Whilst I was preparing for Term 1, 2014, I went looking throughout our school for big books. I am a firm believer in the use of big books from pre-school and into secondary as a tool for teaching students to read. I don’t just mean the process of reading but also, text analysis, code-breaking, critical thinking and synthesis. By integrating spelling, grammar and writing into big book lessons, students are better equipped to understand how all of these facets of literacy work together.
Anyway, in my search to find big books, not only did I not find many, but the ones I did find weren’t really relevant to my purposes… especially since our chosen text type was exposition. I went straight to my principal to ask for more books. Then, I changed my mind. Although we will always need books and I want my students to have a deep love of books, there are many limitations to the traditional big book.
- Students often can’t see the text very well.
- Only one practitioner can use each big book at a time
- They need to be accessioned through the library
- They easily become tattered
- It’s difficult to find a big book that specifically addresses everything
So, I did something a bit out-of-the-box. I wrote my own big books. Online. That way, all the teachers in my stage could be using the same book at the same time. They would be able to be displayed on screens so that all students could see them. The student with albinism would be able to bring to the texts up on her special screen. Then I realised more benefits:
- I could use themes that are relevant to the age of the students I teach
- I could make the book an example of the text type we’re focusing on
- I could include examples of the grammar focus
- I could include specific examples of spelling blends we’re looking at
- I could even have a link to the Integrated Inquiry if I wanted to
I used 2 mediums for my on-line books: Storybird and Calameo (with a combination of PowerPoint). The illustrations for Storybird are so beautiful. I managed to find some artworks that fitted a couple of themes and I plotted out two books using that medium. Then I used an online e-zine creator, Calameo, in combination with Powerpoint, to create 2 other books.
Before I started writing, I did some research about issues that are important to 10 year olds. I found that facilities for hobbies (ie. skate parks) are really important to that age group as are ways to deal with conflict (bullying). At this age, students are also starting to empathise with other children their age so I could write something about that.
Once I had written a basic outline and included an example of an exposition, I then went back and adapted words to suit the spelling focuses as well as changing sentences to suit the grammar theme for that week.
I’ve included 2 examples of the big books I created – one from Storybird and one from Calameo.