Kristi Meeuwse, Kindergarten Teacher, Drayton Hall Elementary School, Charleston, South Carolina
When her local education authority handed kindergarten teacher Kristi Meeuwse a box of 30 iPad devices for her students, she called it a “game changer”. She was immediately interested in the idea of creating learning materials because there are very few non‑fiction books at kindergarten level. “There’s nothing out there, and what’s out there has to be purchased,” says Meeuwse. “And my school doesn’t have the money to purchase those books.” Yet she felt the need to incorporate informational text, since she was responsible for teaching to the US Common Core State Standards. Since she couldn’t find these types of materials, she decided to create them.
Meeuwse used the free iBooks Author app for Mac to create her first book for iPad, called My City, about the class’s hometown of Charleston. “My students loved it. And they thought it was cool I was writing it.” Meeuwse went on to create books on subjects like spiders, dirt bikes and baby animals. “My students are excited when they can tap a button and make a spider move across the page,” says Meeuwse. “Or when, as they count to ten, an image rotates and counts with them. None of the print books in our book centre have any of this.” Meeuwse also inserts comprehension widgets, so the kids can take short quizzes right there in the text. She is thrilled that her students not only love the books, but are gaining the information they need to meet the required standard.
With 25 students in her classroom, Meeuwse used to teach towards the middle. She would struggle to pull up the lower students, and the students who were ahead were left waiting. iPad, however, allows Meeuwse to personalise learning for her students by creating books for every level of student. Once she creates a book, it’s easy to duplicate it and create different levels for each reader, allowing students to learn at their own pace.
Meeuwse’s students don’t just consume content on their iPad, they also create content, using a variety of creation apps. Meeuwse will hand out an assignment, such as using four vocabulary words in a sentence or showing an example of subtraction. Her students can choose which app to use and how they want to show their understanding. The creativity, expression and comprehension that come out of these assignments astound her. And, of course, her students also love writing books. They create dynamic books for iPad with their own text and images — even video and voiceover.
And the results of all this engaged learning speak for themselves. In the past, about 35 per cent of Meeuwse’s students would enter Year 2 reading above the standard for their year. Now, for the second year in a row, 100 per cent of her students are moving on reading above the standard for their year. Learn how to create with iBooks Author
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