Mixbook was originally created for users to create digital scrapbooks using personal photos from weddings, vacations, parties, etc. While it is great for all of those purposes, Mixbook also has some great applications for education. If you're looking for a way for all of your students to demonstrate what they've learned, Mixbook is the perfect tool for you! One of its greatest features (other than the great layout and beautiful finished product) is that Mixbook allows multiple users to collaborate on one book.
Recently, I completed a Mixbook project with Michelle Discenza's 5th Grade Class. Her students had all read biographies about famous Americans and Michelle was looking for a culminating project...and along came Mixbook...
Here is the amazing Mixbook that her students created (100%, cover to cover):
How we did it:
- Michelle's 5th graders read biographies in small groups and completed a packet with graphic organizers. This helped them organize their thoughts when the time came to write summaries in their Mixbook. Each group (team) learned about one famous American.
- Michelle created a (free!) Mixbook account using her school e-mail address. She created a book with enough blank pages for each team to have 2 pages of work space.
- Students worked in collaborative teams of 3 to search for and save pictures to use for their pages. To conserve time, we asked each team to find only 3 pictures (enough for a 2 page layout). When they found and saved a picture, they also saved the URL (that would later go into the Mixbook) for copyright purposes. Most teams needed only one 45 minute period to find all of their pictures.
- We assigned teams to specific pages in the Mixbook (i.e. one team had pages 2-3, the next had pages 4-5, the next had 6-7, etc.). It was important that the teams stayed on the pages that were assigned to them (if they used other pages, it would overwrite other teams' work)
- Most teams spent about 2 periods (45 minutes each) writing and designing their pages. Mixbook has TONS of options for page layouts, background design, texts and fonts, and even a new "sticker" option for that authentic scrapbook look.
- When all 8 teams were finished, Michelle asked a student to create a cover page, it was added to the book, and the book was published.
Notes about the project:
- The entire project (not counting reading the biographies) took about 4 class periods, so creating a Mixbook is not a major time commitment.
- Michelle "embedded" her class' Mixbook on her classroom webpage. Embedding means that people who visit Michelle's webpage can flip through her Mixbook without leaving her webpage. This is a great way for parents and the community to see what you're doing in class.
Anything else I should know?
- Books that are published on the Mixbook site are public, so please remember that using individual pictures of students is not allowed without written parental consent (per QUFSD Website Publishing Policy).
- In order for students to collaborate on one book, they would all have to login to the same Mixbook account. For Michelle's project, she and I logged students into the Mixbook site (there were only 8 computers). If you don't want to do that, and you also don't want students to use your account, then you can create an account with a "fake" e-mail address from a website called MailCatch. Simply register for a Mixbook account by making up an e-mail address with a mailcatch.com domain (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). If you visit http://www.mailcatch.com/, you will be able to check your "inbox", but you won't be able to write mail. It's a safe alternative for your class...
- If you're going to use pictures from the Internet, make sure you take a few minutes to teach your students about copyright and fair use. They shouldn't be taking pictures from the Internet without giving credit.
- If you're really happy with the books you create with your students on Mixbook, you can actually order a hard copy! Michelle ordered a copy of her Famous Americans book and it looks great--very professional. The cost of the book depends on how many pages the book has (more pages = more $). Of course, you don't have to order the book--you can just use the digital version.
Visit Mixbook, create an account, and play around on the site for a few minutes. You'll see how easy it is to create a great looking book in no time at all.
Please let me know if I can help you and your students with a Mixbook project!