EdTech 541: Content Choice Actvity #1

Jen Crook Content Area Choice 1 EBook

Jen Crook – EdTech 541

Content Area Choice 1: EBook

Over the next 3 Content Area Choice lessons, I will be combining my content area of 3rd to 5th grade language arts/writing with other curriculum content areas. As per 4th grade Common Core State Standards, students study the Oregon Trail extensively. All 3 of my Content Area Choice activities will include the Oregon Trail as the central theme. I will connect my focus of language arts with other content areas. Content Area Choice #1 is the creation of an eBook which further explores language arts curriculum. I chose to explore and use MixBook.com as the eBook creator tool.

I explored other possible eBook creation tools and didn’t feel they were as user-friendly as I had hoped. Storybird.com, while looked promising does not allow for uploading of personal art or photos which did not fit the purpose of this assignment as the Oregon Trail is rich in primary source documents and photographs. Storybird.com is designed to be a “story starter” to use with the site’s existing artwork.

Storyjumper.com looked like a lot of fun for story creating as well. Students could spend a lot of time putting parts and pieces of the artwork together to form their own story illustrations. Photos can be uploaded into Storyjumper. I had a few problems playing with the tool as it was quite buggy and gave me “sorry we are experiencing technical difficulties” types of messages. After playing and attempting to make it into a journal, I quit because of some of the glitches. Perhaps the paid versions was less buggy.

BookRix.com looked very promising until it was time to share the finished eBook. After sharing the link, with another family member, it was determined that the individual wanting to view the eBook needed to have account username and password to view it. It looked like there were some paid upgrades available.

Although the class syllabus link says that Blurb.com and Lulu.com are acceptable, they are both eBook publishers where .PDF documents or Word documents can be simply uploaded and made into an eBook. I have used both programs before and eBooks do cost a nominal fee for the initial download. Blurb and Lulu are not as user-friendly for young children. I have used both tools often and still find myself frustrated with the process so it simply wouldn’t be a good resource for 4th graders.


Mixbook - Create stunning photo books, cards and calendars! | Design your own Photo Book with Mixbook’s easy online editor.

Oregon Trail: Ebook Diary

Students will be participating in a daily Oregon Trail simulation activity that will span 6-8 weeks or longer if needed. This eBook journal activity will be divided into 4 learning activities. The actual eBook will be created during the third learning activity and added to weekly as students transcribe their handwritten diaries from their composition notebook to Mixbook. Teacher’s note: This lesson was designed for use on a PC but simple modifications can make it easily work on an iPad.

The full Meunier & Hamby (n.d.) Oregon Trail simulation activity can be found HERE.

Learner Description: Learners are 4th grade students learning about the Oregon Trail through a variety of daily activities.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Students should already know how to save and access folders on their flashdrives. Students should have already set up an account, accessed, and created a simple sample eBook in MixBook.com. Students should be familiar with the MixBook navigation tools and how to upload photos from a flashdrive folder to the MixBook creator.

Prior to starting the Oregon Trail simulation activity, the teacher should read aloud “Westward to Home: Joshua’s Oregon Trail Diary: Book One.” This book will introduce the Oregon Trail and how it affected children traveling. This eBook activity will reinforce the concept of reading and writing in the first person.

Activity 1: Find and Reference Photos

Giving proper credit to photos used from the Internet is an important skill for children to learn. Photos belong to another person and they must create an appropriate reference. At the end of this activity students will be able to save images from the Internet and reference them correctly. Students will understand that they can’t just copy images from the Internet because they don’t belong to us. For 4th grade students it is expected that they will be able to create an image reference with the author, title, and website URL.

  • Students will be able to save images to their individual flashdrives and post references in a Word document.
  • Students will be able to reference images with the author, title, and website URL.
Activity Directions
  • Teacher will model all steps of this activity on the whiteboard/SmartBoard
  • As per the rubric, for the final eBook activity, students will be required to have 5 images (photos) and 1 map from the Oregon Trail for their eBook diary.
  • Review and create a new Word document titled [Name]: Oregon Trail References saved on the flashdrives.
  • Review and create a new folder on the fashdrives specifically for the images they will save and download.
  • Teacher will model on the first photo how to navigate to Wikimedia or another appropriate site for photos related to the Oregon Trail, preferably from primary source documents. Students will follow along on their own PC.
  • Right click on the image and choose “save image” with the destination as their created folder on the flashdrive.
  • Teacher will model how to copy and paste the URL into the Word document reference.
  • Teacher will model how to create a proper reference for the image they chose. Each reference or citation should include author, title, and website (see example below).
  • Students will independently repeat this process until they have at least 5 photos.
  • Students will also find a map of the Oregon Trail and copy, paste, and reference the map the same way as photo references.

Gary Halvorson, Covered Wagon, retrieved from http://bit.ly/1MVH1OK

Activity 2: Journal Writing

As students move along the Oregon Trail in the class simulation activity, they will be expected to keep a journal or a diary. Students will be writing in this diary almost daily so they must become familiar with items that need to be included in their own diary.

  • Students will be able to identify the critical aspects of a journal entry including the “who-what-when-where” as well as any interesting activities that happened that day.
Activity Directions
  • Teachers will remind students of the journal of Joshua in the Westward Home book.
  • As a class discussion, teachers and students will discuss what things might be good to include in a diary.
  • As per the rubric, students will be required to record the “who-what-when-where” of the trail activities. This means recording the date, where they are on the trail, who is with them, and anything that happened on the trail that day.
  • Give students paper/digital copy of excerpts from a diary from the Oregon Trail.
  • As a class, ask students to highlight the “who-what-when-where” and any other interesting events that happened from the day’s activities on the trail.
  • Remind students that these facts are important to add to a diary and why.
  • Students will be writing daily during their journey on the Oregon Trail in their physical journal (composition notebook).

Activity 3: eBook Creation

An eBook has many great advantages. Students will be publishing their eBook diaries to the Class Edmodo site at the end of the Oregon Trail simulation. Parents and other students will be able to review each others’ eBooks at the completion of this project. eBooks are a great platform for sharing content and research. This portion of the project will take several weeks and carry on through the entire Oregon Trail Simulation activity.

    • Students will transcribe their written content (from their composition notebook journals) to their individual eBook.
    • Students will recall the elements of the rubric, 5 photos, 1 map, at least 10 dated journal entries and in proper journal format.
    • Students will reference all photos correctly.
Activity Directions
      • Teacher will review all aspects of the rubric (see “EBook Rubric” below).
      • Teacher will demonstrate a review of all steps of the MixBook eBook creator on the whiteboard/SmartBoard while students are working simultaneously.
      • Students will log in to their own MixBook account.
      • Students will click on “New Project,” then “Photo Book.”
      • Click on “Blank Canvas,” then “Start Book.”
      • Student can use any theme or layout they would like that helps them tell their story from the trail.
      • Weekly, or more often if possible, students transcribe the handwritten journal to the MixBook creator.
      • Students may download more photos (and references) if needed.
      • Be sure to add a title, author, and photo on the cover
      • Create a “Reference” list for the photo credits on the last page of the eBook.
      • Copy and past the references from the Word document to the “Reference list at the end of the eBook.
      • The book should include a map of the Oregon Trail somewhere.
      • Rename the book from “Blank Canvas” to “[Student’s Name]: An Oregon Trail Diary.”
      • Save eBook at the end of each session.

Activity 4: Post eBook to Edmodo

Edmodo is a social networking site similar to Facebook but safe and secure for younger users. Students should already have an account and be familiar with how to embed/post content.

        Students will:

      • Log in to Mrs. Crook’s Edmodo classroom.
      • Post an embedded link to the eBook.
      • Comment on 3 other students’ eBooks


      • Internet enabled PC
      • Composition notebooks
      • Read aloud books

EBook Rubric

Students will be grade on the eBook activity by including all of the following:

      • At least 5 photos and 1 map.
      • All photos are properly referenced on the last page (author, title, and website).
      • At least 10 journal entries with date as the heading.
      • Title, author (self), and photo on the cover.
      • Journal entries include “who-what-when-where” and any other interesting details from the trail experience.
      • Publish final eBook copy and embed the link on class Edmodo site.
      • Comment on at least 3 other student’s eBooks.

English Language Arts Standards – Writing -Grade 4

Text Types and Purposes


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.


Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.


Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.


Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.


Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.


Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Production and Distribution of Writing


With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.


With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge


Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.


Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


(n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.blm.gov/or/oregontrail/files/TBKS_opt.pdf

Allabout. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.america101.us/trail/Allabout.html

English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Literature » Grade 4. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/4/

Gingerich, J. (2009, February, 13). Oregon trail documentary [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4usTzaGP98

Meunier, A., & Hamby, S. (n.d.). Oregon Trail. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.medford.k12.or.us/Files/Unit_5_Oregon_Trail.pdf

Scott, A. (n.d.). Journal of a trip to Oregon By Abigail Jane Scott. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://cateweb.uoregon.edu/duniway/notes/DiaryProof1.html

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.blm.gov/or/oregontrail/education-kids-trail.php

Photo Credits (in the order they appear in the eBook)

Cover: Colored Oregon Trail artwork retrieved from http://bit.ly/1C2FfaT

Page 2: Pioneer Family photo retrieved from http://bit.ly/1FMpk1J

Page 4: Ferrys retrieved from http://bit.ly/1DDD8fF

Page 5: Wash and ironing day retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/HNS/domwest/mcauley.html

Page 6: Death on the trail retrieved from http://bit.ly/1MOICWx

Page 7: Pawnee chief photo retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/HNS/domwest/mcauley.html

Page 8: Buffalo chips retrieved from http://bit.ly/1bjvXgF

Page 9: Chimney Rock retrieved from http://bit.ly/1DDFrzx

Page 10: Fort Laramie retrieved from http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/ftlar1845.jpg

Page 11: Independence Rock retrieved from http://bit.ly/19E7wtN

Page 13: Green River retrieved from http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdemo/images/big/greenrivercrossing.jpg

Page 14: Indians on the Oregon Trail retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/IGUIDE/or-pa7.GIF

Page 15: Bear River Valley retrieved from http://media-3.web.britannica.com/eb-media/22/144822-004-04374500.jpg

Page 16: Overturned Wagon retrieved from http://bit.ly/1bjscaY

Page 18: Fort Boise retrieved from http://www.historyglobe.com/ot/photos/fortboise.jpg

Page 19: Oregon City Willamette River retrieved from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Oregon_City_and_Willamette_Falls,_1867.jpg

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