By using iBooks to create textbooks, I found a way to make and share content that I had never used before. Building an electronic textbook allows me to gather all the ele- ments required for a class (texts, images, links to films, podcasts and blogs) and to or- ganize them with teaching in mind—all the
while nourishing a long-held passion to create books.
In preparation for my Masters thesis, I worked on editing 18th-century texts, after which I interned twice in
publishing houses: one at Éditions de l’Imprimerie Nationale (which follows ancient printing techniques that use
lead-based characters), and another at Éditions Diane de
Selliers, who edits books about art and literature. Each
year she brings a great literary text back into popular
awareness, illustrating it with a contemporary artistic
medium. When I worked with her, we laid out Ovid’s
“Metamorphoses,” illustrating it with baroque paintings.
Thanks to those two internships and to handling and to
adapting ancient texts, I held on to my love of fine publishing, to laying out spreads, and to the use of images in
bringing texts to life.
Creating textbooks for immediate use affords both my
students and me great flexibility: I modify lessons based
on student responses and suggestions, along with our
collective generation of ideas. Particularly for peda-
gogy, image generation is extremely important because
it allows teachers to draw parallels with art history, to
approach the text more organically, and to understand
and retain its primary message more easily. For visual
learners, it is essential. Furthermore, all documents are
gathered in the same medium: the iBook serves as a
textbook, a notebook and a file folder. The user can take
notes alongside the text, send them to an absent student,
analyze images thanks to elaborate widgets, take quiz-
zes, write lengthy texts and send them directly to teach-
ers for comment or correction.
The benefit of creating a textbook over the course of
the year is that I can infuse it with student work (
summa-ries, essay excerpts, comments, presentations, creative
writing or essays about art history, and analyses comparing texts vs. film), and thus promote collaborative work,
which will crystalize as students prepare for the Bac
exam in French literature.
To create the textbook, I use royalty-free texts and images as much as possible. When that is not the case (for
example, with 20th-century texts that become part of
the public domain only after 70 years in France and 50
in the U.S.), I make note of them for editors and have to
pay for the rights to publish them within a given iBook.
It is also easy to present time-sensitive projects digitally, which is how we created a book titled #JeSuisCharlie (when the satirical periodical was attacked), which
contained analyses of images, songs, and the drawings
and reactions of students. Currently we are working on
an iBook based on Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, illustrated by San Francisco murals.
You can find my textbooks by going to the Apple Store
under iBooks, and searching for Le Théâtre Classique
and Fanfreluche (an original fairy tale), both under my
name. In addition, I will shortly publish a textbook that
encompasses the 11th-grade Bac literature curriculum.
Employing 21st century technology to learn the art of bookmaking.
MARIE VOLTA, UPPER SCHOOL FRENCH