Using Picture Books to Teach Tech

It does not matter how high tech the world gets, I firmly believe that there is no greater teaching tool than a picture book.  A good picture book, in it’s simplicity, opens up our minds and allows us to see things in a different light.  It is the ultimate springboard for conversation about different viewpoints and perspectives.  That is why throughout my teaching career picture books have always been my ‘go to’ tool at any grade level and for any topic.  It is no wonder then that in the past year as a tech teacher I have relied heavily on my trusted, tried and true picture books to start many conversations and provide ideas for the tech projects we have worked on.

I want to share a few of the picture books that I used last year in my capacity as an Instructional Technology teacher that have inspired me and my students.

1.  I started the year off with reading The Computer Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler:

black lagoon

This book is a great introduction to many of the different computer and technology terms students need to be familiar with when using computers; such as mouse, monitor, Internet, virus, menu, window, etc.

2.  My greatest discovery last year has been Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (love the ironic but oh so clever pen name):

Modeled on the classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, this book offers a more updated list of tech terms to discuss, such as screensaver, LCD, WiFi, HDTV, Blackberry, Facebook, viral, e-mails, Tweets.

3.  One of my favourite picture books of all time is Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews:

ten black dots

I have used it in the past to introduce many concepts in math, art, and language. Last year I have read this book to my grade 3 classes during our technology period.  As I read, my students enjoyed predicting what could be made using the different  number of dots, each coming up with a unique idea.

This sparked a  discussion about the value of different perspectives, as students could now see  the dots in a new way and as part of a picture that others’ imagined.  It wasn’t  important to get the ‘right’ answer, but to come up with creative ways to  incorporate the dots into their environment.

After we finished reading  the book, students were wondering about other shapes, and if they could create  pictures with them.  I suggested that we make our own book using a different  shape.

After a discussion about what shape we should use, the class decided on squares.  The book starts with, “What can you do with ten black dots?” so we changed the  question to “What can you do with ten black squares?” and students began  working.

Usually, I ask my students to write text first, and then create  an illustration. However, for this task the reverse seemed more logical.  So  instead of choosing a number first, I asked students to draw an image that  contained squares and see where that would lead them.

Each student used  Pixie to  create their illustrations. They created two different pages to give us more  choices for the final version of our class book.

Students then had to  write a matching sentence that described their illustration and followed the  pattern from the book we were inspired by (# black squares can make….).  We  choose not to make the two pages for each number rhyme like they do in the book  because each student created a page for two different numbers.  When students  were finished I asked them to create a title page for the book.  Since we had a  few title pages to choose from, the class voted for their favorite.

Here is our final product:

Ten Black Squares

Here is another class’ book about triangles:

Ten Black Triangles

4.  Another one of my favouries is Red is Best by Kathy Stinson:

red is best

In this book a child and her mother’s perspectives collide as they disagree on what the girl should wear and the reasons for their choices.  This book is great for teaching perspective and voice.  For our book inspired by Red is Best, students were asked to choose a personal object of significance and describe the emotional (versus practical) reasons for why it is important to them. Here are a couple of our finished books:

Colour that is Best

Colours that are Best

By using picture books as a starting point for discussion and as inspiration last year students were able to learn many different computer skills within a familiar and fun context.  They had many great ideas for their pages and felt free to experiment with the different features of the programs in order to achieve just the right effects for their own page.  Everyone was very excited to see the final products and read what each student has come up with.

Have you used any other picture books as a teaching tool in computers class?  Have any other picture books inspired you and your students to create your own digital books?  I would love to get your feedback and some new ideas for next year.


Posted on July 31, 2013, in Ed Tech, Picture Books and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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