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Holdbrook Primary School logo...Holdbrook Primary School

School No: 358

iPod Touch devices in Year 6


July 2010

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Key Stages:




Chris Carter
Tel: 01438 843918

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Holdbrook Primary School in Waltham Cross is a Community school with 210 children on roll. It has a higher than average proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals and a higher than average number of pupils with learning difficulties or disabilities.

Following interest and research into the use of handheld technologies in schools as a means of increasing pupil motivation and raising achievement, the school has purchased two sets of 20 iPod Touch devices, which are currently being used on a daily basis by Year 6 pupils.

The Device

DeviceApple’s iPod Touch is a hand held device with a 9 cm (3.5 inch - measured diagonally) touch sensitive screen. It is a multifunctional device with the following features:

  • Play high quality audio and video.
  • Run software designed for the iPod or iPhone.
  • Connect to the internet through wifi to browse the web or send/receive emails.
  • Bluetooth enabled

There are thousands of programs available for the iPod Touch, known as ‘apps.’ These can be downloaded directly to the device through a wifi internet connection, or ‘synched’ with the device from a computer using the Apple iTunes software. As the television advert tells us, there is an app for practically anything, and more and more educational titles are being developed. Apps are generally cheaper than software on other devices, with many being free. Typical app prices run from 59p to £2.99.

Device Management

Device managementEach of the two sets of 20 iPods at Holdbrook are stored in a flight case, from which all the devices can be charged at once. Also integrated into the case is an Apple ‘Macbook’ laptop computer, from which downloaded apps can be synchronised with all the iPods. This makes up a fully functional classroom kit which can be wheeled into any room, with the devices all ready to be used by pupils. Whilst the devices are capable of going onto the internet, this is not utilised in the school as currently there is no need for this.

Each child uses the same iPod each day and has his/her own set of headphones. These are kept in a bag along with each child’s score book, in which they record their daily scores from the activities they carry out.

Apps used by the pupils

Mental Maths

Mental Maths

Four programs have been installed onto the devices for regular use in the classrooms.

These are:

  • Mental Maths: a selection of exercises designed to improve mental calculation skills. With every correct answer a piece of an image is revealed, so offering an incentive to answer correctly and finish the exercise. Exercises have 4 difficulty levels and an adjustable time limit. Statistics on the users’ performance are recorded by the app.
  • Brain Challenge / Brain Challenge 2: Think Again: a collection of games and exercises designed to ‘exercise the brain.’ Activities come under the categories of Logic, Maths, Memory, Visual and Focus. Games are unlocked following successful progress, offering an incentive for the pupil to complete the tests. Test scores are recorded, and also a ‘percent of brain usage’ is offered.




Brain Challenge Exercises

  • Soduku: A version of the popular numbers game.
Use of the iPods

Year 6 has 30 pupils. Each morning half the class at a time embark on 20 minutes of iPod use, carried out in a group away from the classroom (in the dining area.) The iPod use is managed and run by a keen member of staff, who is currently training to be a HLTA. At the beginning of the project she gave the children some basic instruction on using the device, and instructed them in how to set up their ‘profiles’ in the apps they were going to use. The iPod Touch is a very simple and intuitive device to use and the children were able to use them independently more or less from the start. During each daily session the children must do one test from one of the four apps, following which they are allowed to use any of the activities from these apps, which include games they may have unlocked by successfully completing tests. As most of the apps have levels of difficulty, the children work up through the levels. Following the daily test each child records his/her results in a notebook, so they can see their progress. This is also recorded by the various apps.

Pupils using iPodsClose up of screen



“When I wake up in the morning I can’t do six plus three, but this warms me up for the day” (Callum.)

impactChildren in year 6 are clearly very motivated by using the iPods, and enjoy carrying out the activities. Interest does not appear to be waning and some pupils were very clear about how they thought the activities were helping them to learn. By tracking their daily scores all the pupils are able to see their progress, and many enjoyed the challenge of beating their previous scores, and were keen to show their peers and teachers how they had done. Nearly all the children, whatever their ability level, showed progress in their scores.

Holdbrook Primary School uses the Maths Whizz online maths tutor, which includes assessment tests to track pupils’ maths ages. It was clear from looking at a class set of tests carried out some weeks into the project that there had been some real improvement across the majority of pupils, particularly in Rapid Recall. Without a control group it is impossible to say much of this is directly attributable to the use of the iPods, but the staff at the school feel confident it has made a positive impact.

Also positive is how the children with learning difficulties or EAL have enjoyed using the devices and have been able to take part in the activities along side their peers.

The Future

The future...The current year five are being introduced to the iPods and the educational apps during the summer term so that they will be ready to begin their regular daily activities when they go in to year 6, or before. As the school owns two sets of iPods, it can effectively run projects in both years at once without the need for sharing equipment. Holdbrook also recognise the huge potential for implementing the use of other apps across the curriculum, as such a wide range are available, so as confidence increases it is probable that the current use will be developed and expanded.