Book Creator is a web-based and iOS app created by Dan Amos, the founder of Red Jumper. I have used Book Creator for years with my elementary music students. We have used it in a one-device classroom to a 1:1 classroom. Here are five creative, student-tested ideas to try in your elementary general music classrooms.
#5 Music Composition ebooks
With my older elementary students, grades two and up, when I feel that they are ready, they will use Noteflight Learn (through MusicFirst’s LMS) to create simple original melodies within guidelines. These guidelines range from the amount of notes and rhythms they can use to various musical forms. Once they have composed their melodies, they export them to Soundtrap (they love Soundtrap-education version, but you do not need to do this) to create an accompaniment to their melodies with certain musical styles. Once completed, I move their compositions into Book Creator. I take a screenshot of their composition and export their song from Soundtrap as an .mp3 file. I import the screenshot of their song onto a page in Book Creator. Finally, I import the sound file.
Tip: The students love listening to each other’s music. I usually create groups so this is a group or center-based project. When finished, I can share the book creator link or export the book as a video (in the iOS app) and share the video with the parents on their Seesaw Journals. If you do not use Seesaw, you can share the ebook as a video or link through other sources such as a website, email, etc.
#4 Pitch Exploration ebooks
I adore using Dr. Feierabend’s 8-step workout for my students in preschool through grade one, found in his First Steps in Music for Preschool and Beyond series. Throughout the school year, I like to vary the pitch explorations (step 1) by using other tools besides the slide whistle. These tools can be scarves to make lines that they sing, an interactive whiteboard to draw patterns on the board to sing, or a snowflake or flower against a felt board that moves around for the students to sing the direction.
Last year, the students used the pen tool in Book Creator to draw a pitch exploration with their fingers. We then used the recording tool to record themselves singing their pitch explorations. We took it one step further to have the entire kindergarten class sing and record the pitch exploration.
Tip: When finished, share the pitch exploration ebook with their parents and caregivers. Use the shared link (web-based o iOS app) or export as a video (iOS app) so you can explain the curriculum to the parents and show them a wonderful, musical example made by their children.
#3 Composer ebooks
Each year, my students deep dive into a composer study. To show what they know, they group up and create ebooks about the composer. With younger elementary, you can work together to create one ebook. We have done this for various composers from Mozart to Bruce Springsteen (as apart of our NJ musician study). For older elementary, especially ones that come to music with a device such as a laptop or Chromebook, you can create a template in Book Creator and share the ebook to the class. They can collaborate and work together from their own devices. You, as their teacher, can see everything that they are doing and what pages they are working on, from your own device.
Tip: If the students are using the web-based app, they can search for pictures using the import tool. It will give them the option to use google within their app to search for images. This helps them only find images within google that are controlled by your school’s filters and only “labeled for reuse”. This is a wonderful way to discuss copyright and ownership over images. I had an in-depth conversation about this with my third graders, as social media is becoming more present with younger ages. Even with my own elementary-aged children, I have to monitor and put an end to various social media uses at home because of reasons such as sharing their own images in a non-productive way.
#4 Music and Movement ebooks
Each year, my students study and experience dances from around the world. As they master a dance, I video the dance. Last year, I decided to create a “Music and Movement Dance ebook From Around the World” to share with the parents. This ebook had a page with information about the dance, followed by a page with a video of them dancing. Throughout the year, I shared a page from the ebook via Seesaw (though you can do this with Flipgrid, Class Dojo, email, a school or music department website, etc). At the end of the year, I presented them with a completed ebook of dances that they have performed from around the world.
Tip: If you cannot share items due to showing students’ faces, use tools like iMovie, with their X-ray effect that can distort the faces. Or, Flipgrid has an effect that makes the video screen pixelated. There are ways to distort the faces in a video without distorting the content too much.
#5 ebooks to “Show What They Know”
My third graders begin studying the recorder at the beginning of the school year and visit it throughout the year. Due to this, they learn the basics of playing the instrument, as well as songs with notes that only use their left hands. This way, they come into fourth grade knowing the left- over right-hand position well and are capable of reading and performing more challenging music.
In the middle of the third grade school year, they create a “Recorder Tips” ebook for next year’s students. We have done this one on-and-off for years, even when Book Creator was an iOS only app. This year, I created the template, created a cover for the ebook using Canva, and then assigned a page for each student to create. Each page had a goal for them to achieve. One page had a student giving the “Dos” for the recorder. The next page had another student giving the “Don’ts” for a recorder. Those two students decided to sit down together and collaborate in real-time (using their Chromebooks and the web-based app) so that their lists showed the opposites. For example, “Do blow softly” and “don’t blow too hard.”
Tip: This was very intuitive for the students. I showed them the tools to use once, and they took off. They soon learned how to change the fonts, create different backgrounds, record themselves, and more. They went into the corners of the classroom to record themselves and joined forces to make their ebooks look professional and fun for next year’s students. By giving them an audience, they experienced more ownership so that they could empower themselves and share their voices.
Check out Book Creator today!
Are you going to TMEA 2020? Please visit me as I will be presenting every day. My sessions include how to integrate technology into elementary music approaches, 1:1 iPads in the elementary music room, 1:1 Chromebooks in the elementary music room, Seesaw in the elementary music classroom, and a session with Dr. Barb Freedman on elementary and middle school music tech tools.