Last weekend was Edcamp Philly. On multiple occasions I have taken the train into Philadelphia to attend Edcamp. I love that it gives me time to reflect and process the ideas I hear afterwards. This time I also found inspiration on my way into Philadelphia. Can an iBook be written and published collaboratively in an hour? This idea blossomed on the train to Philadelphia; it was inspired by a session I attended at EduCon in 2014. The difference is this book will contain our Edcamp stories. Many non-edcampers question why I’m willing to give up my Saturday’s to attend professional development. I have so many reasons, but I struggle to expressively capture the Edcamp experience. In case you are reading this as someone wondering the same thing: the Edcamp Foundation strives to provide free professional development to meet the needs of teachers. There is a lot of detail on the Edcamp Foundation website. If inspired after reading other people’s stories, future Edcamp locations and dates are posted on the Edcamp Wiki.
I realized that organization and structure were critical. There needed to be a system in place to collect and collaborate. Google Drive was the solution, but it needed organization. I created a single folder for the Edcamp Book, but there were subfolders for images and stories, as well as documents for organization, table of contents, and credits. I also wrote my story so I would be able to walk everyone else through the steps during the edcamp session instead of trying to write on the spot.
I was slightly disappointed that only 5 people were in the session, but I can not blame the others because of the number of great sessions offered, it was hard to choose. The people attending were good sports and all wrote their stories. I thought it could be done in 15 minutes, but it took almost 25. Because there were so few people, we skipped the edit portion. We were lucky that Kevin Jarrett was taking photos the entire time, and he publishes his work under Creative Commons on Flickr, so we did not have to labor over trying to find images. It was a catch-22, without the images the book could not be published. Instead, we spent the remainder of the session writing suggestions for our future selves or other teachers how to apply this to a classroom with students instead of adults. It was time well spent.
I would love if more people shared an Edcamp story. It does not have to be long or life altering, it could just be something funny or memorable. I have so many stories I could tell, like the multiple road trips, or the mouse in the house at Edcamp Philly 2013, or the friends I seek out every edcamp I attend … but I have already contributed multiple parts and it seems egotistical to include more of my own. It would defeat the collaborative purpose if I wrote half the book. PLEASE SHARE A STORY. Encourage others to attend a local edcamp.
Findings/reflections about the experiment:
- Show them an example of what an e-book could look like
- Provide specific directions for what they should write so the book is cohesive
- Make sure there a definitive roles and an understanding of the roles
- Make sure there is plenty of time for them to revise and expand
- Have them create a mind map of topics (maybe have them sign up for topics)
- To include images — have them start collecting images in a folder.
- Set up folders — Images, Notes, Draft, Final Versions, Credits, Table of Contents. By sharing the original folder, everyone will be able to contribute and add their stories.
- Set up a style guide: name looks like this, title, font, etc. For younger students, create template of layout that they change and have them do File > Make a Copy.
- Maybe make the e-book a long-term project so maybe not tied to a particular unit of study. Great way to share work with parents and a wider audience.
- We found that the writing can be done in an hour, but a quality book needs more than that. With the structure in place, it would be as easy as a poster project in class but it would be shared with a wider audience.
- Use Book Creator app to put the story together. This would be easy for the teacher to take the pieces and arrange. The final file for the book can be published back into Google Drive and a link can be generated to share with students and parents (and easily the world).
- Take screenshots of completed GoogleDocs, it could even include images. Much easier to resize just the image on a book page.
Extension into my classroom:
Last summer I felt ambitious and wanted to create an iBook as a class – it was part of my summer inspiration blog post. That idea fell flat, but now I feel like it is possible and have actionable steps to make it a reality. I like my original idea, but tie it into the Five Themes mini-unit. The students already do a project that ends up taking a day or two longer than anticipated, so their efforts could be redirected to an iBook. They are proud of their work, but lack audience when they create a poster or an iMovie Trailer. The projects can be uploaded to Google Drive and made public with a shareable link. The link could be texted through Remind to parents and students to enjoy. Instant pride.
Creating iBooks makes even more sense for next year because the 6th grade will finally be part of the 1:1 initiative in the district with iPad minis. They will create resources to contribute to their classmate’s learning. Another reason it makes sense is potential switch to Google Classroom which will make managing Google Docs easier. I would create the template for the page, and they would automatically have a copy made by clicking on the assignment. It would take some time on the teacher side to compile the pieces, but it would be worthwhile. In fact, I’m almost sad there are only 1o days of school left, or I would try to fit this into the end of the school year. It has potential to be a game changer.