C is for Chromebook- Helping to Modify and Redefine the Alphabet Book for 21st Learners Grades 3 and Beyond


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Ruben Puentedura has developed the SAMR model of 4 levels of technology integration in 2013.

They are:  Substitution where the technology tool is just substituted for a 21st century tool.

Augmentation where the technology tool enhances the experience like 3 D glasses

Modification technology allows for additional tasks or expansions of the product or experiences to be changed in their designs and outcomes for audiences and student designers because of the technology.

Redefinition occurs when the capacities of the technology tools make a new design or frame of the previously traditional recurring project possible.


The alphabet book compilation is a centuries old book publishing print format which was a culminating multi-content learning project for a span of students grades 2-12.  The use of Chromebooks as a research, investigatory, collaborative, multidimensional product, and online feedback channel; allow s educators to modify the original tasks inherent in alphabet books and most importantly to redefine them into a digital real, that the calligraphers and illuminating artists of early alphabet books never dreamed possible.

In this whole class activity, students work together to research, write and design, publish, and then present their own Alphabet Book to an audience. Teachers can select a major curriculum topic to base the class Alphabet Book on, or perhaps, engage the students in selecting a topic of interest that aligns with the things the class must cover during the school year. It is guaranteed that the students will find this project to be one of the very most engaging and motivating ways of learning this content, while effectively demonstrating mastery of content.

The project involves authentic research into the topic selected as well as analysis of published alphabet books to identify elements they will incorporate and adapt for their own book.  The chromebook use augments and modifies that research through use of Google and ability of the students to save for their picture files images or public domain images or hand drawn letters they want to include in their alphabet book.  Given online capacities the anchor alphabet books, historic alphabet books and resources are far augmented beyond the print and library range even the most dedicated school students had access to in 1967.   Therefore teachers can modify the digital anchor requirements for comparative text research.

In essence, the class is divided into small groups (3 – 4 students), which research and create a page for each of the 2 – 3 letters it is assigned to generate for the whole class book. These pages include (teacher or class determined) elements like: a definition, important and/or fun facts, trivia, and an illustration for a facet of the book topic whose name begins with the target letter assigned. For instance, a page of a class Alphabet Book about The American Colonial Era might be “L is for Liberty Bell” or a page from a book on Earth Science might be “V is for Volcano” or a page from a book about Poetry might be “H is for Haiku”, etc. Of course, with Chromebooks these explanatory (exposition elements) can include audio recorded facts or music that fits the letter or an animated video involving the letter.  Indeed, the alphabet book can and is often redefined as an animated alphabet video or musical sing along or slow animation or audio with sound effects.

Guided by the teacher, students develop a model page template that they will follow as they work on their group produced Letter Pages. Thus, when all required pages are finished, they easily fit together to produce a full alphabet class book product that is consistent and of high quality. But the chromebook definition of the alphabet book can result in its pages unfolding as video or graphic art cartoon or even pop up art filmed animations.

Once each team finishes its allotted letter research and fills in the alphabet explanatory page template with references and explanatory text, plus optional art/graphics, the pages are collected into a single class content alphabet book which is a concrete work of research and is then presented on site to a preview audience of peers and shared online with a content expert (thus an ABC of the American Revolutionary War could be shared with the head of a local history museum or a college/high school instructor of American History) .  Whatever the format the video, audio, music and slides modify and redefine the project so that it is available online to selected and vetted by the teacher Chromebook audiences and invited adult guests and experts. This availability and accessibility for audience feedback is a redefining and liberating quality of the alphabet book that so inspires the student researchers with the immediate impact of and audience for their work.

What is particularly appealing about this flexible and easy to integrate activity is that it allows the entire class to produce a broad-based research work by virtue of the jigsaw efforts of the entire group.

Not only do students participate as part of a “think tank” team, but they can also produce a range of individual page contributions which reflect their personal interests, but applied to the group task.  The use of the chromebooks also helps the teams capitalize and tap individual student talents such as visual (pictures, graphics, hand illustrating) music (audio) , organizational (slides, folders, editing) and other tasks (organizing artifacts, keeping ongoing portfolio designs).

       Here’s how:

  1. Bring and pass around to the students a number of published Alphabet Books. These can be samples that are grade and content related, but can also be Alphabet Books that are aimed at older or younger students or adults. The samples will both inform and inspire the students who are about to create their own book.  Given the power of the Chromebook have the students Google samples of topic appropriate alphabet books and save public domain illustrations from historic ones as well as videos of how to create them.
  2. Announce to the class that at the end of this intense unit of study, they, as a class publishing team, will produce a real thirty page (or lengthier). One that will be presented to a real audience to read and given the chromebook capacity one that can be screened or read as a series of slides by a peer school or distanced audience. That’s a chromebook capacity redefinition of the alphabet book.

    A specific class publishing deadline should be set and deadlines set from the outset for presenting it to its intended audience.  To guide the students’ general research and design goals, they might generate one to three essential questions to be answered by the culminating e/print book.

Among these:  what are the essential special domain words or terms necessary to master this content?  In what ways. If any do these words and terms connect with one another or with other content in this subject or in many subjects?

  1. The teacher will divide the students into letter research teams of 3-4 students. Each team will research 3-4 letters of the alphabet assigned by the teacher (some of the teams will have duplicate letters so that there might be a broader mix of potential content material for each letter).
  2. For each assigned letter, the team will write a text definition to explain its meaning in their own words. The explanations may be in poetry, graphic narrative or prose plus include trivia, quotes or a quiz. Chromebooks allow this text definition to be recorded by the team or by student selected peer narrator.  The explanation can have recorded music underscore because of the chromebooks.
  3. As the project progresses, the teacher should have a benchmark session where all the teams present their content definitions and other ancillary research/quotes/trivia. Students should provide feedback for one another with the teacher only doing so privately. Of course using the Chromebooks, the teacher can modify this project and provide feedback privately and publically throughout the project.
  4. The teams will record their research sources as will the web team of researchers. Members of the general research team will share letter specific research they identify. Members of the art team will informally present some of their art and their art design research to the whole class and also share the research/designs with the letter specific teams.  A video of the making of the alphabet book can be filmed as the book is created. Again, this is an augmentation of the project but does not redefine it.
  5. The art team will generate a letter page template after reviewing the sample published adult and children’s alphabet books. They will do a least two versions of a letter page template which will then be voted upon by the class. Since the class are the publishers and creators of this book, their vote will determine the template all use and they will also vote as a group on a front and back cover design for the collected alphabet book.  The use of the chromebook allows for this cover to be the opening frame of an alphabet book as video if desired by the students.
  6. Depending on the age and grade level and student writing ability, the front matter of the book-i.e. introduction, forward, table of contents, authors, researchers, artists and back matter-afterword, appendices, can be done by a student team of writers.
  7. As a whole class, after the individual letter page templates have been filled out, the group can literally put in order the pages and some artists and publicists can scan or photocopy them for display on advertising Poster Boards to announce this upcoming publication. If the alphabet book is redefined as an audio book or a video, students with the teacher edit that content to fit a specific time format.

When C is for chromebook as technology tool to redefine a traditional alphabet book, the digital format in which students working as team display their alphabetically arranged content knowledge will redefine this widely used and enjoyed class genre for 21st century literacy learners. 


  1. e) Standards Alignment
Common Core Standards in ELA  
Reading: Literature and Informational Literature Key Ideas and Details: RL._.1RL._.2RL._.3
Craft and Structure:  RL._.4RL._.5RL._.6
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:  RL._.7RL._.8RL._.9
Range of Reading and Complexity of Text:  RL._.10
Writing Text Types and Purposes: W._.1W._.2W._.3
Production and Distribution of Writing: W._.4W._.5W._.6
Research to Build and Present Knowledge: W._.7 –  W._.8W._.9
Range of Writing: W._.10
Speaking & Listening Comprehension and Collaboration: SL._.1SL._.2SL._.3
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: SL._.4SL._.5SL._.6
Language Conventions of Standard English:  L._.1L._.2
Knowledge of Language:
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: L._.4L._.5L._.6
for Students
1.       Creativity and Innovation: a – b
2. Communication and Collaboration: a – b

3.       Research and Information Fluency: a – b – c

4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: a – b – c

5. Digital Citizenship: a – b – c

6. Technology Operations and Concepts: a – b- d


Suggested Texts
Lynne Cheney, A is for Abigail; Edward Gorey, The Utter Zoo Alphabet; Esther Hershenhorn, S is for Story; David Schwartz, G is for Google; David Schwartz, Q is for Quark; Sleeping Bear Press specializes in a series of alphabet books with complex texts that are detail rich and evocatively illustrated, including series on states, geography, and sports.


Ruben Puentedura

Trailblazers of Tech Education




Dr. Rose Reissman,

Academic and Grant Funding Director for Sector 5

About Sector 5,

Sector 5, Inc. (OTCQB: SFIV), is a Proud American Corporation, that sells, manufactures and develops new innovative consumer electronics under Sector 5 and other brands. The Company markets its partnership with Google approved Chromebooks to educational organizations, other B2B and B2C sales channels, with retail sales on Amazon. It is in development of several new products to serve the educational, business and retail markets. Follow the company on http://www.twitter.com/sectorfiveinc and http://www.facebook.com/sect5 and find further information at http://www.sector-five.com. For Sector 5’s Forward Looking Statements, click here.


CONTACT: contact@sector-five.com.

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