News from the International Reading Association Conference

The International Reading Association conference took place April 19 – 22nd in San Antonio, Texas. We were thrilled that all of us were able to attend and participate in IRA board activities, committee meetings, SIG sessions, preconference institutes, and workshops. Below are highlights from the conference.

• Bernadette was officially inaugurated onto the IRA board of directors. Her vast experience with teaching and learning in Ireland has yielded a goldmine of ideas that will help IRA forge ahead in new and innovative directions. She is sure to share many useful insights about the use of technology to support reading, writing, collaboration, and learning. We’re excited about what lies ahead for Bernadette and for IRA.

• Dana was honored with the Computers in Reading Research Award. This award is given by the TILE-SIG to honor reading researchers who have made a significant contribution to research related to classroom literacy instruction and technology integration. Her recent book Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age (co-authored with DeVere) provides professional development for teachers and techniques for integrating writing with Web 2.0 technologies. This ground breaking work, coupled with Dana’s work in digital vocabulary learning and teacher development, sets her apart as an exceptional scholar who is committed to supporting the work of teachers and teacher educators. Her keynote address will be presented at 2014 TILE-SIG session during the New Orleans conference.

• DeVere presented an interactive session at preconference institute organized by Kathy Ganske: Making a Difference through Writing. Participants explored two aspects of working in digital environments: How to work with digital sources to inform their writing and how to bring together digital images and composing processes, as means for increasing language learning. Participants learned how to use online tools their students can employ to draw or reuse images found on the Internet in service of writing as a means of learning. Examples of digital stories that combine images and words were provided, and participants with computers or smartphones had the opportunity to try some of the tools. By linking the parts of the brain that process images with those parts that process language, written work improves and so does student learning. Follow this link to view the presentation slides and resources.

• Bridget presented her innovative work on multimodal composition at the ‘Meet the Researchers’ poster session. She reported on a study conducted with Blaine Smith of Vanderbilt University that examined how two urban middle school youth collaboratively composed a digital video retelling of a folktale. Drawing on Camtasia real time video screen capture of the youth’s composing processes, their retelling products, and their perspectives on composing, they created an in-depth portrait of this pair of engaged, successful storytellers. The study supports the integration of multimodal composition into the literacy program, highlighting the value of teaching within a scaffolded digital composition workshop model.

• Jill, together with her colleague Heather Cotanch from the Lawrence Hall of Science, presented a workshop entitled Enhancing Literacy and Content Learning Using iPad Apps for Digital Content Creation. This hands-on learning experience involved participants in designing instructional experiences that actively engage students in creating digital content. Three digital content creation tools were used: 1) iMovie, a video creation app that makes shooting and editing a video simple, 2) ShowMe, an app that makes it easy to create a storyboard with images and drawing and includes a voiceover feature, and 3) VoiceThread, a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images and allows creators or viewers to add voice over, text, and video commentary. During the workshop, participants worked collabortively on iPads to create a product using one of the applications introduced. This full immersion approach mirrored what students face in the classrooms as they engage in digitally enhanced learning. Selected final products were shared and celebrated. Participant observations about the learning process were discussed with an eye toward design principles for implementation.

We hope you’re able to join the fun at next year’s IRA conference that will take place May 9-12, 2014 in New Orleans.

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Expanding the Scope of Digital Writing with iBooks Author

A New Post by Jill Castek

Tools for digital publishing are becoming much more sophisticated. With iBooks Author, it’s now easier than ever to create interactive and visually appealing iBooks for iPad. The Apple-provided templates feature a variety of page layouts. You can add your own text and images using drag-and-drop. Interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more can also be embedded. Completed books can be submitted iBookstore in a few simple steps. And before you know it, your students can be published authors.

Many teachers are now using the iBooks Author app to create iBooks. Some have used the ePub export option using Apple’s word processing program Pages to create PDFs that can be stored and accessed on iPads (using Kindle Reader for iPad).

Andrea Santilli and her seventh graders at Woodlawn Beach Middle School created a 133 page iBook entitled Creatures, Plants and More: A Kids Guide to Northwest Florida, that includes numerous images of creatures and plants. This book is an interactive field guide of Northwest Florida. The stories and photos are now a published collection that has become top seller in Apple’s iBookstore. For those interested in visiting Florida, or just reading about it, this book will bring you in contact with fascinating interactive photo galleries and videos along with detailed narrative descriptions.

Creatures, Plants, and More:   A Kid's Guide to Northwest Florida

Creatures, Plants, and More: A Kid’s Guide to Northwest Florida

Mr. Smith’s 5th graders created  Two Kids and a Desert Town. These special education students were greatly motivated to write for an authentic audience. The project integrated technology, provided opportunities for collaboration, and gave students the chance to reflect on their learning process. Having published this book, and knowing that individuals all over the world have downloaded it and read it, these students will forever see themselves as writers!

Two Kids and a Desert Town

Two Kids and a Desert Town

After the success of Desert Town, Mr. Smith’s students created a second iBook entitled 5th Grade: Reflections on our Year. This book showcases the growth made by each student across the year.  Reflecting on their progress has encouraged them to see themselves as readers and writers.

5th Grade:  Reflections on our Year

5th Grade: Reflections on our Year

Other creative teachers, such as Chris Schillig, and his students created spin-offs works including It Was A Dark and Stormy Classroom. This book is made up of more than 40 of their collaborations and solo stories — an anthology of crime, murder and clues that proves detective fiction is alive and well in the 21st century.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Classroom

It Was a Dark and Stormy Classroom

Mr. Schillig’s AP English class tried their hands at modernizing The Canterbury Tales and created Canterbury Remixed. As you peruse this book, you can see how engaging this tools in iBooks can really be!

Canterbury Remixed

Canterbury Remixed

If you’re interested in learning the specifics of iBooks Author and are attending the International Reading Association conference in San Antonio (April 19 – April 22), check out Genya Devoe’s session entitled Using iBooks Author to Bring Content To Life with Your Students. The session will include an introduction to iBooks Author and an extensive step-by-step presentation in how participants can use iBooks Author to meet the differentiate needs of students and engage students in literacy in a new, exciting way. This session will take place Sunday April 21st from 9am – 10am in the Grand Hyatt Lone Star Ballroom E.

IRA 2013

IRA 2013

If you’ve used iBook author and have a book or experiences to share, please leave a comment. It would be great to hear from you!

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