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iTooch 6th Grade Health
Pros: Provides a wide range of important content, with topics ranging from healthy eating to bullying to CPR.
Cons: A few images are a bit dated, and in places the language could be too advanced for some readers.
Bottom Line: This comprehensive tool covers a wide range of serious health topics for adolescents.
Teachers can use this app to supplement an existing health curriculum or as a starting point for building a new curriculum. Encourage kids to explore certain lessons as you cover them in class, and invite kids to track and share their results. What color belt did they earn? How close are they to completing each section? Some words in the lesson text are bolded or highlighted. Encourage kids to use a dictionary or reliable online resource to investigate and define those terms.
Editor's Note: iTooch 6th Grade Health is no longer available.
iTooch 6th Grade Health is a rich resource for anyone teaching middle schoolers about health and safety. The app features five units (Nutrition, Medical Musts, Physical Activity/Sports, Growth and Development, and Safety), and each section features about 10 lessons. When users select a unit, they can choose to read the lesson text, explore practice questions, or enable test mode to earn points and a grade for each lesson. Users can sync the app to the device's game center to easily track and share their progress through the lessons -- they can also share their results via email and social media. As kids advance through the game, their avatar can earn different martial arts-style belts. Meanwhile, each time kids log in they earn a daily reward, where they play a scratch-off game to win "power-ups" they can use to get hints or take shortcuts in quizzes. While earning belts and power-ups is a little simplistic, it's fun, and it feels good to earn rewards that are tied so closely to the game's learning content.
iTooch 6th Grade Health's interface has improved over time as the app has gone through updates, and the developers are helpfully responsive to feedback from educators. There's help overlay text that appears the first time a user logs in, and it's easy to peek at the lesson (just grab the tab at the left side of the screen) or the app's extensive settings menu (grab the tab at right). Lessons are jam-packed with information and include features for enlarging and shrinking text to make it easier to read.
iTooch 6th Grade Health offers great value. Its thoughtfully organized, extensive curriculum covers a wide range of topics and offers meaningful, engaging assessments. Lessons and quizzes could work for middle school students both in the context of health class and in other settings. The nutrition unit and organ-system lessons could be a great addition to a life-science curriculum, and the medical musts and safety units could add value to a school-wide student-life program.
Overall, the experience is a healthy mix of silly and serious. Some lessons can be dense, but the playful cartoon avatar and colorful text and images help keep the content engaging and easy to navigate. Users can choose to explore practice questions before they enable test mode and receive a grade for their responses. Quiz questions cover important highlights from each lesson in a good range of formats, including true/false, multiple-choice, and fill-in-the-blank. Users can also enable a "speech synthesis" feature to listen to questions and answer choices. The only disappointing feature is the images. Between dated photographs of the food pyramid and cartoonish illustrations in the drug and alcohol sections, the style is inconsistent and doesn't match the otherwise charming interface and high quality of the written content.