How Lorinda Whitlow replaced a $60,000 PC setup with iPads, iBooks and BookWidgets

“BookWidgets has helped me overcome a lot of the problems I was having in creating my curriculum.”

Lorinda Whitlow, Agriscience teacher at Christiansburg Middle School in Christiansburg, Virginia

Upgrading Classroom Technology to iPads

Although Mrs. Whitlow’s school administration had not formally adopted iPads in the classroom, she has an iPad for each child in her classroom. Up until 2013, her classroom had ten desktop computers with Agriscience learning modules, however, Mrs. Whitlow’s supervisor pointed out the fact that the software was out-of-date and that they were also in need of new textbooks, which would cost around $60,000-$70,000.

That’s when Mrs. Whitlow suggested that they opt for iPads instead. She asked for a class set of 20 iPads, a Mac laptop and an iPad cart and set out to create her own “learning modules” on the iPads.

Today, Mrs. Whitlow uses nearly all the BookWidgets widgets & apps and recommends it to every teacher she encounters.

Going Digital Enhanced Learning and Saved Money

“My supervisor didn’t believe I could create my own learning modules for iPad, so I essentially set out to prove him wrong”, Mrs. Whitlow recalls. She started with a personal iPad and laptop and wrote an interactive multi-touch book on Animal Science and Small Animal Care. After creating a 10-day lesson of interactive curriculum, she showed her supervisor, who promptly ordered two sets of iPads, one for Mrs. Whitlow and one for a peer who teaches the same subject at another middle school in the local system.

By the fall of 2013, Mrs. Whitlow had written 6 interactive iBooks for her classroom, each consisting of 5 or 10-day lessons. She is working on adding 6 more by the end of the current school year.

The school’s previous computer modules had too many components for students to work with. They would watch a video lesson on the computer, then go to an “Activity Book” for directions to hands-on labs, and then use yet another notebook for recording their own answers and storing their class work. Mrs. Whitlow was determined to create an iBook that could minimize all the clutter. She wanted to include the lab experiments and worksheets within the iBook. After starting the process, Lorinda was very disappointed that iBooks Author did not provide more in the way of widgets, as there was not a lot that would work for her. She started looking online for widgets and came across the BookWidgets site.

BookWidgets Offers So Much More

Once Mrs. Whitlow found BookWidgets, the process of creating her iBooks was almost unstoppable. She was able to add the interactive worksheets, word searches, crossword puzzles, quizzes, and more.

“It seemed every time BookWidgets came out with an update, I could immediately think of a way to use the new features. My curriculum now has PDF files, interactive pictures, interactive tables, BINGO games, and more.”

Additionally, there have been several times when Mrs. Whitlow thought about a specific feature that she wanted to add onto the book, and after e-mailing the BookWidgets team, it was developed promptly. This was the case with the interactive Charts widget and the recent addition of a Rich Text Answer to the Worksheet widget.

“BookWidgets has helped me overcome a lot of the problems I was having in creating my curriculum.”, says Mrs Whitlow. “Overall, the use of iBooks and the new stand-alone BookWidgets for iPad app have increased student engagement within my classroom.”

Benefits of using BookWidgets in the classroom

  • Students Enjoy Learning Again: Students in Mrs. Whitlow’s class are excited to learn, because they do almost everything on the iPads.
  • Save Paper & Time: They are also happy to contribute to a paperless society. In addition, this saves storage and time standing in line at the copier.
  • All-in-One Solution: Since everything is in the iBook, students don’t have to remember pencils, paper and books when they come to the classroom.
  • Instant Feedback: One of the things students love most about BookWidgets, is that they receive instant feedback on tests and quizzes.

“The use of iBooks and the new stand-alone BookWidgets for iPad app have increased student engagement within my classroom.”

Lorinda’s favorites


The Worksheet widget is so versatile that you can also use it as a project rubric. Use the “Answers with Scores” feature to grade student projects and presentations straight on the iPad, then submit it to your own account. From there, you can quickly add comments and share it with students.


Although I am not a social studies teacher, I have been able to incorporate the Timeline into a few projects and use it within a few iBooks that I have created for a Sunday School class I teach at church. I like that students can add their own dates and that dates on the timeline can be manipulated.

PDF Viewer

The PDF viewer is a great time saver! You can easily and simply save documents as PDF files and move them into the books. Great for adding older material to new projects.

Game widgets

The use of games is valuable in reviewing content prior to assessment. I have used the Crossword and Word Search widgets to review a lot of vocabulary and key words. More recently, the students have enjoyed the addition of a few Hangman and Bingo games as well. Again, these are perfect, interactive games that end up saving the teacher a lot of time.

New to iBooks Author? Check out our free books.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create your own interactive books with iBooks Author.
  • Add images, movies, and sounds to turn your book into a multimedia masterpiece.
  • Use interactive widgets to engage your readers like never before.

A starter kit for any language teacher new to teaching with the iPad. You’ll learn:

  • How interactive books can promote language learning
  • How to build your book to take maximum advantage of the iBooks app
  • Great ideas for using widgets and apps in your language classes