Between The Lines – App Review

Between The Lines – App Review

Developer: Hamaguchi Apps

Price:            $15.99

 

 

CC whose blog is entitled “If Only I had Super Powers” http://ifonlyihadsuperpowers.blogspot.com/ recently wrote a post on trying to teach social-pragmatic skills to children. I totally concur with her. “Social –Pragmatic skills are HARD to teach” and yet more and more children are experiencing difficulty learning and generalizing these skills.

Between the Lines by Hamaguchi Apps is designed for primary(elementary)  school students through young adults, who would benefit from practice interpreting vocal intonation, facial expressions, perspective-taking, body language, and idiomatic or slang expressions. There are three levels available – Level 1, Level 2 and Advanced.

The app uses real photographs, voices and short mini-video clips of a variety of social situations and expressions. This app provides a dynamic way to help learn and practice interpreting the messages that are “between the lines” and simply can’t be replicated with worksheets and static flashcards.

All three levels adopt the same format. Although Level 2 is slightly more difficult than Level 1, there is not much in it and the division between the two levels is largely due to the size of the app rather than the difficulty level. The Advanced is slightly more difficult, but I have been able to use this level with my primary school children (9-10 year olds) with success.

 
Format of App:

 

1. Listening

 

The user hears a voice speak a sentence, e.g., “Oh wow, I can’t believe he’s here!” A question is then asked, “Who said it?” The user is shown a series of photographs. Depending upon the settings selected, there can be 2, 3 or 4 choices shown. The user touches the correct facial expression that matches the voice.

Who said it?

 
 
2. Body Language

 

A very short video-clip is shown that depicts an interaction or situation. For example, a girl is sitting on a bench waiting for her friend. Her friend eventually strolls along and sits down and she exclaims “It’s almost 8:20! Hello!” Her body language suggests she is really exasperated. The camera closes in this actor and says, “What is she thinking?” The user’s task is to look at the choices of responses and select the one that matches the facial expression/body language. Depending upon the settings selected, there can be 2, 3 or 4 choices shown.

 

What is she thinking?

 

 

3. Expressions

 

A very short video-clip is shown that depicts an actor speaking a sentence that contains an idiomatic expression, e.g., “I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.” The user is then asked, “What does that mean?” Depending upon the settings selected, there can be 2, 3, or 4 choices shown. Text can be read to the user by touching the sentences.

 

What does that mean?

 

Level 1 contains 204 tasks in total.

Level 2 contains 199 tasks in total.

Advanced contains 225 tasks in total.

 

Features:
  • All three levels can be played by up to 75 users or as a group.
  • The percentage correct is reported for each user’s performance on each of the three activities.
  • Individual users can select their own settings; the group must have the same setting selections for the entire group.
  • Settings include:

– Selection of the activities,

– Order of the activities (or random)

– Praise phrases and correct sound effect bell on/off

– Answer choices (group of 2, 3 or 4),

– How to display choices (automatically or manually)

– Automatic progression to next activity or manual progression using the arrow.

– Progress can be tracked, and displayed or not displayed.

– Reward animations are provided at selected intervals for a welcome fun and break including Dunk Tank,  Bull’s Eye (darts), and Knock ‘Em Down

  • Data can be saved, stored, printed and emailed.

 

Special Features

 

Although the App only provides a correct/incorrect reinforcement, each level has an Extension Activities sheet which provides specific guidance on how to extend the child and improve performance.

Level 1

http://hamaguchiapps.com/uploads/Extension_Activities_Level_1_Between_the_Lines.pdf

Level 2

http://hamaguchiapps.com/uploads/Extension_Activities_Level_2_Between_the_Lines.pdf

Level 3

http://hamaguchiapps.com/uploads/Extension_Activities_Advanced_Between_the_Lines.pdf

App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score   /20

Speech/Language/Education Apps

GENERAL INFORMATION & OPERATION   

5/5

Content is appropriate 1
No in app purchases required for use 1
Help/tutorial Available 1
Students can launch and navigate in the app independently 1
App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps 1

FEATURES     

4/4
App can be customized for different users 1
App can be used for single user or groups 1
Content/data can easily be exported 1
User data is saved from session to session 1

APP DESIGN      

1 ½ /2
Design graphics/sounds are appealing 1
App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user 1/2

SPEECH/LANGUAGE USE     

9/9
App is designed to target speech/language skills 1
App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness 1
App can be adapted to target speech/language skills 1
App encourages critical thinking and higher level language 1
App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist 1
Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance 1
Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment 1
App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs 1
App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups 1

TOTAL SCORE

19 ½ /20

 

 

Star Rating

17 – 20 Points  – 5 Stars

13 – 16 Points – 4 Stars

9- 12 Points – 3 Stars

5 – 8 Points – 2 Stars

0 – 4 Points – 1 Star

 

There is very little that I can fault with this App apart from the motivation games. The choice of three different games is great, but the games themselves don’t provide the user with any control of the game other than touching the “THROW” icon and hoping for the best. The children soon worked this out. As a result, the motivation to continue playing was dampened to some degree. There is also no limit to the number of times the child can press “THROW”  when they have a reward game, and even though there is no skill involved in the game, the children still enjoyed seeing the man dunked and it was occasionally difficult to redirect them to the task.

Never the less, I feel that this App is an invaluable source of targeting those difficult to teach social – pragmatic skills and it is not a bad thing to only work on one or two areas at a time in order to generalize these skills optimally.

 

Thank you to Patti at Hamaguchi Apps for providing me with Levels 1 & 2. The Advanced level was purchased of my own volition. 😀

The opinions expressed are my own.

When is a lisp no longer cute?

When is a lisp no longer cute?

A lisp is a relatively common speech disorder in which a person has trouble pronouncing the sounds of the letters “s” and “z.” The toddler that says “pleathe” is really cute, but how do you decide when the lisp is no longer cute?

 

And why on earth does the word “lisp” contain an /s/? 😛

 

There are a number of factors to consider:

Type of lisp
  • Interdental/frontal lisp: The tongue protrudes out through the teeth and the /s/ and /z/ sounds will then sound more like a “th” sound
  • Dentalized lisp: This is when the /s/ and /z/ sounds are produced with the tongue actually touching or pushing up against the front teeth.

It is a perfectly normal developmental phase for some (but not all) children to lisp until they are about 4½ years old.

However the following types of lisps are usually NOT developmental and will usually require intervention

  • Lateral lisp: This lisp is often referred to as “slushy.” A lateral lisp occurs when the tongue tip is in a similar position to make the /l/ sound, but the air flow, instead of being directed forward and out of the oral cavity, escapes out and over the sides of the tongue.
  • Palatal lisp: A palatal lisp results when “the mid section of the tongue comes in contact with the soft palate, quite far back. If you try to produce…an “h” closely followed by a “y” and prolong it, you more or less have the sound” (Caroline Bowen)

 

Tongue Thrust

 A tongue thrust is likely to result in an interdental or dentalised lisp that does not self correct.

 

What is a tongue Thrust?

All babies have a tongue thrust or reverse swallow. When the baby swallows, his tongue pushes forward toward his gums or front teeth. For example when feeding a baby pureed food. The baby’s tongue pushes forward, pushing some of the food back out of his mouth. The adult scoops the food off his lips and face with the spoon and puts it back in his mouth and the cycle continues.  As babies mature, they learn, not only to keep their lips closed when they swallow, but to effectively move the food back toward the throat with a more mature swallow.

In the mature swallow, the tongue tip is held on the alveolar (gum) ridge behind the top front teeth and the tongue efficiently moves the food backward with a rolling motion.

Children should have a normal, adult swallow by the time they are 7 years old.

 

What causes Tongue Thrust?
  • Thumb sucking and/or nail biting
  • Prolonged use of a dummy
  • Prolonged use of Sippy Cups
  • Mouth breathing
  • Premature loss of “baby” teeth
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Hereditary factors
  • Enlarged tonsils & adenoids

 

What are some signs of having a tongue thrust problem?

One or more of the following conditions may indicate that there is a tongue thrust and should be further investigated by a speech therapist.

  • Tongue protruding between or against the upper and/or lower “front teeth” when forming /s/, /z/, /t/, /d/, /n/. The  /j/, /ch/ and  /sh/ sounds may also be affected.
  • Response to traditional speech therapy poor.
  • Frequent open-mouth resting posture with the lips parted and/or the tongue resting against the upper and/or lower teeth
  • Protrusion and/or “splaying” of front teeth.
  • Lips that is often cracked, chapped, and sore from frequent licking
  • Frequent mouth breathing in the absence of allergies or nasal congestion

 

Treatment

Treatment of a tongue thrust requires breaking a habit that has been ingrained! It requires dedication and practice. For this reason, I would advise waiting until the child is around 7 years old.

Remediation of a functional articulation error of the /s/ and /z/ sound can be done at an earlier age.

Auditory Workout – App Review

Auditory Workout – App Review

Developer:  Virtual Speech Center

Price:             $19.99

 

 

 

 

Processing of Auditory information is a difficulty that affects so many aspects of language development and the ability to address this difficulty in an authentic learning environment is an ongoing challenge for therapists working with these children. All too often, the child performs well within the therapy context, but is unable to transfer these skills to the classroom setting.

Auditory Workout is an App that addresses this need.

Auditory Workout app includes hundreds of audio instructions and a BACKGROUND NOISE Feature that allows users to set background noise (classroom noise), so that learning is authentic.

The App allows children to follow increasingly longer and more complex directions which are divided into four categories

  • Basic Directions: 15 levels within this category ranging from “one-step directions with object” to “one-step directions with size, color, object, action, preposition, and object.
  • Quantitative and Spatial Directions: 12 levels ranging from “concepts and/or plus an object” to “the concept of first, second, third, and last combined with size, color, and object.”
  • Temporal Directions: 18 levels ranging from “the concepts of before plus an object” to “concepts of before/after combined with size and object.”
  • Conditional Directions: 15 levels ranging from “conditional directions with object” to “conditional directions combined with size, object, action, preposition, and object.”

Children accumulate basketballs as a reward for each correct response and are rewarded with a game when they accumulate enough balls.

App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score   /20

Speech/Language/Education Apps

GENERAL INFORMATION & OPERATION   

5/5
Content is appropriate 1
No in app purchases required for use 1
Help/tutorial Available 1
Students can launch and navigate in the app independently 1
App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps 1

FEATURES     

4/4
App can be customized for different users 1
App can be used for single user or groups 1
Content/data can easily be exported 1
User data is saved from session to session 1

APP DESIGN      

2/2
Design graphics/sounds are appealing 1
App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user 1

SPEECH/LANGUAGE USE     

6 ½ /9
App is designed to target speech/language skills 1
App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness 1
App can be adapted to target speech/language skills 1
App encourages critical thinking and higher level language 0
App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist 1
Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance 0
Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment 1
App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs 1/2
App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups 1

TOTAL SCORE

17 ½ /20

 

 

Star Rating

5 stars             17 – 20 points

4 stars             13 – 16 points

3 stars             9 – 12 points

2 stars             5 – 8 points

1 star              0 – 4 points

 

I Like:
  • Instructions can be repeated as many times as necessary and if a child fails on a task then the item can be re-done. You must turn the Automatic Paging Feature to OFF in the settings menu in order to do this.
  • The app is easy to navigate and can be used by parents with their children for extra practice.
  • The Background Noise Level can be turned off or on and adjusted with differing intensity levels.
  • The App is very detailed and is well graded so that the child can progress through increasing levels of complexity.
  • Reports are specific and you can select a report based on the activity that the child completed or by the time/date that each task was done.

 

Areas for improvement:
  • It would be nice if the Background Noise Level could be adjusted without “ending the session” particularly if the child is having difficulty or there is “sensory overload.”
  • Although the incorrect answers are displayed (if this setting is selected), it would be nice if the response to errors was more specific. For example, when targeting the concept “BEFORE”, (Show me the candle before you show me the phone), and the child taps the phone first, both items are shown simultaneously and the concept of BEFORE is not highlighted.
  • A record feature would add an additional Expressive Language Dimension to this App.
  • It is quite expensive but I cannot find a comparable App and so at this stage it is good value for money.

 

Thank you to Virtual Speech Center for providing me with this App.

The views expressed are my own.

 

Syntax City – App Review

Syntax City – App Review

Developer:         Smarty Ears Apps

Price:                    $39.99

 

 

 

Syntax City targets a variety of grammatical elements in fun and engaging ways. It is suitable for children who have some knowledge of reading but with guidance and mediation it could possibly be used with a 5 year old child.

The theme sets the tone for children visiting a variety of places within the city. Each location within the city targets a different set of goals.

The following locations and skills  are addressed:

Gym: Do/Does

  • Level 1: do/does choice
  • Level 2: do/does/are(is)
  • Level 3: is/does/do

Beach: Third person singular agreement (one level)

Bakery: Was/Were

  • Level 1: Two options was/were
  • Level 2: Three options was/do/were; was/were/have
  • Level 3: Four options do/was/were/has

Ski Resort: He/ She

  • Level 1: Choice between he/she
  • Level 2: he/she/her; he/she/him

Farm: Past tense verb agreement

  • Level 1: Two options to choose from. Uses irregular verbs
  • Level 2: Three options to choose from E.g. bend, bent, bended; goed went, go

Grocery: Has/Have (one level)

Park: Is/Are (one level)

Zoo: Regular and Irregular Plurals

  • Level 1 – regular plurals
  • Level 2 – irregular plurals
  • Level 3 – Regular & Irregular Plurals

 

Each location contains 50 targets, adding up to a total of 400 targets within 8 different activities.

Each target phrase is also spoken aloud. Correct responses are rewarded with animations and collecting “treasure”  belong to the specific location.  The treasures are placed under the  child’s profile.

 

In the settings menu, the user can either choose to have incorrect responses indicated with a BEEP and the word is not inserted into the appropriate space or the incorrect word can be removed from the choices.

Data tracking:

Syntax City offers detailed  data collection. A set of graphs provides visual information on children’s skills and their progress toward mastery of specific goals. The data can be emailed, printed, or shared to other compatible applications.

When you click a student’s profile under “reports” you can access treasures or score reports.

App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score   /20

Speech/Language/Education Apps

GENERAL INFORMATION & OPERATION   

4/5
Content is appropriate 1
No in app purchases required for use 1
Help/tutorial Available 1
Students can launch and navigate in the app independently 1
App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps 0

FEATURES     

4/4
App can be customized for different users 1
App can be used for single user or groups 1
Content/data can easily be exported 1
User data is saved from session to session 1

APP DESIGN      

11/2 /2
Design graphics/sounds are appealing 1
App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user 1/2

SPEECH/LANGUAGE USE     

7 /9
App is designed to target speech/language skills 1
App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness 1
App can be adapted to target speech/language skills 1
App encourages critical thinking and higher level language 1
App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist 1
Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance 0
Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment 1
App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs 0
App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups 1

TOTAL SCORE

16 ½ /20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                     

Star Rating

5 stars             17 – 20 points

4 stars             13 – 16 points

3 stars              9 – 12 points

2 stars              5 – 8 points

1 star                 0 – 4 points

 

 

 

 Positive   Areas for Improvement 
The target sentence is read for the child App does not read target words for the child. This would allow younger children to work independently
I like that you are able to repeat sentences as often as necessary by tapping on it.
Report is very specific for each target – allows therapist/facilitator to see exactly which structures require more work. Scores below 50% are highlighted in red. No specific feedback with incorrect responses
Is/Are and do/does are addressed in the inverted question form. Is he going down the slide? Do they think the water is cold? He/she activity – there is a full stop after the initial sentence, but the following sentence with he/she does not start with a capital letter
Therapist controls rate of game Child is able to click “NEXT” without completing the task although this is marked in the report as incorrect.
Each place in the town allows for vocabulary development related to that location.  Realistic pictures allow for discussion and extension language It’s a pity that the airport which is shown as part of the city doesn’t have an activity linked to it as it would make for excellent vocabulary development and practice
Past tense verb agreement – includes common errors made by children e.g. fight, fighted, fought Irregular plural task would be nice to include common errors as foils e.g. knifes, knives, knife

 

Syntax City is a great app that takes the tediousness out of working on common grammar difficulties.

However at $39.99, I feel it is a bit pricey and hopefully it will go on sale often.

Thank you to Smarty Ears for giving me this app to review! The opinions expressed are my own.

I did pick up a few bugs in the App, which HAVE/HAS been brought to the attention of the developers and will no doubt be remedied. 🙂