21st Century Learning @
HALB Middle School

Mrs. Allison Sobel

“I took the past 28 years of material and brought it to the 21st Century”

Mrs. Estee Lightstone interviewed Mrs. Allison Sobel, who teaches 6th and 7th grade Social Studies, about the iBook that she created this past summer. Mrs. Sobel has been using her iBook for the first time this school year.

EL: Can you please explain what an iBook is and some of its features?

AS: An iBook is an interactive textbook that allows you to embed PowerPoint presentations, interactive assessments, and video clips.

One of my favorite features of the iBook is the study guide. As students take notes on the iBook, all the notes filter into one notebook at the end of the chapter. The study guide also helps with vocabulary terms. I am able to create a word glossary of the terms that I expect them to know which links to Webster’s Dictionary and also gives them features for researching these terms further on the web.

Another great feature is that the students can’t lose it!

EL: Why did you create one yourself instead of taking one from the iBooks library?

AS: I created the iBook with the HALB student in mind. As their teacher, I was able to create exactly the materials that I wanted my students to learn. Additionally, I was able to write the material based upon the students’ reading level.

I was able to personalize the information that I want them to know, while at the same time, remove information from their old textbook that I deemed irrelevant. I was also able to add information that connects to their Jewish roots. For example, in my units on Mesopotamia, I was able to incorporate information about Avraham, who was from Ur, into my textbook. This is certainly something that wouldn't be found in a conventional textbook!

I was also able to personalize the book by inserting pictures of myself visiting some of the historical sites. The students love seeing their teacher in their textbook!

EL: How do the students respond differently to the iBook than your previous textbook?

AS: There is no comparison in terms of the students’ interest and engagement. They are eager to open their iBooks and do the readings and research.

It also helps with differentiation in my classroom. Students who are poor readers can have the textbook read aloud to them. The note-taking feature is amazing and helps keep students organized. They can take their notes directly in the book, and it corresponds to the paragraph on which they were commenting.

EL: What are the downsides to using the iBook?

AS: The only downside I have found with the iBook is regarding Shabbos reading. I still have to make paper copies for the students who like to read over Shabbos, but this is an issue with all technology.

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