We are a very large primary school with over 750 students, we also have one of the largest enrolments of EAL students (English as another language and students that speak little or no English)
A few weeks back, in an effort to not only help our students develop their English speaking skills, but also celebrate their native languages (Arabic and Chaldean) I started a digital book project.
Each student has created a series of digital books on topics around school, hobbies, and their experiences as new migrants to Australia. Each book contains English as well as Arabic and Chaldean, students are using images, voice, video and more. Better still, they are creating all these books themselves using an iPad each.
Instruction was very limited from me, I gave students an overview of the App we would be using (Book Creator) and that was it. They picked up the iPad (some for the first time) and were instantly engaged and in control. Having the ability to switch the iPad from English to Arabic on the fly was a great help, giving students a very visual guide. Accessibility options of the iPad such as define and speak selection also helped those with their English. And one little thing, Siri, was also a big help – some students were till very new to writing in English, being able to use Siri to dictate with gave them a huge confidence boost.
It of cause wasn’t all shiny toys and iPads, the great EAL teachers were there to help students with their literacy, narrative and more, but the key thing was they were so engaged with this device and what they were creating that the school part of it melted into the background.
I have been collecting these books and uploading them to iTunes to share with the world. We can now say that we have the largest collection of online books in the world that focus on English and Arabic / Chaldean languages. They are a great resource for our students here learning English, as well as the millions in Iraq and other countries where students can find books on their level and made by people the same age!
We are also finding that these books have been a great way for other students in or school to learn English. One student’s English is very basic, but he made a great book (check it out here) and one of the teachers provided the voice over. Now he loves to learn from his own book!
Word of our little project got out and now not only are our students published authors, but soon the will be famous. The local newspapers want to do a story on our project and came in yesterday to take photos. I will be sure and post the article up here as soon as it hits the stands – autographs most welcome.
You can checkout and download our first series of books here, be sure and leave a great review for the students!
The newspaper comes to Good Sam!