From artificial to authentic: Using Book Creator to create meaningful projects

Michael HernandezBlog, Case study


With AI tools on the rise, educators are struggling to find ways to assess students in meaningful ways.

T he world we live in right now can be a confusing and complicated place. And with the rise of artificial intelligence tools like Chat GPT, educators are struggling to find ways to assess students in meaningful, equitable ways.

We know that engaging work is always better than tests. Storytelling projects, like those you can make with Book Creator, help teachers connect their curriculum to their communities, and help students make connections to their own lives. They can also provide a type of uncheatable assessment that students look forward to completing.

Engage students by leveraging curiosity and passion

Learning and storytelling are inextricably linked because they both are founded on inquiry. Wondering about the world and ourselves, and the urgency and importance of seeking answers to pressing questions is where we find motivation and purpose for our work. Take science for example, which is based on observation of the world and the testing of hypotheses (a type of question) through data collection and analysis. Compare that to a mystery novel where the author and audience begin with a question–”who dunnit?”-- and follow a path of observation and discovery.

Story projects also leverage this innate sense of curiosity related to our curriculum, as opposed to being given a question on a test or essay prompt, they are immediately invested because they see how the learning process connects to their own life, and honors their individuality and circumstances.

Storytelling with purpose

Stories are meant to be experienced by a wide audience, not just the teacher. Because Book Creator projects can be published globally (or at the very least for their own class or community), students can see tangible results of their effort, and know that the work they put into their projects can have an impact far beyond just getting a grade–it can actually help people solve problems. Authentic publishing motivates students to create accurate work, elevates quality and craft, and provides opportunities for important conversations around digital citizenship.

Concerned about water pollution and how storm drain runoff affects oceans, a student created this book project to document pollution at our local beach, and share information about the problem on a global scale.

Story projects as uncheatable assessments

Students (and teachers!) do their best work when they care about a topic, understand how it affects them, and can see a tangible purpose behind all the hard work. When we invite students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through the creation of story projects, they do so not because they have to but because they want to. Students look forward to completing assignments, which disincentivizes cheating in the first place. And because each student project made with Book Creator is unique and a reflection of individual student choices and style, they are inherently uncheatable.

This book project was created as part of an assignment to address a social concern. This student chose to explore food insecurity through a local food pantry. Photojournalism, research, and interview skills were used to complete the project.

How to use Book Creator to create authentic learning experiences

Set up students and colleagues for success by providing transparency to stakeholders around why students should be creating digital story projects as an alternative or supplement to traditional assignments. Many state standards include skills like critical thinking, analyzing sources, public speaking, and collaborative experiences, which are difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish with tests and worksheets. But all of these skills and mindsets are at the heart of every digital book project.

Work alongside students to develop a class or department-wide mission statement about the purpose for Book Creator projects, which helps guide student choices about content, quality, and ethics.

Digital books provide choice in which aspect of your curriculum students can explore, and flexibility in the ways they can demonstrate their knowledge. For example:

  • History students can create living history projects
  • Math and science students can learn data literacy by creating data visualizations
  • Language arts students can create everything from poetry projects to literary magazines
  • Students in every subject area can tell the story of their learning by curating their work in digital portfolios

Book Creator has their own portfolio template that you can remix to your library today. You'll need a Book Creator account to get started.

Each of these projects makes space for multimodal learning (using a variety of media such as text, audio, and video for sharing knowledge), and learning experiences that are more inclusive and accessible.

What I love most about Book Creator projects is that they can help us return to a positive relationship to learning, one based on authenticity and the humanness of our experience in school. Inviting students to create projects like these helps students be part of something meaningful and brings joy and purpose back to learning.

Don’t miss my presentation at ISTE Live 2023! Stop by the Book Creator booth to hear more about using Book Creator projects to facilitate authentic learning experiences.


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