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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

MixBook: If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, What is a Picture Book Worth?

My MixBook, front coverEvery year in early March, my eighth graders return from their Washington DC trip with hundreds of photos and a mission: the annual DC Trip Portfolio.  They’ve visited Gettysburg, Philadelphia, and New York City as well as our nation’s capital, and they have an assignment for their history teacher: create a scrapbook of your experience, using pictures, artwork, postcards, and text.

Typically, this means a trip to a scrapbook store, and after about a hundred dollars’ worth of purchases there, a really thick, heavy compendium of their beautifully displayed memories.  These projects really are amazing, most of the time.  But they cost so doggone much!  The history teacher and I decided to look into some other options that might involve more technology and less expense.  Our middle school principal got a friend on the line using iChat, and this friend shared her screen with us while giving a tour of MixBook, a site she had used to create a beautiful bound book of photography starring her triplets who turn six this month.  I was immediately wowed.  I went home and got to work.

My MixBook, inside front coverThe pictures here show just a few poor-quality PhotoBooth shots of my finished work.  I stayed up late several nights, imported over five hundred pictures of my son (I didn’t use them all), and decided on an outdoors theme.  Then I told only a few people and kept my project a secret from my family.  When it was all done, after just a few hours’ work, I ordered two copies: one for home and one to be sent to my mother in New Jersey.  My masterpiece was due to arrive during my trip to Palm Springs (see last week ‘s blog for more on that), so I told my husband to be on the lookout for a parcel during my absence.

More of my MixBookHowever, I got a voice mail from my mother the day I was due to fly south, so I hurried home to get a look before I had to go to the airport.  My husband was delighted, to say the least.  He frequently laments how we have so many pictures of our son, yet almost none that we can hold in our hands and look at.  He’s more accustomed to traditional photo albums, and I am the queen of Picasa, Flickr, and Facebook.  My son was amazed to have a REAL book, just about HIM.  My mother thoroughly enjoyed her copy, a collection of snaps of her youngest grandchild who lives almost 3000 miles away from her.  She’s also IN several of the pictures.

I just booked flights for my mother to come spend six weeks with us this summer.  Not only do I want to take hundreds more pictures, I think I will ask her to bring all the pictures she can find of my father, who died two years ago, so we can scan them and make a book about his life.  I’d like to have a page done by and about each of my father’s seven grandchildren and also a page for the infant great grandson Dad never got to meet.

Even more MixBookMy 8.5” x 8.5” soft cover books each have twenty pages and cost me about twelve dollars.  The entire order, with shipping to two different locations, cost me about forty bucks.  The final product is priceless.  And if I want more copies, I can just order them.

All images are owned by Diane Main, all rights reserved.

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