After two weeks of reading, analyzing, and working through Washington Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker,” my American Literature students have completed their assignments and, ultimately, created our first, collaborative e-book. Before we take a look at our virtual study guide, let’s review the plans and activities that crafted this original project.

The Lesson Plan

No real magic here. Just a simple plan to have my American Literature students understand Irving’s well-crafted, Faustian short story. Students were asked to demonstrate a thorough, deeply analytical understanding as it related to tone, mood, diction, style, purpose, descriptive language, figurative language, symbolism, and overall theme. For a more detailed description of the lesson plan, please click here.

The Process

First, students were given access to a digital copy of the ascribed literature that was segmented into ten, distinct sections. The number assigned to the differentiated teams of three-to-four students directly corresponded to the section number within Irving’s story. After making a copy of the short story from my Google Drive, students were asked to create one, shared Google Drive document within their own teams. This crucial step allowed all students to read the entire short story while interacting verbally and digitally with their own teammates. Of course, if you have ever witnessed the power of sharing a Google Drive document, you can easily understand how cool this is for the students. In all honesty, however, I had a request to read some of the story as a whole class from a majority of the students who were complaining about the complexity of the text. They seemed to struggle with establishing a foundation of understanding from the beginning of Irving’s story. So, I was happy to oblige them, and on a cold, rainy Sunday I put together a new, interactive learning structure that was designed to guide the students through the first few pages and form a solid base of comprehension. Was the new learning structure perfectly successful? No. But two class days of “The Perimeter, the Players, and the Offering” had most students firmly entrenched in some rather complicated literature. From there, all teams were ready to finish the full story and embark on analyzing their assigned sections. Once the literary analysis, or Part 1, was completed, students were asked to tackle Part 2, which involved creating a video summary and symbolic picture of their assigned sections. Students were asked to submit Part 1 via a shared Google Drive document through our BrainHoney digital learning platform. For the Part 2 video summaries and pictures, each team simply submitted their corresponding and labeled cameras to me. From there, I downloaded all teams’ Google Drive documents as Word documents to my desktop and uploaded them to Widbook. After uploading all video summaries to our class YouTube channel, I simply embedded each video next to its accompanying section in the newly created e-book.

The Product

Am I proud of our Widbook e-book that will hopefully serve as a study guide for any student in the world? Absolutely. Is our e-book flawless. Absolutely not. Take a look for yourself. There is no doubt you will immediately envision the educational potential of combining a collaborative, creative atmosphere and a challenging lesson plan with such a cool and easy-to-use website. So, without further delay (but please imagine a thematic drumroll here), I present you with our Widbook e-book…a study guide for Washington Irving’s famous short story. Simply click here and begin turning the digital pages.

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