Thursday, November 29, 2012

iLearn with Boing: Ocean Adventures

This review originally appeared on Consonantly Speaking.  Thanks to SLP author Jessica Chase for allowing us to re-post.  Be sure to check out her site!

Boing the alien has tackled math concepts as well as letters before, but now he is helping children learn language concepts! In Tribal Nova's latest application, iLearn With Boing: Ocean Adventures, children can work on vocabulary, sentence formation, and listening comprehension skills! Continue reading to learn how this adorable alien can help your students work on these language skills.

Main Page

The Main Page of the application is similar to other iLearn With Boing applications. There are three choices for learning games: Vocabulary, Sentence Formation, and Listening Comprehension. Each is paired up with a type of underwater animal.
There are also two blue buttons in the top corners. These are for tracking a child's data. The one on the left is to register for an account with iLearn With to track progress and receive news about upcoming applications and information. The other is a "Parents Center" in which you can log in with your iLearn With account to see progress and recommended skills for your student.


Application Play
Choose one of the following activities to begin application play: Vocabulary (octopus), Sentence Formation (crab), or Listening Comprehension (fish). There is a time-limit to complete each activity. The timer will begin to blink and make a ticking sound when the student is close to running out of time. If time a child does not complete the activity within the time limit, they do not advance and must complete the activity again. Boing will state "Oops, let's start again". Each time a student completes an activity within a certain amount of time correctly, they will advance on the segmented bar at the top right hand corner of the application. When a student has correctly completed three activities in a given time limit, he or she will receive a medal which will color in a segment on the bar. When three sets of three activities have been completed, the student will receive a reward and move up a level.

Vocabulary





This game is a one-player activity. When pressed, it will ask you to choose and recommend a level based on what the child has played through. This application asks students to find different vocabulary items. Level 1 asks students to find specific nouns. Level 2 will ask a student to find four items in a given broad category. Level 3 will ask a student to find four items in a given specific category. Items to find will be narrated by Boing, and pressing on him again will have him restate what to look for. Students must look under, behind, and inside of different underwater rocks, objects, coral, and animals. When correct, the octopus will juggle the bubbles with the vocabulary items in them.

Sentence Formation





This activity can be played with one-player or two-players. The child(ren) is/are asked to make a story and place the noun/verb/preposition/adjective images on the colored crabs in the correct order on the matching colored spaces. If one student is playing the application, each time he or she presses a crab, it will state the noun/verb/preposition/adjective prior to putting it in a circle. If two players are playing the application, it will not state the items aloud so that the sentence is a surprise for the other student, and the students take turns. Once a sentence has been correctly placed, the student must press the shell for the application to check and make sure the sentence is in the correct order. Level 1 focuses on a noun + verb + with + noun sentence. Level 2 adds prepositions and adjectives. Level 3 allows children to assign adjectives to various nouns by pressing, holding, and dragging them to nouns. In addition, in later levels, the color coded spaces will change to black spaces for students to work on sentence structure on their own. When correct, the sentence will be stated, appear in text, and an animation of the sentence will be shown.

Listening Comprehension



This is a one-player game. Boing will give a direction of a preposition of a circle to touch. Prepositions could include next to, in, behind, in front of, to the left of, to the right of, or on top of. 3-4 different circles surround different underwater objects. Level 1 gives one direction and objects that are their normal colors. Level 2 adds a color component. Level 3 includes a color and size component. When the correct circle has been pressed, a fish in a costume will appear. Once all four directions have been correctly touched, the fish will dance under spotlights.

Progress Tracking



Go into the Parents Center to view student progress. Then press the "More Details" button to view more specific details about each part of the application. Press on the Vocabulary, Listening Comprehension, or Sentence Formation tabs to view a graph with the number of attempts, success rate, and age group average for each level. You can also view skills from other iLearn With applications that have been played by the particular student.

Rewards



Every so often a child may win a prize (usually every three trials). These prizes are collected within the application and can be opened to play within iLearn With's free application: Planet Boing! You must have downloaded this application on your iPad to play with them.

What I Like About This Application:
  • The application focuses on three different areas of language.
  • The games on the application increase in difficulty/language complexity.
  • I like how the entire application has an underwater theme.
  • There are different levels of difficulty.
  • You can track student progress through the Parent Center.
  • Directions are stated aloud and can be restated by pressing on Boing the alien. Some words are stated aloud.
  • The games are motivating from the inclusion of searching for vocabulary items to dancing fish to creating silly sentences with matching animations. My students in particular were jumping up and down yelling to check different places for vocabulary items and pointing on the projected screen where to look.
  • iLearn With applications are integrated together through the Parent Center and rewards.
What I Would Like to See in Future Updates:
  • I am not a big fan of in app purchases on many applications. I had a bit of difficulty accessing them due to the fact that they were blocked at my workplace. Therefore, I only got to trial the Vocabulary game with my students. I would much rather pay for the full version out-right.
  • Some of the vocabulary is a bit above some of my students' levels. For example, apples and forks are more common than plums and colanders. Most vocabulary is appropriate while I am interested in knowing how other vocabulary was chosen.
  • It would be great to have a setting in which text could be associated with directions or vocabulary.
  • I agree with the iMums' review in the fact that it would be nice to have a setting to adjust the time for students. Some of my students had difficulty recalling which objects they looked by already, knowing where the hot-spots of places that they could look by, or understanding different vocabulary for the Vocabulary game and ran out of time.
  • I would love it if I could choose the level of difficulty for a child rather than having a student master each level.
Therapy Use:
  • Articulation/Fluency/Voice - Have students state where to look for various objects on the Vocabulary game or read the sentences created on the Sentence Formation game using age-appropriate speech sounds, fluency strategies, or vocal strategies.
  • Expressive Language - Have students state where to look for various objects including nouns and prepositions on the Vocabulary game. Have students state the sentence in which they have created prior to pressing the shell to check their sentence on the Sentence Formation game. In addition, discuss nouns, verbs, prepositions, and adjectives and have students discuss which words on the crabs fit in each category. Discuss the prepositions in the Listening Comprehension game.
  • Receptive Language - Have students describe different vocabulary items, what group they fit into, what they do, what they look like, and compare/contrast. Talk about what different prepositions mean.
  • Categorization - Play the Vocabulary game Level 2 or 3 to have students place items in a given category.
  • Following Directions - Students can play the Listening Comprehension game to hear directions stated aloud increasing in length and complexity in which they must follow by pressing on the screen.
Price:
You can download iLearn With Boing: Ocean Adventures for free and try out the Vocabulary game. If you would like to download the two other games, Sentence Formation and Listening Comprehension, you can buy them through an in-app purchase of $2.99.
Disclaimer:
Consonantly Speaking was given a copy of the application to review. No other form of compensation was received.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sentence Workout

This post originally appeared on Speech Time Fun.  Thanks to Miss Speechie for allowing us to re-post.  Be sure to visit her blog!

I was contacted by Virtual Speech Center when they released this week their newest app, Sentence Workout.  I was honored to be given the opportunity to try it out and share with you.  Don't forget, the opinions are all mine!


This app uses a fun soccer theme.  I don't know about you but about 80% of my students are OBSESSED with soccer! So yay! 

This app uses over 350 sentences with 37 different sentence structures.  Each sentence type includes 10 pages.

I like to edit the sentences before using.  I like to alter them for my students' need.  I have several older elementary students with syntax goals, so I made the settings appropriate for them.  I set the award counter to 5 since that was the lowest amount possible.  10 is the highest.  You can use this app with up to 5 students.

Now it is time to enter students into the app.  Once you add and save, to enter them into the activity is click their names and then hit next.

Then you get to select the activities for each student.  You can individualize or just click all if your students are ready for the randomization.  There are 37 activity types.  Each type gets more linguistically complex and abstract.

There are two activity types: "Say it" and "create a sentence."  You can pick one or both for each student. 

The app uses a soccer coach to encourage students and keep them motivated.  If you use this app with multiple students, it switches amongst them after each turn which is great for keeping them involved.

Say it:
Students are presented with a question and an image.  Students should use POQ or part of question to elicit the correct sentence structure for the answer response.  Students can record and replay sentence.  Then they can score themselves or you can do it for them  by clicking the "x" or the check.  This helps gather data.  This does require knowledge of the picture vocabulary.  Students collect soccer balls along the bottom as they respond accurately.   For each activity, students go through all 10 sentences before being rewarded.


Students are then reinforced with an opportunity to play a soccer game.  They use their finger to "fling" the ball into the goal.

Create a sentence:
Students are presented with a picture and parts of a sentence in blocks.  They must move the blocks to rearrange them to create a sentence.  As they tap the pieces, it does provide an audio presentation which is great for weak readers.  Once they place the sentence into the correct placement, students are rewarded with a soccer ball and the data is collected automatically.  Then they have the opportunity to record and replay themselves producing the sentence.  This is great for practicing.  Also, if incorrect, this is a great way for them to check their work and listen to see if the sentence makes sense.  I think it is helpful to teach students which activity or sentence structure you will be using in the activity.  This was a great strategy when I used this app with my students today. 


When students responded incorrectly, they were provided a sound and no % increase.  This was a great way for them to assess themselves. 


Again, students are rewarded with a soccer game.

At any point, you can click "done" to end a session.  You will be able to access reports from that point.

You can also access reports from all sessions from the main page.  The reports are very detailed and lets you know which activity (sentence structure level) was worked on and with what success level.  You can access information by activity or by date.  This is great for planning future lessons.


Things I like about this app:
  • Great and motivating theme
  • Reinforcing games
  • Ability to use with multiple students and individualize to each
  • Detailed reports which can be saved and emailed
  • Targets receptive and expressive sentence structure
  • Ability to record and play back for student self assessment and correction
  • Easy to use and navigate
Things I would like to see in an update:
  • An easy way to email or print review worksheets that relate to the sentences used in the app for home practice or follow up activities
Learn more about this $9.99 app by visiting the links provided above or iTunes!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BrainWorks App


This app review was originally posted on YourTherapySource.  Thank you to Margaret Rice, PT for kindly allowing for this review to be reposted here.    


App Name/Developer:  BrainWorks by Sensational Brain LLC


Sensational Brain LLC has released a new app to go along with their online tools to create sensory diets.  I received a free copy to review for this blog post.  This app is quite comprehensive when it comes to creating sensory diets for home, school and the community.

If you are not familiar with the BrainWorks system, it is an online resource to create sensory diets using picture cards to help supplement sensory diets.  A tachometer is used as a visual image to help children determine if their bodies are just right, slow and sluggish, fast and stressed or fast and hyper.  This system is carried over on the app as well.

The BrainWorks app was very easy to set up.  I did watch the available YouTube videos to get a jump start but if you are comfortable with app usage you may not even need the video.  If you are a parent you will benefit from watching the videos since Gwen Wild (the creator of BrainWorks) offers some helpful tips.


Basically, you set up user accounts with appropriate activities on each account.  For this example, I set up an account for a "John Doe".  I can go into settings and deselect activities so that only the activities that are available for John can be selected.  Once that is all set the app is ready to go.  You can add other users and customize the activities for that user.

You would give the child the iOS device and he can select himself, "John Doe".  Once selected, John can choose to use the timer or not.  The next step is to choose your location (picture 1. above).  Once the location is selected John can pick how he feels (picture 2. above).  Now John can pick activities based on how he is currently feeling (picture 3. above).  For this example, the cross crawl activity was picked (picture 4. above).  You can see the timer counting down in the cross crawl activity.

I tested this app on the iPhone and the iPad.  The images shown above are all from the iPhone.  The only difference is on the iPad up to 16 activities can be shown at one time whereas the iPhone shows 4 activities at a time.

All the above features are customizable.  You can add your own activities with images from your photo library or take a picture.  You can remove any activities that are not suitable for the child on the settings page.  Also, to change the settings require a password to prevent children from altering the app once you have set it up.

Here are the pros for the BrainWorks app:
  1. Easy to set up.
  2. Many activities provided with new ones being added.
  3. Images are appropriate for all ages, not just young children.
  4. The ability to have an unlimited number of users is great for occupational therapists, teachers and parents who have more than one child with sensory needs.  You could set up different accounts for children in  the same classroom.  If a sensory break is needed the student could access an iTouch, iPhone or iPad independently and follow their own, personal sensory diet.  No printing and cutting out picture cards required.
  5. The step by step choices allow children to be more independent in following a sensory diet.
  6. You can add your own activities - if you have specialized equipment or other simple activities you can simply snap a photo and add it to the sensory diet.
  7. The timer offers nice visual support to indicate how much time is left and to help the child transition following the sensory break.
  8. This would be a great app for older elementary students through adulthood.  Once the student was instructed in how to carry out the activities, he/she would be able to carry out the sensory breaks independently.
  9. I had no problems with the app crashing - worked properly every time I tried it.
  10. It provides activities for at home, school, community and desk/table all in one location.
Here are the cons for the BrainWorks app:
  1. Although each activity has a written description in the settings section is does not show up with the picture image.  It would be helpful to have an easier way to access the written description especially when teachers or parents are supervising the sensory activities.
  2. This app would require extra instructional time for younger students to be completely independent in carrying out the sensory breaks.    
  3. The iPad version shows up to 16 activities at a time which may be too many choices although you can easily decrease the choices in the settings.  

I was financially compensated for this post but the opinions are completely my own based on  my experience.  Overall, I definitely give this app a thumbs up.  Personally, I love the features of unlimited users for pediatric therapists to be able to customize an iTouch, iPhone or iPad to share in the classroom or clinic.  It offers a wide range of activities to choose from.  In addition, the tachometer images are very helpful in reinforcing getting the body into a just right state.  It would be an even better app if the written description of the activity could pop up if necessary.  One other idea that would be great is if they added a push reminder.  Perhaps a sensory break reminder every hour for children to take a sensory break.  That would be wonderful during homework time or even for adults who need reminders to step away from their desk top work.  

Get more information about the BrainWorks app and purchase it for $5.99.  
Interested in the online version of BrainWorks?  You can get more information here about membership.

Margaret Rice


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Language TherAppy Lite


This app review originally appeared on the blog Speech Adventures by Mary Huston, MS, CCC-SLP.  Thanks so much Mary for being so kind to share this review on TherapyApp411.
App Name/Publisher:  Language TherAppy Lite by Tactus Therapy Solutions

As you most likely know by now, I don’t work with adults. But, every once in a while an app comes along that is just too good not to talk about. If I worked with adults, this (these really) would be must haves. As it is, these are great skill builders for my students that are a bit older (or who annoyed me and now have to work without a game! wait…did I say that outloud?).
Tactus Therapy is one of the “go-to” places for adult therapy. They specialize in products and apps specifically for adult therapy. They truly are phenomenal. They have several apps that are designed for adult therapy, their newest one (at this time) is Category TherAppy. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be reviewing that one just yet.
The app I’m going to review is their free “demo” version of the other four apps. It’s called  Language TherAppy Lite and has free versions of Tactus Therapies’ Comprehension TherAppy, Naming TherAppy, Reading TherAppy, and Writing TherAppy.
When I first downloaded this, I wasn’t at all sure it was something I could use. In fact, if truth be told, I downloaded specifically so I had something “adult-like” to present on when I presented on using iPads in therapy. Boy was I surprised, and I’m very glad I didn’t admit it to anyone (until now).
While this app won’t keep preschoolers entertained…and probably won’t do a lot for the K, 1, 2 group… The older students can definitely benefit from it. I can definitely see where adults dealing with TBI or stroke would be able to get some excellent help.
To do this justice, I’m going to go through each section (briefly). First is Comprehension TherAppy. In this section, the SLP has the option of clicking “listen,” “read,” and “listen & read.” The free version only allows you to do a “trial” of Nouns (but that’s okay – it gives you a good feel for the app). The paid version has verbs, adjectives, and nouns – lots of nouns.
In the “listen” area, three pictures of real items are shown. A voice prompt comes on and the user selects the correct picture. In the “read” area, three pictures are shown with a written prompt at the bottom of the screen. The user selects the correct picture. In the “read & listen” area – there are 3 written words and a voice prompt comes on with a word. The user needs to match the written word with the spoken word. If the wrong word is selected, there’s a negative sound and the prompt is repeated. Data is kept up on the top right corner.
Naming TherAppy has four areas: Naming Practice, Describe, Naming Test, and Flashcards. Naming Practice is separated into categories. A picture of an item (say dog) is presented, and the user has the ability to select different prompts from the bottom of the screen. The open book prompt is a verbal cue (e.g., “a man’s best friend”). There are spelling options (either first letter or whole word), a common saying (idiom) option, a phonetic (initial sound) option, and finally the spoken word. WHEW! This app really does an amazing amount of cueing.
Here’s a screenshot. Even though the selections appear “greyed out” they are still able to be selected.
The “describe” area is again separated by categories. There are 6 areas or prompts. They include “what does it look like,” “what sound does it make,” “what is it used for,” “what type of thing is it,” “who uses it,” and “where do you find it.” This feature in particular is one of my favorites. Building these categorization scaffolds is critical to gaining better vocabulary. I actually, can see myself using this now with a few kids in my therapy.
The Reading TherAppy section has “Phrase Matching,” “Phrase Completion,” “Sentence Matching,” and “Sentence Completion.” In Phrase Matching, a picture prompt is shown with four written phrases. The user needs to pick the best phrase to match the picture. For instance, a picture of a dog is shown. The phrases are “furry dog,” “woolly mammoth,” “wool blanket,” and “fluffy cat.” Obviously there are two that are similar enough the user needs to read – not just guess from the first letter. I happen to have a few 3rd and 4th graders who would benefit from this! If the wrong phrase is selected, it grays out and a negative sound is heard. In Phrase Completion the written phrase is shown with a blank (e.g., “Birthday _______”) and there are four words (e.g., “cake, case, pie, pile”). The user selects the best fill in the blank.
The final section is Writing TherAppy. In this area, the user selects a difficulty level (Easy, Medium, Hard) and the type of activity (Fill in the blank, Copy, Spell what you See, and Spell what you Hear). Fill in the blank – is just that. The picture is shown and some of the word is provided – the user fills in the blank. The difficulty level determines how many blanks and how many “extra” tiles are provided from which to select the correct tile. The user drags the tile up to the correct space, clicks “check”, and if it’s correct it reads it and goes to the next word. If it’s incorrect, it just provides the negative sound and stays there.
See what I mean about this app being great for older school-age children as well as adults?
From the website: “2 expressive (Naming TherAppy & Writing TherAppy) and 2 receptive (Comprehension TherAppy & Reading TherAppy) language apps for aphasia, special needs, and language learners. Both expressive apps have the ability to add custom words and pictures for training individualized vocabulary or foreign languages.”
Wait…the paid version ($59.99) has the ability to add custom words and pictures! Okay…now I HAVE to buy it!
So…have you ever used the Tactus Therapy Solutions apps in your therapy? Will this app prompt you to try it? The Lite version is free after all? Let me know… I’d love to hear what you think of all their apps!
Mary Huston