Friday, 11 May 2012

My Dream for Education Has Come True

Today was an exciting day for me. My school hosted a press conference to celebrate the publishing of Keily's book 'Chen Chen Goes to Space' to the iBookstore. Keily Setiawan is only nine years old and is in Grade 4. I worked with Keily over several weeks in her Mandarin classes to create an iBook. When we first sent it to the iBookstore it was rejected as the iBookstore doesn't support Chinese script.

We were so disappointed but Keily suggested to make her book bilingual and add English. I had asked Apple Singapore if there were any books in the iBookstore that were in Chinese and found out that the ones that were there were bilingual.

So we revised the book.

Actually it made the book become better. We realize that Keily is probably the first child in the world to publish in English and Chinese. Download Keily's book here.

My school sent out an infobyte (newsletter) to the school community to announce Keily's achievement.

The next day I was approached by a Grade 11 student. Her name is Nahyeon Kim. Nahyeon is a very talented artist. She told me that she made a book last year for her personal project. This book was hand painted entirely by her. Nahyeon's dream is to become a graphic artist. I persuaded her to add voice recordings to each page to make the book more accessible for young children.

She agreed.

On Wednesday we uploaded the book to the iTunes iBookstore. Both students had to ask their parents to come to school to work with me to create iTunes Connect accounts as you need a credit card as a part of the verifying process. Keily is actually under age and Nahyeon doesn't have her own credit card.

Late last night I received the news that Nahyeon's book had been published. It was uploaded on Wednesday and published late Thursday night by Apple. That's the fastest I'd ever heard of getting a book published!!! Download her book, 'Threescoop's Snowy Adventure' here.

Previously Nahyeon had tried to publish her book. It was too expensive to pay for a print run. She had shared the process on her blog - but that is not the same as being officially published to the world in an online bookstore.

Today I presented these books by Keily and Nahyeon and 12 other exemplary books to the press. We had about 30 reporters come to school. Actually I have about 70 books that have been made by students. Today we wanted to show just a short range of books made by students from Kindergarten to Grade 11.

Tonight I sit and reflect upon this week of meeting the press and getting books ready for publishing. I remember it was about 4 years ago that I had an interview with The Jakarta Globe. Read the article here. I had met with the Globe having just presented at the 2008 Indonesian Teachers Congress in Jakarta. My presentation was about the power of digital storytelling. I presented entirely in Indonesian.

My dream back then was to publish digital stories and have them on a website. The point was to share stories. Sadly it didn't really take off. I have always had a passion for helping students to write and I have created many books over the years with my classes. These are great keepsakes but rarely go beyond the class and parents. In my previous school I actually published a book with my Grade 1 but we only printed 500 copies and that was very, very expensive.

In 2008 I became an Apple Distinguished Educator. This changed everything ...

Apple has supported me. The software, training and inspiration that I have been given to grow as an educator had changed the way I teach. It's all about the student voice. I realize now, that this was what I was trying to do back in 2008. I was trying to give students a platform, an opportunity to be heard and to have a greater audience to read their work that went beyond the teacher, the class, their parents and even their school community.

Today I realized that dream ...

My students are no longer writing for the teacher, for their parents or for their school community. Students are able to actually publish their work to the world. Keily now realizes that she has an audience on the other side of the globe. Her work is now alongside professional authors in a high profile online bookstore.

Keily is now an author!

Nahyeon's book that she painstakingly created over a year ago can be downloaded and viewed by people from 32 different countries.

Nahyeon is now an author and very talented book illustrator!

Yes I know that blogging can give you that international audience. But to have your book published in a forum alongside professional authors is something that is quite amazing.


Amazing for me to realize my dream as an educator. This is something that I will continue to build upon.

Thank you Apple 

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