iTooch Middle School is a framework for practicing important middle school language arts, math, and health concepts from grades six through eight. The basic program includes seven titles that can be tested for free on two levels, and there is a library of expansion packs available as in-app purchases to add other topics and levels of difficulty. Each item presents a reading stimulus with a hints section that explains the concepts, followed by multiple choice questions.
Based on National Common Core Standards
Virtual blackboard for diagrams and notes
Integration with Game Center
Calculator included for complex math problems
Thousands of available problems available as in-app purchases
Comprehensive chapter summaries serve as teaching or study guides
iTooch Middle School truly lives up to its claim of being a comprehensive study tool for middle grades if users can purchase all of the modules they need. Additional modules are $4.99 each, so this could be an issue for people or programs on a tight budget. However, the app is very comprehensive, so the purchases may be well worthwhile. Questions are sound and chapter reviews/summaries are informative.
One problem that users may encounter is that some questions extend beyond the active window, and there is no indication that there is hidden information unless the user touches the screen. The scroll bar is only visible when the screen is touched. It would be possible for an inexperienced student to miss important information on the summaries, or even not to see the correct choice on the multiple choice questions if they were unaware of how to produce the scroll bar when needed. In addition, there is no confirmation of selections on the test, and impulsive students, or those with motor issues, may inadvertently choose an incorrect answer, then have that recorded as part of their score.
iTooch Middle School offers over a hundred sample questions with the free version of the app, and thousands are available by purchasing additional modules grouped by grade level and curriculum area. Teachers can also submit their own questions to add to the library. Each chapter includes a clear summary of information related to the skills being tested. There are two modes of play: practice and test. Practice mode is untimed. Test mode has a 2-minute time limit per item, with bonus points earned for quick response. It would be nice to have the option of turning the timing mechanism on and off to meet students’ needs. Records of progress through the questions and chapters, as well as performance on tests, are available for a single user. The app can be reset to accommodate the next student.
The chapter summaries are well-designed and convey sound information related to the Common Core Standards. Examples are included. The questions are also well-thought-out, and directly assess the assigned Standards using a multiple choice format. Thousands of questions are available in a selection of core curricular areas at sixth, seventh and eighth grade levels. It is possible to sample the questions before purchasing the entire module. There is a virtual blackboard available for users to take notes, make calculations or sketch diagrams. The app also includes a calculator for use with math problems.
Progress reports are available in three formats: task completion, percentage scores, and letter grades. Users can set the app to choose the type of report generated. It would be nice if the application allowed a few users at one time, but as it is, only one set of records is maintained. The app can be reset for the next user, but this makes it a bit more challenging to use in a classroom or school setting.
This app is not particularly flashy with its rewards for correct responses or accurate work, but small animations of the main character do acknowledge accuracy. The app also connects to the Game Center for broader competition with other users. Many students at this level find motivation in bragging rights.
As users progress through the tasks in the application, they can unlock achievements and other rewards. The animated mascot acquires ever more amusing animations and outfits, which students will find very engaging.
The interactive nature of the application is also an entertainment plus. Learners appreciate the instant feedback as well as the auditory and visual nature of the information presented.
Though intentionally limited, the free version of iTooch Middle School will give users a complete picture of whether investment is warranted. It’s nice to be able to sample all of the different levels and subjects, and good to try the mechanics of the program out so you can be sure it is right for your students. Each module costs $4.99. Users who wish to purchase an entire grade level’s worth of content can expect to pay about $15 for Grade 6 (English, Math and Health), and $10 for Grade 7 or Grade 8 (English and Math at the preferred grade level). Once users have purchased relevant libraries, they will find that this application is an outstanding addition to classroom or home school practice resources. Parents will find it useful to provide their middle school students with comprehensive skills practice that is directly related to the tasks students see in school daily. The program is entertaining, engaging, accurate and reliable.
There is no outside advertising in this application. There are optional in-app purchases of additional modules of questions for the library, as well as connection to the Game Center. There is also an option in the Settings section to provide feedback on individual questions to the authors. These features would be generally appropriate for the target age range, but those supervising younger users should be aware of them. Also, the feature to provide feedback on questions, while very helpful when used correctly, has the potential for abuse by students. It might be better if that feature were more difficult to access or more hidden.