– How to create an image book using Bookr
The first step is to go to http://www.pimpampum.net/bookr/ and to write the title of the book and the author’s name. Then you can type one or two key words about your topic in the search field (tags), and using these tags you can search your images on Flickr and also search randomly for others’ images. After the search through the Flickr images, the site will show you the results. Once you find the image that you want to use, click on it and you will see it on the page. Then click on the bottom right corner of the page to turn to the next page, just like a book. Now you can use some of the images from the previous search or you can start a new search. Also, you can turn as many pages as you want, and add more pages, simply by clicking on the + sign. Each time you click on the + sign, two new pages will be added. When you are done with your book, click on ‘publish this book!’ After that you will have the option to email the book or to use a number of social networks to share it. Also, you can get a link to your book.
In the session we had about visuals in language learning materials, we looked at tools like Bubblr, Bookr and Flickr to create our own materials. The following two links are examples of two photobooks that were created on Bookr. The first (English signs) is an example made by our tutor Paul Slater, and is a combination of images with text. The second link (countries, capitals and flags) is another example but is created by me, and it contains only images.
In this post I would like to talk in more depth about the fruitful discussions we had in this session, and the design processes. We looked at Jolly and Bolitho’s materials writing framework. Following their dynamic (flexible) five stages or steps can really help teachers in the process of producing appropriate materials that meet their learners’ needs. Using this framework, I will explain why I used Bookr to create my own materials. The first step in Jolly and Bolitho’s framework is the identification of a need. My personal experience in teaching in intermediate (middle) school (grades 6 to 9) has shown me that the amount of vocabulary increases gradually. However, I have noticed a massive jump in the amount and difficulty of the vocabulary from grades 6, 7, and 8 (where the vocabulary is almost the same) to grade 9, which is the last year in the intermediate level before secondary school (grades 10, 11, and 12). I had the chance to teach this level, grade 9, and it is almost impossible to cover the amount of vocabulary in one or two hours, and even sometimes in three! Most of the time we use the vocabulary as a warm-up exercise or an introduction to the lesson, and for that reason we cannot spend much time focusing only on vocabulary. This is the reason why I think using visuals (images) can be a possible solution to this issue. Images can have more impact on learners than oral explanations or definitions. Bookr is considered to be a new tool because it uses technology, and it is an opportunity to attract students, as the images are recent and relevant to the lesson, because ‘coursebook images, for example, are often treated simply as decoration – as background to the more important text’ (Ben Goldstein, 2008, p: 1). On Goldstein’s blog there is also some great stuff about images and tasks that I would recommend you to have a look at. I found an interesting image that is related to the context of my Bookr photobook (countries, capitals, and flags). You can see the collage of football fans who have painted their faces with their countries’ flags, and in this task he suggested the following question ‘How many World Cup competing countries can your students identify, and what happened to them in tournament?’; he was talking here about the last World Cup, in Germany in 2010.
For example I can use both these sources (my Bookr and Goldstein’s image) for my context while teaching a lesson or whole unit about countries or peoples around the world. It would be a good start for a lesson to elicit some information, and would encourage students to participate by using their knowledge and background about countries. I would be including an image that might be related to the context AND to their interests, e.g. football. The next exercise or task would be to ask them if they know which country is which by looking at the flags, with some help or hints like the language they speak or the capital, or we can start from a different point by giving the name of the country and asking the students what they know about the country, its capital, and the language spoken there.
This can create an environment where the students enjoy visuals that help them to give attention to the lesson. It is a way of engaging learners both effectively and cognitively in the language learning process, and Tomlinson (2011) supported this idea. I think it is really important for us teachers to provide our learners with effective engagement through the use of Bookr or any other tools, as research has shown that this can increase learners’ retention.
After the great discussion we had in the class, we came up with the conclusion that we can use Bookr in two ways – with text or without. It depends on the context in which you are teaching in, and the specific needs of your learners. An interesting idea on which we built our discussion is how different people see different things, and how images might be seen as a language with its own vocabulary. The idea of using use a text with the images or not also depends on how effective the images are. Teachers can choose to use text or not to use it, as they have the best knowledge of their own specific teaching situation.
Ben Goldstein’s blog at http://www.bengoldstein.es/blog
Goldstein, B. (2008) Working with Images: A Resource Book for the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jolly, D., & Bolitho, R, (2011) The Process of Material Writing. In Tomlinson, B. (Ed), Materials development in language teaching (pp. 90-115). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.