The Secret Garden grows into an immersive experience.

Rhiannon Sparkes, an elementary school teacher in Quebec, Canada, set out to build a lesson that would deeply engage her students in the setting and themes of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. By using books and apps on iPad, her fifth graders tap into their creativity and express their knowledge in the way that best suits their individual learning style.

“Using technology is where the students are most comfortable and most creative. So it’s really exciting to help them enjoy classic literature. The potential with iPad is limitless.”

Rhiannon Sparkes, Elementary School Teacher, Dorset Elementary School, Quebec


Introduce the topic.

iBooks plants the seed for a rewarding learning experience.

Rhiannon’s students download a free version of The Secret Garden from the iBooks Store. They start by reading the novel together as a class to get a sense of the plot. This way, each student has the foundational context to dive deeper into the complex concepts and characters at a pace that best suits their individual skill level.

Rhiannon teaches The Secret Garden in March, the time of year when the snow begins to melt and gardens reappear in Canada.


Active reading on iPad.

Using the iBooks app to read The Secret Garden allows students to highlight key passages, take notes, look up definitions of unfamiliar words, and even listen to the text. Having the book on iPad means Rhiannon is sure every student in her class is able to read at his or her own pace.

Learn more about iBooks

“Now that the students have the novel on iPad, they can refer back to the story. In iBooks, they can highlight passages, take notes, and look up definitions — as they’re reading the text.”


Build student understanding.

Learning continues outdoors as students use their iPads to explore the concept of setting.

Rhiannon leads activities that take students out of the classroom to develop their understanding of setting through experimentation.

“Set the learning goals, and then let your students run with it. What they bring back to me surprises and astounds me, every time.”


Demonstrate learning.

iPad gives students the ability to go beyond a basic book report.

In their final project, students demonstrate their comprehension of the intricate relationship between setting, mood, and the novel’s themes.

“iPad helps make learning accessible to all. The assignment is not just an essay anymore — students can use photos, art, and their creativity to tell me what they’ve learned.”

Personalize and perfect your lesson.

With the variety of apps, books, podcasts, movies, and music available through iTunes, designing a customized lesson is easier than you might think. Get started with the apps Rhiannon’s class uses or explore other ways to integrate iPad into your classroom.

Download a guide to exploring educational content on iTunes View the Literature collection on iTunes