Restart Recharge Podcast

210 - Get Creative With Book Creator

May 24, 2022 Forward Edge Season 2 Episode 10
Restart Recharge Podcast
210 - Get Creative With Book Creator
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode we are joined by Book Creator’s very own, Jon Smith. Listeners of this episode will hear from Technology Integrator turned Book Creator Teacher Success Rep and one of our own coaches on the many creative uses of one of our favorite tools. You’ll be sure to walk away with ideas for your own use and to share with the teachers you work with.

Links mentioned in the show:

Forward Edge Coaches Camp Registration - RRPODCAST for $50 off.

Book Creator

Follow Jon Smith on Twitter

Follow Lisa Kuhn on Twitter

Podcast Team

Hosts- Katie  Ritter & Justin Thomas

Editing Team- Michael Roush & Mark Gumm

Social Media/ Promo Team- Annamarie Rinehart, Lisa Kuhn, Maggie Harris

Creative/Content Team- Brooke Conklin, Emily Cowan, Tracee Keough

Producers- Justin Thomas

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Justin Thomas:

Calling all technology coaches join for an edge this summer for a two day coaches camp packed with high quality professional development exclusively for you. Attendees will work with like minded coaches on creating strategies for teacher relationships, executing coaching cycles and building a culture of coaching and tech integration within their school district. There are two opportunities to attend coaches camp this summer join us either June 25 and 26th in New Orleans prior to iste 2022 or in Cincinnati on July 28 and 29 please visit For and hyphen edge dotnet slash coach camp to reserve your spot today.

Katie Ritter:

Aloha, I'm Katie Ritter.

Justin Thomas:

And I'm Justin Thomas. And this is the restart recharge podcast, a podcast by coaches for coaches. We bring the tips and tricks to help you in your everyday work as instructional technology coach or whatever they call you in your school district. So hopefully

Katie Ritter:

you're going to leave this episode with us today feeling just a little bit less on your own coaching Island. And just

Justin Thomas:

a friendly reminder, you heard that coach camp promo at the start of this episode. You can get $50 off by using the code AR AR podcast in all caps. So make sure that you register for coaches camp. And just a reminder one of our great sponsors for coaches camp is Book Creator and that leads us into today's episode. As On this episode we are joined by book creators very own John Smith. And listeners of this episode are going to be able to hear from a technology integrator who turn into Book Creator teacher success rep and one of our own coaches on the many creative ways that you can use Book Creator is one of our favorite tools, you will be sure to walk away with all the ideas for your own use and how to share them with the teachers that you work with. So let me introduce John Smith. John Smith is currently the teacher Success Manager for Book Creator and in Apple Distinguished Educator class of 2015. John was a special education teacher for 12 years before spending seven years as technology integration specialist for Alliance City Schools, where his digital book projects have attracted attention for their global reach and practical approaches to integrating trans literacy practices into the classroom. John organized nine global digital book projects in which classrooms from around the world wrote and published digital books. He is married with three children. He is also a scratch golfer. And in his spare time John details cars, you could connect with John on Twitter at the AI pod teacher. So once again, thank you, John Smith, for joining us here today.

Jon Smith:

Thanks for having me. That sounded really impressive. I'm glad I had somebody else write that bio for me. Makes me sound way cooler than I actually am. So thank you for having me.

Katie Ritter:

No, not true. We are glad to have you and I have the pleasure of introducing our very own Lisa Kuhn. With us here again today. You've heard her fairly recently on the podcast. She's been with us a number of times. She likes to switch her bio up on me every time to try to trip me up because I introduced her. So here we go. Let's see if I can do it without stumbling. Lisa is currently the instructional design coach for a suburban urban school district of about 5000 Students P K through 12 in over 300 educators on five campuses, which is recently shrunk down from more than five campuses. She has a certified Google trainer and has presented at conferences ranging from locally run high aims to nationally attended St. Those who have been following the podcast know that Lisa is the Baray wearing kayak paddling adventures coach who thrives on trying new things with her teachers and coaching colleagues. One of her longest running collaborative efforts has been with Book Creator ranging from young second graders writing about a favorite historical person to upper level high school literature, students writing their analytical essays and even conference going educators. Lisa enjoys helping both students and teachers bring their stories to life through Book Creator. So Lisa, welcome back. I am super excited for you to get to share some of those little preview snippets that we got to hear about in your bio with our listeners today.

Lisa Kuhn:

Thank you. Yes, I am too, because Book Creator has just absolutely changed the lives of so many of my teachers. So I'm really excited to be here today.

Katie Ritter:

Oh, I love that. I'm already getting all the fields. Okay,

Jon Smith:

I'm writing that one down so I can send that to our marketing team. Yeah,

Katie Ritter:

excellent. To quote Matt. Well. Okay, so John, we are going to kick it off with you since you're kind of a special guest here today. We'd love to hear a little bit more about your background in education and kind of what Then what's the path that ultimately led you to now working for Book Creator and helping so many teachers find this great tool?

Jon Smith:

Yeah, so I was a special ed teacher for 12 years, mostly fifth and sixth grade. Every once in awhile, they threw a kindergarten class in there, I think just just to make sure I was still awaking, and kind of keep me on my toes. And so I really enjoyed that. And towards the end of my time, as a special ed teacher, that's kind of where the Book Creator story for me started. And so I'll come back in a second. But then after I left, special education, I became a tech integration specialist coach, every year, they gave us a different piece to the end of our title. So I don't even really know what I was. But I enjoyed technology. And I talked with teachers and coach teachers into using technology right all the time. And so I did that, like, like I said, in my bio for seven years in alliance, here in Ohio, so yeah, so the that's kind of my background, right. That's kind of where I started. And then how did I get to where I am today? Again, it kind of started, you know, I guess, 10, almost 10 years ago, taught well, no, I can't do the math. I'm not a math teacher, about 12 years ago. Now. 2010, I found Book Creator. And this was one of those kind of epiphany kind of moments that I had, it was kind of one of those moments where, you know, I was in a bad spot, right? Like in my career. My kids were not good kids, right? They were really struggling with you know, I don't mean not good. Kids are all good. Right. But they were they were struggling with learning. They were the you know, some of them were violent towards, you know, other kids and fear. Yeah, like, yeah, it was, it was kind of a bad situation, right? And I was trying to find, like, how do I fix that kind of lights so that I don't get hurt? Or like retire at, you know, 24, right. Like, I was like, How do I how do I change that. And I remember going on to the App Store on my iPad that that week, like the very first time like the App Store came out, and you can go, no joke, you could go to the App Store on a Thursday, and it would be five new apps. And that was it. And it was like way back when, right. And I was so excited. And this all Book Creator. And I was like, this is kind of interesting, right? I've always wanted to make a book, this might be the hook, I need to get my kids excited. And so I went in and basically told him like, Hey, we're gonna write a book. They're like, No, we're not. And I was like, Look, before you throw a chair at me. This is why we're going to do this. And they're like, why? And that's it. Because I want the whole world to see how bad your writing is. And they were like, wait, what, and I was like, we're gonna publish your book for the whole world is sake. And the kids are like, we that sounds kind of silly. And I was like, I just want everybody to see it. And they're like, well, if we're gonna make a book for the world, don't you think we want to make it good? And so like, we had this like, like, this moment where like, we're all like, Wait, timeout, like, that's all it took? Like, I mean, I literally almost quit my job. And all I had to tell you was that I was going to take your garbage writing and show the whole world. Yeah, like, that's it. I was like, Wayman, I can keep teaching. This is good. So I took this idea of them writing a book and sharing it. And I remember, like, I don't apparently nobody was doing this at the time. And I shared it out, you know, at the time through Apple's bookstore, using Book Creator from the iPad. And these kids got 1000s of downloads of these books in a matter of weeks. And everything just changed, right, like, everything changed. And I realized at that moment that as teachers, like no offense, but like, we're not really that good anymore, right? And especially now, I mean, that was that was like 12 years ago, when YouTube and all that stuff wasn't even really important. But now, a global audience is huge, right? From the start, right? These kids, they, they've got 10,000 YouTube followers, before we even eat breakfast. And we're just like, dude, take it home and stick it on your fridge, right? Like, and they're like, that's not good. And so they're trying to figure out ways to make all of this better. And so that was kind of my start, and 200 Something books later, and the 100,000 downloads later, you know, whatever. Like, I still enjoyed using Book Creator with my kids and sharing it with other people and going to conferences and coaching teachers into using Book Creator in their classrooms and things like that. And it was just because I loved Right. And, and then at one point, the Book Creator became available on Chrome. And there was a tweet, that book creator sent out and they're like, we're looking for somebody to join our sales team, which they didn't even have in the in Bristol, right. And I sent Dan, you know, our marketing guys send them a text message. And I was like, tell me about this job. I was like, I'm not moving to Bristol. But tell me, tell me about it. And so then no joke, like five minutes later get a text from our founder. And he's like, we just had a staff meeting and we were talking about you. Let's have a phone call. And so we started talking. And again, when Chrome came out, we didn't really know what to do because everything had been iPad app up into that point, and it was all taken care of right. And so now we went to a subscription model, we didn't know what we were doing. And so they hired me, which is great, right? We've got a company, we weren't sure what we were doing. And we hired a guy who was a teacher who didn't know what he was doing. And that's how we started, right? The whole subscription thing. Yeah, so so it was funny, because like, no joke, I would teach all day, and then I'd go home, and from like, five o'clock and go 11 o'clock at night, I'd be doing like sales, right? Like, trying to help out. And it was crazy. And then after about a year and a half of that, it was like, look, let's just make this official, come join Book Creator. And so I did. And, and I've been there ever since. And I think, you know, least I can kind of get a sense already that she loves Book Creator, you know, and then she uses with her kids and teachers a lot. And for me, that was the easy part of the move, right? Because I completely believe in Book Creator. And if I didn't completely believe in it, I wouldn't be working here. And so I really do love it and appreciate it. And I think it's game changing.

Katie Ritter:

Yeah, I love so I feel like there's like so much to unpack, I could dig into and ask you more about what you said there. No, I love it. It's, you know, it's it's always really cool to hear people's stories, and especially when, when that passion is there for you. So that's awesome. So I kind of have one follow up question for that, though, from kind of, we're getting this like inside information to your insight look into Book Creator. So what is from, you know, whether it's kind of like your perspective, or sort of like, this is the Book Creator mission statement, you know, whatever the company line is here, you know, I'm just interested in knowing like, what is the moonshot goal for education from book creators perspective? Like, like, what? How, at what point would you guys get there and be like, we have arrived like, here, this is what we wanted?

Jon Smith:

Yeah, no, I think it was a great question. I mean, if you go to our website, like right there on the front, you know, it's like Create, Read publish. Right. And I think that's, I think, in a nutshell, right? That's a simple answer. But I did put it into our Slack channel, right? Because that was like, I want to hear what everybody else is, like, what are your thoughts? I was like, I have my own, you know, but like, what are your thoughts? And so actually, I actually looked at that, so So I haven't here. So our founder, right, this is our founders moonshot goal is for every student to have an education that engages enthuses and prepares them. Right. But that also, it's also for teachers to have support to deliver that right to the students. Right? How do we support teachers to deliver that the that goal, right, that prepares them. And we want kids to look back at school. And we want them as a time to have excitement, right and potential, and not that they weren't at the top of their class, right? We don't want kids looking back being like, I was 170/5 in my class, right? We want them to look back and be like, You know what, I love school, I enjoyed it. And I am going to miss it. Right? And I want to take that learning that I had in school and and move it in my life. Like that's our that's kind of our moonshot goal for it as a founder. And so it was interesting, because he's like, Well, what's yours? Like, I want to hear what you have to say. And so it was funny, because I put in that I want us to be able to provide a platform that all students and teachers can share their story, right, because I think we all have a story to tell. And I want to be able to get that out. And that we all you know that we are able to share that right regardless of our background. And so our founder, he sent me a message back he goes, I love that. I think that's true. He goes but wait, don't we already do that. And I said, we do write like that is what we do. That is that's all that's what book crater is. And I said, but the reason for me that it's in my head that it's a moonshot is because not every teacher is doing that. And what I have found is that as teachers, and I was the same way until I published books, I feel like teachers, a lot of times, we're kind of in our like, little pocket. And we think that what we're doing isn't that great. So it's not really worth sharing. Right? It might be great in my classroom, but it's, that's it's just my classroom. And so I realized that my, it's like, it's like that old phrase was one man's trash is another man's treasure, right? So what I think is not that great in my class, somebody else might really love and it might be that earth shattering moment that changes their life. And so that's why I think it's really important that we as teachers, share our stories and share the stories of our kids.

Katie Ritter:

I love that so much thanks for sharing that because I just know I know that for me when I feel like I you know, the reason you went to Book Creator, right, like things I use and engage with on a regular basis. I like to feel you know, like I like to believe in them and feel connected. So I think it's cool just for educators and for coaches and our listeners to kind of hear, you know, because I think a lot of us believe in Book Creator, Book Creator, but to see behind the scenes there and a little bit more of the the humans that are behind it and making it all happen, you know, it's nice to just give a get an insight in that and feel a little bit more connected to it. So thanks for sharing that. Sure.

Justin Thomas:

Well, obviously there's, I mean, that was a fantastic moonshot goal. And I really liked the fact that you said, you know, it's kind of what's happening already right now as well. But you're kind of shifting it to let's get everyone on board with it. So what advice would the two of you both as coaches make in order to get the most out of Book Creator? So what are some creative ways coaches can use Book Creator in this? Is there any resources or certifications that Book Creator has to get all the teachers so you can get your moonshot goal here, John?

Lisa Kuhn:

Well, I know for me, as a coach, the resources that Book Creator offers are absolutely fantastic. They have an entire discover library where you can search by grade level by content, there are samples for SEL, for digital citizenship, whatever it is, you need to get across, there is something out there for it, which is amazing. I also, like you touched on the support side, and I just want to put a plug out there, when I was first starting Book Creator, and you're such a celebrity. Now, John, you may not remember that. But when I was first getting started with Book Creator a couple years ago, I actually got to have a phone call with you, where you talked me through some things, and how it can be used, and how to get the students and teachers involved. And it was just wonderful. So reach out to the people Book Creator, if you have any issues or questions or I don't know, or, you know, it's just, they're there, you guys are there. And it's been an absolute joy to have that resource available. So that's where I would start with it.

Jon Smith:

Well, and well, first of all, thank you for that. I think, you know, we do we really pride ourselves on trying to get answers right to people as fast as possible. And I know when I was in the classroom, if I had a problem, right, you know, and the Internet wasn't working, you know, I would catch the tech in the hallway, right? And this was not an alliance. But in my other district, I'd catch the tech in a hallway and I be like, hey, the internet's not working, like, Did you fill out a ticket? And I'm like, No, the internet's not working.

Justin Thomas:

How am I supposed to do that?

Jon Smith:

Can you fix it? But that's, you know, for me, I always people make fun of me, right? But creative people make fun of me. They'll ask me all the time. They're like, John, it's 330 in the morning, why are you on Slack? Right? And I'm like, because the thought popped in my head when it was on the way to the bathroom or something like I like I want I don't want people to have to wait, right? Like, I want to have answers when they need answers. And so I feel like the team does a really good job at doing that. So. And I also wanted to piggyback on the resources thing, yes, I love our resources, we have a ton. And I think what's even more important than the resources itself is just the fact that, you know, writing is not it's not just for English language arts teachers, right? It's not just for reading teachers are creative writing, teachers, everybody can write. And every everybody should write, and every classroom should have some sort of writing component to it. And so we have tons of ideas for using Book Creator across the curriculum. So yeah, that's definitely a great place to start.

Katie Ritter:

Yeah, and I want to kind of piggyback on Justin's question and dig a little bit deeper. Because I think from that coach perspective, I think a lot of times, you know, whether it's a coach or it's a building leader, right, like modeling these tools for educators can be super important. So are there creative ways that you have seen coaches or non classroom teachers use Book Creator? Whether it's like in a presentation or you know, to collect or whatever it may be? Can you could each of you maybe share something that you have seen from that non classroom teacher or student perspective? That's been kind of cool ways people are using Book Creator.

Jon Smith:

Yeah, for me, you know, that's, that's always like, my favorite thing, right? Is is what are the new ways that people are using Book Creator where the out of the box kind of thinking, you know, that people are using and, you know, I always love to have and like webinars, calm, stumped John webinars, right? Where it's like, you come up with something, and I'll show you how you can use Book Creator and like, just try to trick me, right, because it's not going to happen. Like I have a way to use it for everything. And so I think from a coaching standpoint, one thing that I started hearing recently, is teachers using Book Creator as their own portfolio. Right, so documenting their own learning, you know, what webinars have you attended? What was your learning from that? What? You know, what are your staff meetings look like? Can you have somebody videotape a lesson in your classroom, right, and put that into book crater and then do reflections on it? And that kind of stuff. So from a coaching standpoint, I think you can clearly use Book Creator as a way to document that learning process.

Lisa Kuhn:

And it's interesting because as a coach within my coaching cycles and coaching the teachers, I have not used Book Creator a whole heck of a lot for things like that. But one of the ideas that came to me mind as I was mulling this question over was, we're always trying to create Handbooks for teachers, handbooks for the building. Why not making a Book Creator? Book Creator is a book. So even thinking inside the box, you know, we're always trying to think outside the box. Let's think inside the box and use a book platform to create the handbook that we are trying to share with everybody. Yeah.

Jon Smith:

Absolutely. I remember I remember, when I was in alliance, I kind of laughed, because like, one of the first days on the job, like, you know, it was like your two, first day, you have your two. And all the special ed teachers are out in the library, right. And in comes the special ed director with like, like one of those like, like warehouse really carts with like a pallet of binders. And I'm like, I look out, I'm like, like, what is that? And they hand out the special ed binder. And it's like 18 inches thick. And I was like, What in the world is that? And they're like, this is our spent binder. And then then like to make matters worse, the the special ed director is like, Okay, can you please take out pages 100 through 150? Because they're outdated. So here's the packet that you can put in its place. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, there has to be a better way right to do this. So why not put all of the special ed requirements and forms and documents and things you need into a book so that you can send out one link? And nobody's going to the chiropractor, hearing their link? Right? to their next meeting? So like, like, I was like, Why? Why couldn't we do that? Right? newsletters, right? You know, open house, videos and documents and things like that. I have a school district that is using Book Creator for all their English language learners and families. So everything every time a new parent comes in, that doesn't speak English, they create a book in that parents language that gives them all the information that they need. You know, I'm waiting for a guidance counselor to create that. I forget what they're called. But like the course, the course. Yeah, of course, catalog next year. And so it's like, as a freshman, it's like, oh, what do I get to take in 10th grade, and they give you this PDF, that's 400 pages long. And all it says is Algebra Two. And it says like one sentence right now when I have the photo of the algebra two teacher, a video of a lesson, and like a commercial right for that algebra two teacher saying this way to take my class. And this is why that algebra two teachers not that good. So you should come in here. Like, let's have fun with this right? school doesn't have to stink, right? It should be fun. Oh, I

Katie Ritter:

love that you can even have like students talking about the class. That is

Jon Smith:

like, like buttons, right? I love it was AP. Reviews and the kids can see what they're getting into.

Katie Ritter:

I love it. Have either of you ever use Book Creator from a coach perspective, like presenting professional development to anyone?

Lisa Kuhn:

Yes. So I first use Book Creator to present myself, I created a little comic strip book, and presented me to bicycle. And then just recently animal resign Hart knive, we co collaborated on a presentation called a tale of two coaches. And so because it was based on a novel, we use Book Creator to create our own novel, and presented it at McCall this year. So

Jon Smith:

that was a lot of fun. I want to see that. Oh, by the way, that sounds super cool. Yeah, it was fun.

Lisa Kuhn:

On it's great, because you you can obviously put the text in there, which is what we did, we had, it was very text rich, for people who would want to read it again later to hear what we talked about. But we were able to embed other items and resources that were connected to the stories that we were telling. And that just as a huge plus to have those resources available.

Jon Smith:

That's awesome. It Well, one of the things that I did is we created a PD menu in Book Creator so that the teachers in our district knew what resources we had available, right? Because sometimes teachers don't know, right? They're like, well, we don't know that we have a crater, we don't know that we, you know, had a Padlet account or you know, like whatever, right? So, so we created a PDE menu that said, Here's here are the things as a tech integration team. These are the things that we can offer. Here's samples, you know, have completed work. And if any of this is interesting to you, come see us and we'll talk you through it.

Katie Ritter:

All right, amazing ideas.

Justin Thomas:

No, these are all amazing ideas. I'm trying to take notes on on the walls going on here.

Katie Ritter:

Go back and do it ourselves.

Lisa Kuhn:

Yes. So I was just thinking I'm harvesting. I'm planting my garden here and I'm gonna be harvesting many of these ideas.

Justin Thomas:

Oh, yeah. So let's say you got that garden planted. You got all these really good ideas and you're out here. Use As a teacher or as a coach you are sharing with teachers and helping them co teach with it. Are there any certifications that you can earn through Book Creator as a avid user of it?

Jon Smith:

Yeah, absolutely. So we have our Book Creator certified authors course, which is built right into the system. So once you've created an account, and you go to the teacher dashboard, there it is, it's it says certification, you can click on it. Right now, there's, there's 14 videos, and they're all minute and a half to seven minutes, I think at most, watch the videos, pass the quiz at the end, and then you become a certified author. And then you'll have like that deep understanding of how to use Book Creator. And I also say, get it done now, because we just revamped it. We've made all the videos for the revised version, so it's gonna be longer. So if you want, if you want shorter videos, do it. Because at the end of the month is gonna be like 25 videos, I think so. Just get it done. But no, it's what I like about it too, is I've actually had some teachers say to us things like, Well, do you have like videos for kids? Right? And most time, I'm like, no, because I don't think I said anything dumb enough. That requires me not to let a kid watch it. Right. I think if he could watch all the videos, it's fine. But we've actually had some teachers who actually do the certification in class with the students. So the teacher and the kids are learning together. It seems cool. I think it's, I think it's phenomenal.

Lisa Kuhn:

Yeah. Yeah, cuz I use that course, for some of the teachers. So I'm in five different buildings four days a week. So I'm not with all my teachers every day. So if I have a teacher, New Book Creator, I will send them to that course and say, Hey, go through this before we meet, it's not going to take you that long. But that way, they have a good understanding of the Book Creator so that when it comes time to plan the lesson and plan how we're going to use Book Creator in the lesson, they know what, what they're aiming for. And it's been a big, big help. Smart idea. Yeah.

Justin Thomas:

Awesome. Let's take a moment break here to hear from our sponsors.

Jon Smith:

I was for a second. I thought I was gonna have to say something.

Katie Ritter:

No, no. Put it in later. pre recorded.

Jon Smith:

Oh, good. I was like, Wait a minute. I was like, I was looking through my notes. I was like, Wait is that we're useless and say I'm on Slack. Shavon What am I supposed to say?

Katie Ritter:

Okay. All right. Welcome back, everybody. We are here on the restart recharge podcast, we are talking with John Smith from Book Creator. And Lisa Kuhn, one of the instructional design coaches here at forward edge about all of the amazing ways. So far, we just dug into so many ways, Justin and I are taking notes like crazy on our little show notes here about how we can use it as coaches and to help support our schools in a number of different ways. So we're gonna pivot a little bit from that coach perspective. And Lisa, you kind of teed it up really nicely for us to say with that last piece of advice about when you go to meet with a teacher, as a coach, that you'll send them the link to book creators amazing library of resources, so they can kind of dig in to explore it. And then you can play on lessons together. So we would love to hear about some of the coolest ways that you both have seen Book Creator used in the classroom and would love to maybe get kind of a wide span of like some different examples from like different content areas, different grade levels, to kind of help some coaches. If their brains aren't going on fire already, with all the ideas that have already been shared. Let's be sure to give them some good ideas so that they can take back to help support the teachers that they serve.

Lisa Kuhn:

Wonderful. So one of the first projects that I experienced here in my district was with a second grade teacher, she was working on historical figures, and Social Studies project. And she wanted a new way of presenting those historical figures. So we got those second graders into Book Creator. And she's now a third grade teacher who's still using it in many, many different ways. You know, a couple years later, probably the two most interesting ones, though, that I've experienced for actually with my high school English teachers. I had a pair of teachers who were teaching there, their eyes were watching that. And they always do their analytical essay. And the one teacher emailed me and said, Lisa, I am tired of reading essays. I need something different. And this is a very high standard teacher that you would not think in a million years would do something creative, like oh creator, she was always she and her partner. And so what we did is we created each Chapter was going to be one of those requirements from her analytical essay. So if she had a character analysis, that was one chapter, she had the symbols analysis, that was another chapter, the reflection that the students had. Each of those was a chapter in the Book Creator. And then they also have their title page, their table of contents, and so on. And she said, those were the best essays she's ever gotten. And part of that I think, was due to the fact that the students got to have that creative side, including visual or she had a couple of artistic students that drew the backgrounds to the pages, just some really amazing things that went into that. About a week later, I get an email from her husband, who's also an English teacher at the same high school. And he's like, my wife loved the book creator, can we use it with Shakespeare? Absolutely

Katie Ritter:

know, where we draw the line.

Jon Smith:

There. We said Book Three was fun, we stopped right there.

Lisa Kuhn:

Well, he ended up doing he wanted to do comic strips, where the students were rewriting a comic version of one of the plays that they had read. And so we did comic strip versions of a Midsummer's Night dream was one that they had to choose from, and Macbeth was the other I believe, and again, phenomenal work, because they had that creative option. So there was a lot of fun.

Katie Ritter:

I love it. And Lisa, if I could ask a follow up question, John, before we hear some of your examples. So you you talked about, like with second and third graders, and then with high school, high school? Yes. And I think something that that makes Book Creator, so amazing, is that it is so easy to use, no matter the age, which is like an awesome, like way to get our youngest kiddos into using technology and really authentic ways. But I'm just curious, because I know, like I have heard from some, like teachers of older students that think like, Oh, my students might not like this, because because they know that elementary students use it like was that a conversation that was had was that even something that was brought up once they saw what was available? And John, you might even be able to speak to that too, because I see you nodding your head. For those folks who cannot see John right now.

Jon Smith:

I keep thinking I'm on a webinar making motions like like, it doesn't matter. It could be in the bathroom right now. Nobody would care. You guys would. But the, you know, I think what's interesting about this is that that's probably the sweet spot, right of book crater. It at least in the minds of teachers and kids is elementary, right there like that. That's where book readers should be used. Right? And it's just not it's just wrong. Like, because it can it can be used for everything. And for me, like when I was talking with high school kids and high school teachers, you know, if I ever got pushed back, right, they were like, this, this looks simple, right? It feels like it does. It is simple, right? It's not hard to use, but don't confuse ease of use, for lack of rigor, right? Because there are so many ways you can use Book Creator. And if you're a 12th grader, and you make a book that looks like a kindergarten kid made it, maybe you could step your game up, right? Like Like, maybe you could make something better than that. And that's what I love about Book Creator and actually has made a note about this, too, is I think what makes book crater so awesome, right? In Lisa story where the kids were like, yes, we want to do this right? And then the husband was like, Yes, I want to do this because I see how excited my wife and her kids are right? I want this to what makes book crater so awesome, in my mind, and so easy is that it is it's self differentiating, right? It's self differentiating for kids. It's self differentiating for teachers. And so if you have a group of kids who can't spell, so what, right we have the speech to text. If you have kids who, you know, can't read, that's okay, because we have the play button and you can have the book read to you. There's there's so many accessibility features that anybody can use, right? Like that UDL lens, there's so many things that anybody can use that it does that it doesn't matter. And kids are going to figure this out, right. And one of my favorite examples of that kind of mentality is my own children. And so last year, was, I don't even know, maybe it was not whatever, right when they were all home, right with me? Well, I'm gonna do webinars that they're gonna run around the house. There was one day where I had enough and I was like, listen, like, just go get your iPads and here's what you're gonna do. And this will keep you busy for half an hour, right? Like as like, I want you to take 10 pictures around the house. And I want you to write a sentence and Book Creator and just tell me why you think why you took that picture, right? Like just something simple. Just go do this. And so my kids at the time were like 11, seven and four, right? And I was like, I they can do this. So my son who is 11 And he was like, Look, I can take pictures, I can write sentences, no big deal done. daughter who's seven, she's like, I can take pictures. I can write sentences, but it ain't gonna look pretty. So I'm going to use the speech to text, right? So they can help me spell it the right way done. My daughter who's four comes in, it's like, I can take pictures, I can put them into a book, but I can't spell. I can't type. And I don't really, you know, sometimes I don't speak real well, so the whole, you know, speech to texting doesn't work out so well. So she didn't use the audio record button. And they did this on their own, I don't have to tell them anything. They just figured out which tools they could use to show their learning. And I thought that was really fantastic. So that's what I think is really powerful. What keeps kids and teachers coming back? It's easy. It's self differentiating kids are gonna love it. Because they're authors. Right? When I'm making a presentation. They're authors of a book, which is just a whole different mindset. Right? It's just fantastic.

Lisa Kuhn:

Yeah, and I absolutely agree with all that. And to kind of go along with the original question to Katie, I didn't get many questions from the high school or pushback from my high school teachers, because I had a creative writing teacher and then a social studies teacher also dive right in and use that there was a country project where they were researching countries in the in the social studies class. But hold on. Sliding down my body. I think you might not be able to hear me after a while. Most of my questions actually came from the younger level teachers with is this going to work in my classroom, because I'm not an English teacher. And so what we now have is, I think, the second year for one and a third year for another, where third and fourth grade teachers are using it in their nonfiction lessons for science and social studies. So we've got students creating reports about natural disasters, and habitats. And it's been amazing, because like John mentioned, they find the tools that work for what they're trying to get across. And they're finding things that the teacher is going to did you know this distance? And I'm like, Oh, yeah. But you know, the kids are using them in amazing ways that we have not sat and taught them for 30 minutes or an hour, you know, they just go and they find it. It's wonderful.

Katie Ritter:

I love it. And I love like the little community that you're creating, too, with all of the different grade level examples and content area examples. And I'm sure that now that you've kind of started that sharing, some of those examples might even be helping get other teachers on board. So John would love to hear it, because we know that you see, you know, Pete books from classrooms all over the world, what are some of the coolest things that stick out in your mind for classroom projects?

Jon Smith:

Yeah. You know, for me, I love seeing from young kids especially right, especially kindergarten, preschool, because I think that, you know, generally speaking, people are like, preschool kids, kindergarten kids, they can't really write books, they can't, you know, like, that's difficult to do that kind of stuff. And again, it's just not. And I love seeing kids and what they create one of my favorites was a kindergarten class that I worked with years ago, where the teacher was they were talking about numbers, right? They're learning about numbers. And so the teacher was just like, hey, take your iPads go out in the hallway, find numbers all over the school. And so you've got a classic kindergarten kid who's running around the school taking pictures. And then coming back and put them into a book. So I see a five on the door, I see a seven by the drinking fountain, right, like this is and this is great stuff. So it's the kids are finding learning. So I love any book that does that, right? Where kids are taking the learning that they had in the classroom, and bringing it into the real world somewhere. Right. Like, I think that's awesome. My another favorite book that I remember seeing was an AP Euro yearbook. And so it was like, awesome, because it was like most likely to try to take over the world, right, like Adolf Hitler. Right? And so like, it had all these, like European, you know, important European figures and, and it kind of, like, transitioned it into what it would look like if there was a yearbook, right? So it's kind of like, if Hitler could tweet, right, like that kind of thing. Like, what would he be tweeting? And so it's like, a yearbook. Like for people around the world, what would it look like? So I think that's a really awesome one. One of the another one that I really enjoyed, and it's kind of shameless, I guess, self plug, but one of them was a group of autistic boys that I worked with. And the teacher warned me she's like, look, they're autistic. She's like, they got trouble writing. They've got social skills, issues, things like that. And I remember the very first time I met them, I came into the classroom and they came running into the classroom and they see me and they're like, oh, right, and like, put their head in the corner. Like, we're not talking to this guy who is this weirdo? Right? And I was like, no, no, listen, I was like, I heard that you guys are really bad at writing. The kids are like, Yeah, that's true. It's true. And I was like, I heard that you like really bad at social skills, which is like, why you're looking at your feet and not looking at me, right? And they're like, Yeah, that's true, right? That's like, so let's fix it. And so we end up writing a book all about social skills. And so it was really great. Because I was like, like, what are some social skills you guys are not good at and the teeth and they were just kind of like, I don't know. And I was like, in the teacher teachers, like, I got about 10. She's like, how about like, eye contact? Right? And I was like, Oh, okay. Yeah, I was like, so let's do a book, right? What's like, what's bad? Like, what's the wrong way to have eye contact? What's the right way to have eye contact? And the kids are like, Oh, this is cool. They're like, why don't we make a video of the wrong way? And I was like, do you just beat yourselves? I was like, just just just do what you normally do, because you're not looking at me now. Right? And they started laughing. And so we did this. But this book was so powerful, because they started getting downloads and other kids, like saw this, this transition without. And so these kids were like, Hey, you guys wrote a book. And they're like, yeah, and they were showing like, Where in the world it was downloaded. And it was awesome. Because these kids now started having friends in the general classroom that they probably would never have talked to before. And one of my favorites, though, had this I have to say that there's this other kid, his name is Zion. He comes into the the speech teacher and says, like, hey, it's like, Hey, Mrs. P. She's like, what he goes, I heard you writing a sequel to that the social skills book. And she's like, Yeah, we're right. And he goes, I can help. I got skills, right. And she's like, okay, so this kid was a Gen Ed kid, he showed up for speech every Wednesday at 1230. It's probably against the law. But he was like, an honorary Special Ed kid, right? He just showed up. And he worked with them to create the second volume. I mean, it was great. So just anything where kids are working together is fantastic. Collaborating together is awesome. Sharing their stories, working on things that they're not great at and trying to make them better. Those are my favorite comic books.

Katie Ritter:

Very cool.

Justin Thomas:

Those are great examples. I have example to I'm gonna toss in I, from one of my coaching cycles, I worked with the high school, multiple abilities teacher, and we're trying to kind of brainstorm of what were some challenges that you saw in his class? And he said, Well, my students were trying to start a writing a story, and they just aren't interested in writing the story. So I'm trying to find a way to kind of, you know, how to get them interested. I said, Well, why don't we use Book Creator. So I showed him what book creator was, and he was, he was blown away, he's like, this is gonna be awesome. So he told the students a little bit about it. And then I went into some co teaching with them on kind of some of the just the overall, just, you know, features and everything. And it instantly clicked for them. And they were excited to finish around the story, and then jump in and actually, like, illustrate the story, add the pictures, add the drawings, and really bring their story to life. So Book Creator came to save the day on that one as well. So he definitely enjoyed that.

Jon Smith:

Real quick, yeah, follow up with that. Like, I think for me, I was never really good. I was never a good reader. Right? When I was kid, I'm still not a great reader. I'm not a great writer. But I think what is awesome about, you know, book creators, if you do have kids, who are who say things like, I don't like to read, right? Well, that may not be true, you just haven't found the right book. Right? And if the right book isn't out there, then guess what? You can write it, you can write a book that you want to read. And I think that's really, I think that's a really powerful idea.

Justin Thomas:

I agreed. Well, John, every end of the podcast, we always ask, what are our top three tips from each of you? So why don't we dive into that? What are the top three tips for using Book Creator? Lisa, let's start with you.

Lisa Kuhn:

Okay, so my first tip actually comes from the teachers that I work with, they are scared to death to Western teach their students and themselves use the comic layout because they figure it's going to be all panels. So my first tip is to choose the comic layout because you have so many more editorial creativity options, than if you don't it doesn't mean you have to create a comic strip. You just have some creative options there. The second thing kind of goes along with a lot of what we've talked about today, flex those creative muscles. Think outside the box about how it can be used, you know, yeah, we want to think inside the box sometimes. But think outside the box. Like I love that. You know, what would these two historical people please? Oh my gosh, that is such a cool one. That's so awesome. I wish I had it when I was teaching French, because Napoleon I'm sure would have had some great ones. Marie Antoinette and Louis says so that's really the 16th Katie, just in case you didn't recognize the French. And then my last one is, subscribe to the newsletter and check out the weekly webinars. I know I personally do not have time to read everything in every newsletter or check out all the webinars on a daily basis. But the tips and tricks in there that I mean from even skimming when I don't have a chance to read the whole thing are incredible and get me headed a new direction. So definitely check those out. Awesome.

Jon Smith:

All right, let's see here, I didn't prep this one. So here's tip number one, get out of the way, your kids are going to come up with some awesome stuff, just get out of the way, right? Let them, let them do it, it's going to benefit you in the long run, because you're not going to have to read 25 of the exact same thing. You're going to have fun reading, right, you're going to enjoy what the kids have. And so that's tip number one, is just get out the way, let them figure stuff out, because I do a webinar called the Book Creator you never knew. And it's all like hidden tips and tricks and stuff within Book Creator. And honestly, 87% of the stuff that I teach in that webinar is stuff I learned from a second grader. So just get them get out of the way and let them figure it out. They're gonna love it, they're gonna have fun. And kind of to piggyback on that. Tip number two is give your kids a creative place to go outside of the assignment. All right. And so this is, this is an interesting one. So one of the things I get from teachers all the time is, hey, I thought I had 1000 books. And it's telling me that my library is full. Like, why I have 25 kids, why is my library full? Right? Why? Why can't they make any more books? Well, it's because your assignment is over. And the kids are so excited about Book Creator and making books that they're going back into your library and making books on their own time. And they filled your library with narratives and personal stories and all kinds of sorry, my phone's ringing, all kinds of I was hoping it didn't start ringing on the on the computer, there we go. So give them a creative space, right? If you have the chance, make an extra library for your kids. So they can go in and make their own books on their own time. And you can monitor it and see the cool stuff that they're doing. Right, just have fun with it. And then the third tip that I have is think, again, think about using Book Creator, not necessarily just as a writing tool, right, but think about it in lots of different ways. And so, you know, at least what spurred this thought is, you mentioned your foreign language teacher, I think you said French, right. So what I love about Book Creator is all of the accessibility features. So if I make a video, I can turn on captions, alright, which is really awesome. But one thing that a lot of people don't know is that you can do captions, and 120 different languages. So if I were to speak French, in my video, I can turn on captions in French. And so it will do the captions automatically with all the accent marks and all that good stuff. So I have my video with my French captions. However, if you think about a little differently, you could make your video in French have the French captions, or enter the captions manually in another language. So now it's like, it's like subtitles on Netflix. So now I've got my video, and I've got in French, and I've got English subtitles, right. And so you were vice versa, you have an English video with French subtitles. And so one of my foreign language teachers in alliance, she is Book Creator as her final exam. And so she put a book together where she was doing the speaking in French or Spanish. And then the kids had to add their own videos in replying to what she was asking them. And so that way she knew if they knew what they were doing. And so she used it as a performance kind of assessment for her final exam. So get out of the way. Give the kids a place to kind of play around and do some stuff. And then check out like the accessibility features because they're awesome.

Katie Ritter:

Those are excellent tips in John, I don't know if you're ready to share this based on our conversation before we hit the record button. But would you like to share your latest social media that you have? listeners can follow?

Jon Smith:

Yeah, absolutely. Because I'm desperate for followers. So I have been a Twitter person for as long as long as I can remember. And that's where I'm that's where I float. Right? That's kind of my comfort zone. I don't have Facebook, I have Instagram just so I can look at people's clean cars. Like that's kind of it right? I don't really do a whole lot. But I was I was playing around with it. And I was nervous because I'm old. And I wasn't sure I should do this. But I did create a tic tock account. And so I have come up with a brand new segment on tick tock, I think I'm gonna claim it until somebody else does. But I have on tick tock the brand new book creator tick tock in ours, right. So these are like 15 Second 45 Second webinars because that's all that we can handle right now. And so they're just quick webinars with tips and tricks and ideas. So if you're on Tik Tok, yeah, it's the same as Twitter, the iPod teacher, you will be the first follower if you get on there right now, because nobody follows me. But it's fun and I'm just trying to figure out ways to get people excited about Book Creator and so Book Creator tick tock and ours with me and Charles the cow, which is not gonna make any sense to anybody who might not.

Katie Ritter:

Well, to Explain, John has a picture of a cow behind his head

Jon Smith:

while it's strategically placed so that the cow ears in my head, which is a really interesting conversation when you're trying to sell a book creator.

Katie Ritter:

Yeah, I was going to tell you that after we were done recording, I figured you knew, but I was just going to make sure that I wasn't losing.

Jon Smith:

That's probably a story for after the record button stops, and I'll be happy to share. It's about

Katie Ritter:

looking forward to Yeah, well, guys, I know Lisa's computer's about to restart on her. And that brings us to the end here. So thank you both so much for being on I do just want to give, you know, an extra shout out for Book Creator here. You know, they, they are a sponsor for our coaches camps that we are offering this summer for instructional coach training. And they have just been wonderful. So they've got some giveaways for all of the attendees. And they are one of the reasons that we were able to bring the cost down for attendees as well too. So just want to say thank you and kind of in the spirit of, you know, only working with what you believe in, you know, we only reached out to companies and organizations that we believe in here and our work and use regularly to partner with four coaches camp so we were thrilled that you guys saw the value as well. So we're really excited about the opportunity to work with Book Creator for our coaches camp this summer.

Justin Thomas:

And once again, our podcast in all caps if you want that $50 off there as well. Well, it sounds like Lisa's computer's getting ready to restart and recharged Yeah. See what I did they're not affected so we'll just do it, you know in person here but as a friendly reminder, two weeks the next episode is going to drop so make sure that you are in tune for that a special thank you to both John Smith and Lisa Kuhn for joining us here on this episode. Thank you once again. Oh thanks for

Katie Ritter:

absolutely yep, this was great. So be sure to subscribe to restart recharge wherever you listen to pod pod casts and follow us on twitter instagram and facebook at our our coach cast and if you're thinking about it, we would love a rating and review to help other coaches find the podcast

Justin Thomas:

yes please and if you have any topics that are on your mind that you would like us to talk about please feel free to reach out to us and let us know what those topics.

Katie Ritter:

will send you some social media graphics on advertising. But yeah, so that it'll be it'll air may 24 And thank you so much