Putting the “I” in Books: Students Innovating iBooks

A summer conference session on iBooks at Lausanne Learning Institute inspired a collaborative challenge between our high school library and Chelsy Hooper, the technology integrator of a middle school: How could students at Pope John Paul II High School creatively teach a 6th grade Latin class at Ensworth Middle using the multimodal tools in iBook Author? This article shows a glimpse of the creative process and reflects on students as entrepreneurs who became writers, designers, and teachers– thereby putting the I, their innovations, in iBooks.

Pitching the idea
In a brainstorming session with our high school Latin teacher, Bozena Lawson, I suggested using the city of Pompeii and the dramatic event of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius as the theme of the book. The book Ashen Sky, illustrated by Barry Moser, showed how we might combine the writings of Ancient Romans to highlight culture and events of Pompeii.  I created a few sample iBook pages to demonstrate dynamic features of the iBook, such as scrolling gallery view of images, target widgets (close up view and text boxes as you click on areas of an image), and a sample embedded video about the eruption. See Mount Vesuvius video and following screenshot of Memento Mori page and puzzle widget.

Memento Mori. Remember that You Must Die, mosaic. By Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Memento_mori_MAN_Napoli_Inv109982.jpg” Excerpt From: “Latin iBook Pompeii.” iBooks.

Memento Mori. Remember that You Must Die, mosaic. By Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Memento_mori_MAN_Napoli_Inv109982.jpg”
Excerpt From: “Latin iBook Pompeii.” iBooks.

Memento Mor

This sample iBook was shown to all of the Latin students and interested students were invited to attend a brainstorming luncheon. At the luncheon, students viewed curriculum standards for 6th grade Latin and suggested topics that interested them. Three teams (of two students each) emerged:

  • Develop understanding of Roman social structure and religion
  • Develop understanding of Gladiator games as entertainment and political tool
  • Connect to 6th grade Earth Science curriculum by presenting the science behind the eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Screenshot below shows Contents page. Bottom shows individual pages that can be selected and expanded for view. (Note that interactivity of book pages can be previewed through iBooks Author on a Mac or exported to view as a PDF.)

Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius behind, Campania, Italy, Europe. Photography. Encyclopædia 
 Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 21 Feb 2016. 
 .

Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius behind, Campania, Italy, Europe. Photography. Encyclopædia 
 Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 21 Feb 2016. 
 .

Looking Closely at Primary Sources
The three student teams arranged times to meet outside of class and researched facts, but each team was challenged to find primary source images and identify writings of ancient Romans to add depth to their understanding of Roman life. Students used the Loeb Classical Library for primary source writings.

Team One: Two girls found a serendipitous pairing of ideas: one student was fascinated by altars in the home while the other student discovered a poem by Ovid, written while in exile, that solicited the “birthday god” and mentioned ceremonial altar practices. They developed a chapter on Lares et Penates (household gods of protection).

Engage with Activities. As the iBook was shared in Latin classes, students engaged in following activities:

  1. Read aloud stanzas from Ovid’s poem to the birthday god and 1) evaluate tone of the poem (Ovid was angry and “wretched” because he was in exile and each birthday added to the despair of his separation from friends and family) and 2) detail three ways of ceremonially honoring the birthday god.
  1. Select a god or goddess from the Gallery View widget based on attributes that match your personal interests (athletics, music, etc.)and type a poem to the “birthday god” using the Wipeboard widget: persuade with flattery while also requesting a special gift/talent from the god and illuminate the poem with drawings.

Team Two: Both of the boys had a flair for the dramatic and a fascination for gladiator games. Dressed in togas, they supplied a spirited play-by-play account of unfolding action at a gladiator game—a 59 A.D. Pompeii game that ended in a riot (and deaths) among the spectators of the rival gladiator teams. Students used writings of Juvenal to describe political meaning behind the phrase “Panem et Circenses” (Bread and Circuses).
See Gladiator Riot screencast video on LibGuide.

Riot at the amphitheater, detail, from Italy, Campania, Pompeii, painting on plaster,
 55-79 A.D. Photography. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. .

Riot at the amphitheater, detail, from Italy, Campania, Pompeii, painting on plaster,
 55-79 A.D. Photography. Encyclopedia Britannica Image Quest. <http://quest.eb.com/search/126_3731385/1/126_3731385/cite>.

Engage with Activities.  As the iBook was shared in Latin classes, students engaged in following activities:

  1. As classmates view the Gladiator Riot screencast, sportscasters request the audience to stand as they recite together the gladiator oath. Sportscasters also direct the audience to look at specific details of a painting depicting a historic riot at a gladiator game, using close up view and pointers (circles, arrows, lines).
  1. Read descriptions of types of gladiators and use Wipeboard widget to draw gladiator with weaponry specific to that gladiator. Discuss fighting strategy this gladiator would use.  (For example, the Retiarius Gladiator, who had armored protection only on one upper arm and shoulder, would use long pole of trident to keep attacker at bay while also using his large net to ensnare the opponent.)

Team Three: The boy and girl in this team were both students in our Earth Systems class, so they investigated the science behind the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and detailed the three characteristics of this devastating volcano eruption using the first-hand account of Pliny the Younger. View screen cast video of Mount Vesuvius eruption on LibGuide.

Eruption of Mt Vesuvius. 1872. Photo. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica 
 ImageQuest. Web. 27 Feb 2016. 
 .

Eruption of Mt Vesuvius. 1872. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica 
 ImageQuest. Web. 27 Feb 2016. 
 <http://quest.eb.com/search/109_138895/1/109_138895/cite>.

Engage with Activities.  As the iBook was shared in Latin classes, students engaged in following activities:

  1. Recite aloud the Latin phrases from Pliny’s description of the eruption.
  2. Name the three characteristics of the volcanic eruption (as described by Pliny the Younger).
  3. Use the matching widget to review famous writers and events connected to these writers.

The final portion of the iBook highlighted poems written by Latin students. Since each of these poems was inspired by a Latin phrase (motto) or mythological character, an extension activity invites students to choose one of the mottoes presented in the book or a mythological character to write their own poem.

Multimodal Learning
The Latin iBook project explored mulitmodal learning (aural, visual, gestural, spatial, and linguistic elements). I encourage you to read Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects to learn more about incorporating diverse learning in your own projects. Wishing you success as you explore student publications. Please share comments of creative projects.

A brief word on respecting copyright with iBook publications: we used Wikimedia Commons public domain images and rights-cleared images from Britannica Image Quest.  However, a fuller copyright discussion will be presented in future AISL blogs.

 

 

 

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One Response to Putting the “I” in Books: Students Innovating iBooks

  1. Selene Athas says:

    Joan,
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful details about your students’ iBook projects! I absolutely love projects that integrate so many different disciplines.

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