Meet Jennifer Kimbrell

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North Little Rock School District’s Jennifer Kimbrell has published two iTunes U courses that include interactive books she created with iBooks Author.  Learn more about Jennifer and her work.


What’s your background in education?

I have been an educator for 17 years. I taught 1st and 2nd grade and was a literacy coach for 4 years. This is my 2nd year in instructional technology. I have a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a specialist degree in reading. I am also a National Board Certified Teacher.

How have you used your own iTunes U materials in your school?

I have had the unique fortune of creating 1:1 iPad classrooms in my district in grades K-5. The idea is to build a capacity of experts in our district who are now mentoring our new 1:1 classroom teachers. I have taught and assisted my 1:1 teachers in teaching the iTunes U courses I have created, and I have taught them how to create their own. Read my blog post on Introducing iPads into the Elementary Classroom.

What special skills do you get to use when designing lessons / courses for iTunes U?

I have always loved to create curriculum, so watching an idea change over time is pretty cool. I get to be creative and think of ways to make lessons come alive for kids.

What’s the latest iTunes U course you created? What inspired it? character keller quote 2013-08-17 at 6.43.10 PM

This summer I created a character education course called Building Character for the 21st Century. Traveling down the road to building character in the classroom is so much more than any lesson plan that I could write, but I knew if students had opportunities to talk, make mistakes, and learn from others; inspiration might follow and students could find success in and out of the classroom. So I created a unit that could be taught in a variety of ways to allow students the opportunities to learn about character through literature, history, and current events. I included video, images, and articles and asked students to use apps and web-based tools to create their responses to them. Read my blog post about creating this course.

What special tools have you used to create this year’s materials, and how do you think they add value to the lessons?

I used iBooks Author to create my book for the course. I also used Bookry to create widgets for my book. I think the book adds value for those teachers who do not have access to a classroom set of iPads. This way they can still teach the course.

Describe how your first course, Animals and Their Stories, has been used in the classroom to address Common Core literacy standards.

One of my favorite activities was the lesson on using a glossary and dictionary. Using the fables as a mentor text; students would take one fable and choose 5 words they either didn’t know or that they found interesting and record the word on their corresponding sheet. The fables were read from the iBook I created called Animals and their Stories. In iBooks there is a feature in which students can look words up by highlighting the words and click define which provides the students a definition. Unfortunately, some of the definitions are not kid-friendly, so we discussed this often. We also discussed making sure their definitions matched the context of the story. The students would write the definition on their sheet and then search for an image to save on their iPad. Sometimes they would really have to think of different ways to search for the word to get what they wanted. For example, in the fable The Crow and the Pitcher, some students chose the word casting. Well “casting” is actually a way to pour liquids into a mold to create various metals. However, that is not how the word was used in the story. So students had to get creative to find a way to search for an appropriate picture. Once their recording sheet was finished, students then took their work to an app called Scribble Press. It’s a great book appCreation Apps that allows students to create their own book and then share to iBooks as an ePub. Since this app will allow students to draw pictures, students can draw the picture to match their glossary term rather than use images from the Internet. Once their pages are created students can organize them in ABC order. We did the same activity with all of the stories and noticed students really became proficient with the technology as well as gaining a better understanding of what it means to use kid-friendly terms and use the context of the story to determine meaning.

What advice would you give to teachers who are considering sharing their instructional materials with the public?

Copyright seems to be the main reason why the teachers I work with do not publish their courses. I guess the best advice I could give would be to learn more about copyright.

What else should we know about you professionally? Where can we find out more about what you are doing?

You can follow my blog, Tech with Jen  http://blog.techwithjen.com or find me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TechwithJen, Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kimbrell1971/boards/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TechwithJen?ref=hl

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