Between The Lines – App Review
Developer: Hamaguchi Apps
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:
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.
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.
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.
Level 1 contains 204 tasks in total.
Level 2 contains 199 tasks in total.
Advanced contains 225 tasks in total.
- 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.
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.
App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score /20
GENERAL INFORMATION & OPERATION
|Content is appropriate||1|
|No in app purchases required for use||1|
|Students can launch and navigate in the app independently||1|
|App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps||1|
|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|
|1 ½ /2|
|Design graphics/sounds are appealing||1|
|App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user||1/2|
|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|
|19 ½ /20|
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.