When I first introduced the book, I followed the recommendations from several studies (Berg, Hoffman & Dawson, 2010; Larson, 2010; Wen, Chuang & Kuo, 2012) to directly teach the features of eBooks and to model comprehension and information retrieval strategies. To model the features of the eBook, I began with displaying a slide showing some of the key symbols, such as the speaker icon and the glossary terms in the eBook. We had a quick discussion about what these icons represented. The children correctly identified all the symbols, except the use of underlined words to identify glossary terms. Then I displayed the eBook and I had children come up and click on a glossary term to model using this feature. To demonstrate information retrieval and comprehension skills, I initially considered using the built in note-taking abilities in the eBook but I felt that this may be too awkward for the first time using the book and may distract from the learning at hand. Instead, I created a KIM chart for children to record information and modelled the use of the chart to support information retrieval. Children used paper and pencil to complete the KIM Chart.
I chose to have the children work in mixed ability partners to explore a particular topic in the eBook. We specifically looked at Iqaluit and it’s land, weather, activities and clothing. Partners were assigned a topic area to record key information on the KIM chart. I made a few observations while the children were exploring the eBook. These observations are outlined below.
The children had no difficulties navigating through the eBook. I believe their familiarity with iPads in general played a large role in this. Several partners used the table of contents to quickly get to their topic section, while others quickly swiped to the pages they were instructed to explore. When students opened a video widget or clicked on a hyperlink which opened in Safari they were easily able to get back to their location in the eBook. I believe partner groupings assisted this process. If one student was unsure of how to get back, the other student often knew or they worked it out together.
The read aloud feature
All partners chose to use the read aloud feature and most followed along with the text as it was being read aloud. I was extremely pleased that we had chose to include the speaker icon as I do not feel that all students would have accessed the built-in text to speech capabilities of the iPad. The classroom teacher noted the independence the embedded supports in the eBook afforded the students. I agree with the findings of several studies (Coyne, Pisha, Dalton, Zepth & Cook Smith, 2012; Dalton, Proctor, Uccelli, Mo & Snow, 2011; Douglas, Ayres, Langone, Bell & Meade, 2009) that the built-in accessibility features of the eBook levelled the playing field for students and increased independent access and participation in learning activities.
In general, the children were able to extract key information about their topics. Something I noticed from a couple of partners was that they were watching the video more for enjoyment rather than to extract information. I feel that the inclusion of a question prompt after the video would be beneficial to support comprehension and information retrieval. For example, after the video we could include a prompt such as “Now watch the video again and this time think about...” Another option would be to include a couple of multiple choice or matching questions after a video to check for understanding.
In summary, I am very pleased about the learning potential for using this resource and others like it. I am keen to continue creating chapters for this class to use as well as searching for other universally designed eBooks to support other classes and grade levels.
Berg, S. A., Hoffmann, K., & Dawson, D. (2010). Not on the same page: Undergraduates’ information retrieval in electronic and print books. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36(6), 518–525. doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2010.08.008
Coyne, P., Pisha B., Dalton, B., Zeph, L.A. & Cook Smith, N. (2012). Literacy by design: A Universal design for learning approach for students with significant intellectual disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 33(3), 162-172. doi:10.1177/0741932510381651.
Dalton, B., Proctor, C. P., Uccelli, P., Mo, E., & Snow, C. E. (2011). Designing for diversity: The role of reading strategies and interactive vocabulary in a digital reading environment for 5th grade monolingual English and bilingual students. Journal of Literacy Research, 43(1), 68–100. doi: 10.1177/1086296X10397872
Douglas, K., Ayres, K, Langone, J, Bell, V. & Meade, C. (2009). Expanding literacy for learners with intellectual disabilities: The role of supported eText. Journal of Special Education Technology, 24(3), 35-44. Retrieved from http://www.tamcec.org/jset/
Larson, L. C. (2010). Digital readers: The next chapter in e-book reading and response. The Reading Teacher, 64, 15-22. doi:10.1598/RT.64.1.2
Wen, J., Chuang, M., & Kuo, S. (2012). The learning effectiveness of integrating e-books into elementary school science and technology classes. International Journal of Humanities & Arts Computing, 6(1-2), 224. doi:10.3366/ijhac.2012.0051