Teachers create own iPad texts

SALEM – Some Salem junior high teachers unhappy with the science textbooks available used today’s technology to create their own books for use on the iPad tablets in their classrooms.

Known as iBooks, the instructional creations incorporate videos, interactive 3-D images and even the capability for sample questions and quizzes the students can use as part of the education process.

“They felt they could create something that was better than what was being offered out there,” Salem Schools Superintendent Tom Bratten said.

The iBooks also incorporate the new state standards schools are required to teach so lessons can focus on what students need to learn. All districts must have the new standards in place by 2015, but Bratten said they’ve already been using most of them since last year.

Eighth grade science teacher Ruth Baker, seventh grade science teacher Amie Cochran and intervention specialist and technology liaison Nicole Rothbauer explained what they did to board members during their meeting Thursday night, equipping them with iPads so they could see the iBooks and their capabilities first-hand.

The three of them each put 50 to 90 hours of their own time into the project over the summer, with Rothbauer learning how to use a Mac computer to help write the iBooks and Baker and Cochran working on the content. To date, they have three iBooks completed which they’re already using in the classrooms and have two more nearly completed. They have a couple more iBooks they want to work on this summer.

“When we’ve used them in the classroom, I’ve never seen the students so engaged. It’s a wonderful experience,” Cochran said.

Baker explained that students can go at their own pace, they can get definitions of terms and learn through the visuals available.

Cathy Sanor, Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs at the district, said Rothbauer has shared what she learned through the writing program with other teachers and they’re working on their own iBooks for use in the classrooms as a teaching tool. Junior High Principal Sean Kirkland praised the teachers for what they’ve done and board member Brad Myers said these are the types of efforts the public doesn’t see that teachers do in their off hours.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at mgreier@salemnews.net