Monday, February 7, 2011

Student publishing on the iPad

One of the best ways to motivate student writers is to give them an authentic audience for their work. The iPad provides an exciting way for students to publish work for one another. It was incredible to see kids' eyes light up when they saw the book they had created sitting on the iBooks shelf. They felt incredibly proud, and the iPad made it possible for each and every student to hold and examine a full-color publication of their classmates' work -- something that is difficult or impossible without the iPad. One of our goals is to use the iPad to allow students to begin to create resources for one another, which gives the students a sense of ownership over their own learning. Through this initial publishing process, we have figured out one way to start putting students in charge of their own content creation.

Here's how we did it:
  1. After reading about and studying particular topics, students in our second grade used the iPad to make documents in Pages. They imported drawings they had made in Drawing Pad or Whiteboard Lite, added captions and text, and used arrows and text boxes to create diagrams.
  2. We gathered the student Pages documents via e-mail. All the iPads use a single e-mail account, and the teachers are the only contacts. Students e-mailed us the documents as attachments. (You could also have them send in their work via DropBox or iDisk. If they sent their file directly to iDisk as a PDF, other kids could pull it up immediately and open it in iBooks -- instant publishing! The only reason we didn't do this is because we were assembling pages from multiple students' iPads into a single book.)
  3. We took all the related Pages documents and assembled them into a single Pages document using copy and paste. Students designed a front page to serve as the book cover. We then exported them as PDFs, dragged them to iTunes, and synced them to all the iPads. Our virtual bookshelf of student work is growing!


  1. Hi!

    This is also what we are experimenting with at our school. Except, we don't export as PDF. Instead, (in Pages) we "Share" as an epub. This will turn the file into an .epub file and then you can drag it into your iTunes library and it will convert it into an iBook.

    One frustration we've run into though is that the formatting in Pages does not always turn out the same as an ePub. iBook will adjust the formatting for the iPad and your book may turn out funky.

  2. The ePub option is definitely an interesting one, and I like how it offers the capability of embedding video and audio into your electronic books. For these projects, we went with PDF to preserve the formatting and design the kids had selected, but ePub is an exciting way to incorporate more media when needed. For those of you who might decide to experiment with ePub, be sure all images and media objects are inline objects, not floating; otherwise, they will not appear correctly in the ePub document.

  3. I'm curious -- does anyone know how long they worked on the technology plan before they began using iPads as a teaching tool? What type of training did the teachers receive? I would appreciate any information. Thanks.

  4. Hi, vhs!

    We are currently implimenting iPads into our curriculum and teaching this school year. We have training willing teachers in groups of 10 to 15. We will begin our third training course in March.

    We start with the basics of iPad use: creating an iTunes account, syncing to iTunes, downloading and install apps, customizing the iPad screens. Then we show them how to create an ePub in Pages (including inserting a short video) then exporting to iTunes as an iBook.

    We also ask the teachers to find a useful educational app and create a lesson plan using that app. Some of the teachers have already begun allowing their students to use the iPad in class. Teachers also use an elmo to display the iPad screen while showing them information using various apps and using Safari.

  5. Hi, I love reading about your iPad work, and I hope you don't mind but I've added a link from my apps wiki to your blog here
    Keep up the great work!