Our english department uses grammar books that were printed in the 60’s. I guess this is a good indication that despite Merriam-Webster adding new words to the dictionary every year, the “how-to-use-these-words” (grammar) never changes.

ELA teachers swear by how “great” these books are in regards to their superior instruction on the rules of grammar. Yet, they are expensive, in poor condition, in limited supply, and rely on passive individual student reading as the means for instruction. There has to be a better way!

Shawn Jacob, a former stand-up comedian/magician turned educator (wouldn’t you like to be in his class?) and dear friend of mine took the challenge this summer at the iBookhack.org event in Zeeland, Michigan to begin creating, what I believe, is the answer to this subtle groan from the high school classroom of students learning grammar.

Shawn at the iBookHack.org event this summer.

Shawn at the iBookHack.org event this summer.

Privileged to be helping Shawn, we started discussing his multi-touch iBook during the winter break of 2013. You see, besides being a former stand up comedian Shawn also has extensive experience in designing and building websites. This part of Shawn’s personality made it imperitive that we laid out every page, icon, font, and interactive idea with pencil and paper before taking to the authoring tool of iBooks Author.

In the end what Shawn created is absolutely delightful. The pages of his iBook bring forth his personality extending the relationship he has established with his students. Well designed pages and easy to follow chapter layouts makes navigating the pages and content of his iBook straight forward. Students read, listen, interact, respond and write directly within the pages of the iBook. So how did it go?

Recently, I shot Shawn an email to tell him that I was tweeting out his freshly released iBook from the iBookstore and how proud I was of him and his work (two things Shawn is not- boastful, on twitter). He shot this response back to me:

Thank you, sir!
My juniors just finished using it over the weekend, so I gave them an in-class quiz today. The average grade for two of the classes (still need to grade the third group) is an A-. And that’s without me doing ANY lectures on the subject matter, so it’s all been done at home on their own. Pretty cool. It’s been great to have all that extra class time to work on writing, discussions, etc. 🙂
Tweet away!
Thanks again for all of your help with this. Now if only I had the next iBook ready for my students… There in for a real snooze-fest when I have to haul out the purple books next week…

When we think about how technology is impacting education we often think about equal access, cool projects such as coding, or flipped classrooms. While these are all well and good I think we too often over look how technology allows for master teachers, such as Shawn, to spend more time with students working individually or in groups on the matters that enrich the lives of students and deepen a healthy student-teacher relationship.

Download Shawn’s iBook from the iBookstore.


More recently Shawn was interviewed by our local news station WoodTV 8. In this interview Shawn shares more details about of his iBook. View the interview here.


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