Why Brian Dawson recommends iPads for education

“We were able to take our school from grade F to grade A using iPads & BookWidgets”

Brian Dawson, 1:1 iPad Coordinator at Pleasant City Elementary School, West Palm Beach, Florida

Taking a school from grade F to grade A

Palm Beach County School District in Florida is the 11th largest district in the United States with over 180,000 students in 190 schools. Pleasant City Elementary School was one of four schools in their district to receive a Federally Funded School Improvement Grant in 2011, which placed iPads in the hands of all students, faculty and administrators. Only Pleasant City Elementary School showed marked improvement for the duration of the 3-year project, earning an A on the 2014 FCAT (Florida State Test).

Using BookWidgets on iPad, students are gradually moving toward a “green” school where class assignments and assessments are being done on the iPads rather than paper. Also, the kids have begun to enjoy learning again. They have been able to practice areas they miss, or forget, independently, as needed. Learning the ways of test taking in practice helps to make them be more comfortable when the actual test is administered.

Practice makes perfect

Practice is important, particularly in subjects such as math. This ingredient was missing before the school started using iPads. Now, teachers don’t have to force the kids to work on their exercises. They can fill in gaps and practice lessons as many times as they wish. This makes good students better and average students achieve levels they hadn’t even aspired to before.

Teachers are constantly asking for new content iBooks for their curriculum. To date, Mr. Dawson has produced over 100 iBooks for classroom use in all grades and subject areas. Each book contains BookWidgets. WhiteBoards, Worksheets, Puzzles, Charts and HotSpot images are used to support text and content throughout the iBook.

“Apart from embedding widgets in multi-touch books, we also use the BookWidgets for iPad app, mostly for quizzes at this point, but I expect that to expand to the other widgets as well.”

BookWidgets Enhanced iBooks

Using only iBook Author’s standard widgets made it difficult to optimize iPad use in the classroom. BookWidgets took iBooks to a whole new level of interactivity that the kids absolutely love.

“The more interactive I could make it, the more the kids wanted to use it. Now they look at hard cover textbooks and wonder why we are still using them.” says Mr. Dawson. “It was easy to use and whenever I got stuck, I got immediate answers from the company. They were also very open to suggestions for new and improved widgets.”

According to Mr. Dawson, BookWidgets is a must for assessments on the iPad. Any updates you do are immediately seen by students. No additional management of the device is necessary, just upload from the BookWidgets application.

Best BookWidgets Features

  • Seamless integration: BookWidgets blends seamlessly with iBooks Author.
  • Wide Range of Widgets: The variety of widgets is great and growing all the time.
  • Fantastic Service: “The relationship I’ve had with the company is truly unique as I feel as though I am actually heard as I ask questions or need support”
  • Automatic Grading: “Since most widgets can be auto-graded, teachers love that they can teach and not worry about having to correct the assessments they use. Remediation is much quicker and more direct.”
  • Making Better Teachers: “I love what BookWidgets does and how I have become a better educator from using it.”

“Using BookWidgets and iPads, our students are gradually moving toward a "green” school where class assignments and assessments are being done on the iPads rather than paper.“

Brian’s favorites


“The different question types are really cool. You’d think, after 30 years in the classroom, that I’d have seen all types of questions on tests/quizzes.”

Flash Cards

“This is a winner! Shades of yesterday with an updated twist. Kids love them!”


“The puzzles are also very useful. Now that hangman is added to crosswords and word searches, I never want for ways to practice word lists from content in my iBooks.”

Whiteboards & Worksheets

“The whiteboards and worksheets are used in all of my iBooks. Making assignments green is always a good thing. Kids are getting better and better at using their fingers to draw!”

How to run a 1:1 (successfully)

This iBook by Brian Dawson documents how Pleasant City Elementary School in West Palm Beach, Florida was transformed with iPads at the center of curricular advancement!

It is jam packed with great advice from an experienced teacher with real, hands-on experience of running a successful 1:1 iPad program.

You'll learn:

  • How an Acceptable Use Agreement holds students accountable for their iPad
  • Recommended apps grouped by subject
  • And much more...