According to English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide (2021), our objectives for primary English education are to “provide students with learning experiences to increase their language proficiency for study, work, leisure and personal enrichment; develop their knowledge, skills, values and attitudes; and promote lifelong learning so as to enhance their personal and intellectual development, cultural understanding and global competitiveness.” However, it is usually difficult to address all the objectives when teaching primary learners English. One workaround is to offer young learners books enriched with meaningful and authentic context. Therefore, the choice of books becomes increasingly important when it comes to primary English education. To choose books that are most appropriate for our students, it is essential to consider how interesting they are, how helpful they are and how interactive they are.
Traditional books, such as mystery and fantasy often attract most attention from their readers as they tend to create interesting experience that motivates readers to read more. However, these books are not very helpful to our students compared to textbooks, which are often seen in the language learning classroom. Unlike traditional books, textbooks are designed to provide a targeted, systematic and comprehensive approach to language learning, though they often deprive students of interest and convert students into passive readers. Apart from traditional books and textbooks, interactive books can also be regarded as “good” books, as they provide opportunities for our students to practice English when interacting with authors, characters or even other readers.
Early interactive books are printed books that engage readers in a variety of ways, such as using second-person language, breaking the fourth wall and adding extra-textual features of books. Other interactive books are digital books that emerge with the development of technology and become increasingly influential in language learning. This type of books is usually presented with interesting content, meaningful interaction and appropriate integration of technology. It is best aligned with the innovative framework TPACK, that is, content knowledge (CK), pedagogical knowledge (PK) and technological knowledge (TK). However, you as teachers should learn how to balance CK, PK and TK when using digital books in your classroom and one easy way to get started is with our CARE Books project.
CARE Books Concept
Interactive books, either physical books or digital books, can not only provide interactive reading experience but also engage and support our students in their learning process. For example, both physical and digital books have enjoyable stories and extended activities to engage students’ interest and meanwhile support their learning with relevant, meaningful and authentic language. However, e-books have two features that are hard to be found in print books: 1) additional support from multimedia components, such as images, audios and videos and 2) multimodal interaction, including reading and listening to the story over and over again, clicking on a word to find definition or pronunciation, clicking on an object to view animation videos and choosing a story both relevant to learners’ personal experiences and appropriate to the level of their language proficiency.
The differences between e-books and print books recognize e-books as learning material that is more favorable to primary English education, as the multimedia elements add another dimension to students’ reading experience and give additional support for word recognition and reading comprehension. Moreover, e-books can engage every student in the classroom, including reluctant and older readers and meanwhile cater for learner diversity in terms of students’ reading abilities and the pace of their reading. However, e-books are not always ideal to our children compared to print books, as e-books might distract readers with irrelevant multimedia or even bombard them with overwhelming online resources. Unlike e-books, print books are more useful in nurturing students’ reading habits, creating warm shared reading environment and protecting students from screen fatigue and blurred vision.
Since both physical and digital books have their own advantages and disadvantages, our CARE Books project, which stands for Creative Augmented Reality Electronic Books, provides both physical copies and online copies of a book so that you do not need to struggle between print books and e-books. For the physical version of our CARE books, your students can flip the pages to read and scan the QR code to access the audio and video of the story in Augmented Reality. While for another version of our CARE books, students can visit our multimodal platform here to read the story online and access audios, videos and follow-up learning activities so as to practice their reading, speaking, listening and comprehension skills. We have recently released our very first CARE book “Have You Seen My Mooncakes?” and the complete introduction of the book has been presented below for you and your students.
First CARE Book
“Have You Seen My Mooncakes” is a story written by our former colleague Mr Sterling Wu. The story is about a family who plan to enjoy mooncakes together on Mid-Autumn Festival. It is later edited to cater for the needs of our primary learners at home or in the classroom. As teachers, you can use this book to connect with students’ own experiences, develop their confidence to express themselves in context, practice their comprehension skills as well as communicative skills and evaluate their language abilities without scaring them away from making mistakes. For language focus, your options might include: simple present tense, simple past tense, present continuous tense, present perfect tense, wh-questions, alternative questions, imperative sentences, exclamatory sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, conditional sentences and direct speech.
|Target||primary 1-2 English learners|
|Topics||colors, festivals, family relations|
To connect with students’ own experiences;
To develop their confidence to express themselves in context;
To practice their comprehension skills as well as communicative skills;
To evaluate their language abilities without scaring them away from making mistakes
|Language Focus||simple present tense, simple past tense, present continuous tense, present perfect tense, wh-questions, alternative questions, imperative sentences, exclamatory sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, conditional sentences, direct speech|
When reading the print book for the first time, the Flipgrid app should be installed to your phones or tablets. It is a video-based platform that allows you to create, share and discuss videos with your students and colleagues. When using Flipgrid from a phone or tablet, you will be able to enjoy a fascinating reading environment that is enhanced by its augmented reality feature: FlipgridAR. To install the Flipgrid app, you can either click here to visit your App Store or here to your Google Play. After it is installed to your device, you can use the app to scan the QR code placed on every two pages of the book. In just a few seconds, you will be greeted with an animation video right in your physical world as shown in the video below.
(Teacher reading the physical CARE book)
The CARE Books online reading platform is currently hosted here on our eTeachers.Online website. Almost every two pages of the e-book come with a narration audio, an animation video and a follow-up question of the current page content. At the end of the e-book, there will be a page of extra questions for students to practice and learn more. These questions are created with H5P, an open source content creation and sharing platform. Most H5P questions found in our e-book platform are Speak the Words, Single Choice, Multiple Choice, Find the Hotspot, Find Multiple Hotspots, Image Sequencing, Drag and Drop and Drag the Words.
(Teacher reading the CARE book online)
CARE Book Pilot
However, neither print edition nor e-book edition of our first CARE Book “Have You Seen My Mooncakes?” has been tried out in an English classroom to see how it really works in authentic teaching and learning contexts. Therefore, we decided to conduct two pilots, including print edition pilot and e-book edition pilot in local primary schools to evaluate and compare students’ experience in using print edition and e-book edition. Both pilot lessons were a 70-minute double lesson, designed, taught and recorded by our colleagues at Sung Tak Wong Kin Sheung Memorial School on 9th July 2021. The print edition pilot involved 24 primary 2 young learners, while the e-book edition pilot targeted 25 primary 3 higher achievers. All participating students would be required to complete an assessment sheet before and after the pilot lesson to check how much they have learnt from the taught lesson.
|Pilot School||Sung Tak Wong Kin Sheung Memorial School|
|Pilot Date||9th July 2021 (Friday)|
|Lesson Length||70 Minutes (Double Lesson)|
24 P2 Students
25 P3 Students
|Editions to be Tested||
Print Edition for P2 Students
E-book Edition for P3 Students
|Pre-assessment Sheets||View P2 Pre-assessment Sheet Here||View P3 Pre-assessment Sheet Here|
|Post-assessment Sheets||View P2 Post-assessment Sheet Here||View P3 Post-assessment Sheet Here|
Print Edition Pilot – P2 Class
To activate students’ schemata, students were first guided to answer questions about Mid-Autumn Festival, colors and family members through pictures and the book cover. Before reading the book together, students were also asked to predict the story based on the book cover and learn some vocabularies, necessary for understanding the story. When students were prepared for their reading experience with the book, the teacher then introduced the Flipgrid app to students and demonstrated how to scan a QR code to watch an animation video with FlipgridAR. After the shared reading, students were allowed to read the story on their own while the teacher walked around the classroom to support them if needed. Finally, when most students had finished their reading, students were encouraged to answer some comprehension and vocabulary questions to consolidate their learning.
You can view and download the presentation slides of this pilot lesson here.
(Ms Annie Yung teaching P2 students with the CARE book print edition)
E-book Edition Pilot – P3 Class
To get started, the teacher introduced the learning objectives of this pilot lesson, that is, to read the story of the e-book and to learn some new vocabularies together. Once students were prepared for what was going to happen in the class, the teacher then guided students to notice family members and mooncakes’ colors from the book cover. All vocabularies related to ‘family members’ and ‘mooncakes’ colors’ were written on the board and students were encouraged to add to the vocabulary list of ‘family members’ and ‘colors’. Based on what’s written on the board, the teacher then invited students to predict the story by making connection between ‘family members’ and ‘favorite colors’. Also, students need to ask themselves two questions when reading and be ready to answer those questions after reading. Instead of reading alone, the teacher guided students to read the first few pages of the e-book and then gradually included narration audios and animation videos into their reading process. As soon as students were familiar with the audios and videos, the teacher then specified how to use the online reading platform and also how to complete the follow-up activities on the platform. After finishing reading the e-book and completing the activities, students were asked to answer the two questions assigned before their reading as the final practice of the lesson.
You can view and download the presentation slides of this pilot lesson here.
(Ms Grace Wang teaching P3 students with the CARE book e-book edition)
CARE Book Pilot Data
Print Edition Pilot – Data Analysis
Based on the survey results, the majority of the students enjoyed reading English books (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.1) and more than half of them read at least three days a week (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.2). Some preferred either e-books or printed books, but most of them liked both types of books (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.3). For e-book supporters, some thought e-books were environment-friendly and convenient, while for students who preferred printed books, they had difficulty in using e-books or digital device (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.4). For students who fancied both types of books, they found e-books and printed books equally interesting (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.4). Before reading the CARE book “Have You Seen My Mooncakes?”, about half of the students had basic vocabulary knowledge about family relations, festival and colors, as they were able to match words (forms) with the corresponding images (meaning) (Pre-assessment Question No.5, No.6). However, when they needed to complete sentences using the vocabulary they had seen in the book (Post-assessment Question No.8), their responses were less accurate, implying that their vocabulary knowledge might be in word level, not sentence level. In other words, they might know the meaning of the words, but not the application of the words. Also, when asked to list as many colors as they know (Post-assessment Question No.7), they could only list few that were not mentioned in the story, showing that their word bank is relatively limited. This might also explain why one fourth of them failed the reading comprehension question which required them to match characters with their favorite colors (Post-assessment Question No.5).
E-book Edition Pilot – Data Analysis
After reading the CARE book “Have You Seen My Mooncakes?”, students who liked reading English books had increased from 36% to 56% (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.1) and more students were converted to e-book supporters (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.3). Some believed e-books were convenient, user-friendly, interesting and easy to access (Pre-assessment Question No.4) and more values, such as free of charge, were found and added to the list after their reading (Post-assessment Question No.4). Though there were also some students who opposed that e-books were difficult to access and might damage their eyesight (Pre-assessment Question No.4), same reasons were less provided to support printed books in post-reading assessment (Post-assessment Question No.4). In addition, there were some students who chose print books over e-books because they felt the font size of the print books was usually big, easier to read, which indicated that they might not be equipped with enough IT knowledge to support their digital reading experience (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.4). For the reading comprehension part (Post-assessment Question No.5), all students had given correct responses, meaning that students had fully understood the relationship between the characters and their favorite colors. When it comes to vocabulary questions (Pre-assessment Question No.5, No.6), they seemed to know more words related to festival and colors than family relations, but most spelling errors, such as “moon cake”, “yellcw”, and “moom” were also found to be related to festival and colors. Fortunately, those mistakes were much less seen in the post-reading stage (Post-assessment Question No.8) and students were able to name quite a number of colors that were not covered in the story to showcase their vocabulary knowledge about colors (Post-assessment Question No.7).
Print Edition Pilot Vs E-book Edition Pilot
Although less P3 students enjoyed reading English books compared to P2 students, the number of P3 students who liked English books actually increased after they read the e-book (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.1). Moreover, more P3 students were converted to e-book lovers after reading the story online, while the survey results gathered from P2 students showed minor changes only (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.3). In the meanwhile, more reasons were given from P3 learners to justify why they favored e-book rather than print books which received more support in the pre-assessment stage instead (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.4). On the contrary, there was not much difference in supporting either print books or e-books before and after reading the story for P2 readers (Pre-/Post-assessment Question No.4). It suggested that students were better engaged in e-books and this might also help explain why their interest towards English books was increased after their online reading experience. When it comes to the content of the story, 100% of the e-book pilot participants gave correct responses to the comprehension question, whereas 33% of the print book respondents failed the same question (Post-assessment Question No.5). It indicated that P3 students had better idea of what the story was about and this might has to do with the level of their vocabulary knowledge. For example, results showed that P3 students were able to list more colors than P2 students, though both group of students had more or less spelling errors (Post-assessment Question No.7). Although it appeared that more correct responses to the previous vocabulary question on family members were reported from P2 students rather than P3 students (Pre-assessment Question No.5), the question assigned to P3 students actually required more consolidate vocabulary knowledge than the corresponding question asked in P2 students’ assessment sheet.
Reflection and Indication
Results showed that the first CARE Book “Have You Seen My Mooncakes?” were able to maintain students’ interest towards English reading with its printed copies and increase students’ interest in reading English books after students read it online. However, unlike e-books that are hosted on the reading platform with interactive online activities, students who have physical copies of the book need additional support from the teacher to help them understand the story. Also, as some of the students preferred printed books to e-books because of the lack of IT skills, it is important for the teacher to pre-teach students how to exploit the CARE Book online reading platform. While for students who fully understand the story and have enough IT skills, the teacher could take more class time in meaningful discussions or interactive activities with students to enrich and extend their learning experience. Moreover, regardless of the version the teacher is using, attention should be drawn to students’ spelling so that their vocabulary knowledge in domains like family members, colors and festivals could be consolidated.
In conclusion, the first CARE Book “Have You Seen My Mooncake?” could be very helpful to engage your students’ reading in English. You could integrate the CARE Book however you like and explore the story with your students as you please.
In the future, we will upgrade the printed version of our CARE Books with a 3D AR feature that could turn your students’ reading journey into an adventure. For the online platform that hosts our CARE books and follow-up activities, a reporting feature will also be available to help you track your students’ performance.
So far, we have just created our first CARE Books story “Have You Seen My Mooncakes?” and we would like to invite you and your students to write your own CARE Books stories in a Hong Kong wide story-writing competition soon. If you do not want your stories to be public, that is also fine. An e-book authoring tool will be integrated into our CARE Books reading platform so that you and your students will be able to create your own stories online with minimum knowledge about technology.
Currently, we are still polishing our first CARE Books “Have You Seen My Mooncakes?”. If you would also like to reserve a CARE Book pilot in your school or get informed about our CARE Books updates, please kindly fill in the contact form below. We are happy to get in touch with you. If you have any comments or suggestions about our CARE Book project, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any feedback from you is valuable and will always be appreciated. Thank you!