)- send free e-greeting cards with various free Valentine’s day templates and the ability to personalize Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • A Card for That (Android)-send free e-greeting cards with various free Valentine’s day templates and the ability to personalize Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives

More Valentine’s Day Resources

Check out over 50 of my bookmarks on PearlTrees.

Vday Resources in English Language Teaching / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

Check out all the apps in my PearlTree.

VDay Apps in Vday Resources / English Language Teaching / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

Challenge:

Try these apps with your students and blog about any exciting ways you use them!

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What are your favorite ways to use graphic organizers?

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