Sunday, January 19, 2014

Promoting Literacy through World Book Talk with Brad Gustafson and Heather Cooper

World Book Talk (#worldbooktalk) is undoubtedly my favorite collaborative project that aims to connect the world while promoting literacy. Created by principal Brad Gustafson  and teacher Heather Cooper, World Book Talk, as the name implies, is a collection of book talks from people connected through the Internet and shared via Aurasma's augmented reality technology. 

Having contributed a few book talks created by students and planning to add more in the future, I want to help spread the word about World Book Talk. Although current submissions have been made only through students and educators in the United States, the goal is to have contributions from all over the world. 

Brad patiently answered a few questions for me about World Book Talk and its impact on learning in his own school. His responses show how a PLN can influence the creation of new experiences for our students: 

            What is World Book Talk?

The World Book Talk is a project that allows students anywhere on the globe to access engaging one minute book talk videos using Augmented Reality (AR) technology.  Augmented Reality is a super-engaging technology that connects supplemental digital content to everyday objects (like the cover of a book).  All that’s needed to view the short videos is a mobile device (iPad, tablet, etc.) and the Aurasma app.  First, follow our World Book Talk channel in Aurasma. Then, aim your device’s viewfinder at a book’s cover to watch it come alive!

The best part of #WorldBookTalk is that students are not only consumers of the content…they can also be creators.  We’re collecting book talk video submissions from students, authors, and connected educators all over the country.  

            How did you come up with the idea for World Book Talk?

The idea was conceptualized through collaboration between Heather Cooper (@HCooper815) and myself.  We connected via Twitter and work together on some of the technical aspects using a shared Aurasma Studio account.

The catalyst for the project was probably a connection that was made with author/educator, Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd).  He had created a custom book talk video for the school I serve at that we linked to his Spruce and Lucy children’s book.  Reading his book and sharing the custom Augmented Reality message with our students was such an inspiring experience.  We knew the power of Augmented Reality could be tapped into to connect students to their favorite books and peers around the globe in the same exciting way!

How involved with the project are students and teachers at your own campus?

Awareness and participation in the World Book Talk project is growing.  We started just a couple months ago and have received some really creative submissions from 12 or more different states.

Greenwood Elementary students and staff are getting in on the action too.  Students from several classes are creating their book talk videos, and some of their teachers are also participating.  (I currently have a small backlog of submissions from our school, but those are next on my to-do list!)

What has been the reaction of students, teacher and parents?

We’re seeing students’ faces light up!  The passion and purpose behind the videos they create is very evident.  The technology is extremely engaging and provides layers to learning that a worksheet or traditional book report can’t.  When most people see Augmented Reality in action for the first time their reaction is along the lines of, “Holy Cow!” 

What do you hope to accomplish with World Book Talk? How will you know if it’s a success?

When we first started the World Book Talk there were two goals: 

1.) To meaningfully integrate technology into the student learning experience and 
2.) To assist students in activating prior knowledge so they were able to forge powerful connections to a text.  

However, the vision for the project has evolved.

We want to continue to provide students an authentic audience for their work.  Creating a one minute video for the World Book Talk project provides students this opportunity and truly amplifies “student voice.”   Students are reading with a purpose and the pride in the quality of work they’re producing shines through.  To realize the shift to a 21st century pedagogy we need to continue to aspire to put students in the center of their own learning in new and innovative ways.  

Proud to have these two outstanding educators as part of my PLN, I encourage everyone who reads this blog post to consider contributing to World Book Talk. You can learn how by visiting Brad's blog, Adjusting Course: World Book Talk

Brad Gustafson is a K-5 principal in Minnesota.  His goal is to partner with staff and stakeholders to engage students in a personalized 21st century educational experience marked by high levels of learning, creativity, and unceasing opportunities to collaborate within a technology-rich environment.  You can connect with Brad via Twitter at @GustafsonBrad.

You can connect with Heather Cooper on Twitter at @HCooper815.

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