Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Describe with Art App Review and Giveaway

"This world is but a canvas to our imagination" 
~Henry David Thoreau

Virtual Speech Center recently released "Describe with Art" which is an app which aims to help preschool/elementary aged children who struggle with verbally describing and following directions which contain descriptive vocabulary.  As describing is a common task for students, this skill is applicable across the school environment.  I have several children that give 1 or 2 attributes of an object/person and are typically unable, past those attributes, to continue describing the requested item.  Overall, this app has been a good addition to our iTherapy.  Here's a bit more about it and some tips:
When you open the app you are greeted by this screen.  You have the option to go straight to the "paint" screen (great for general reinforcement for other activities), see "reports" from previous sessions, learn more on the "info" tab, change app "settings", or "start" a game.

The reports screen looks like this.  You can look at one user at a time and view them by skill/activity or by session date.  This is always a must-have for any app I use in therapy these days!

When you click on a specific skill or date, this screen appears showing the percentage correct for each date. Great for progress monitoring and easy to print or e-mail to yourself, parents, and teachers!

The settings on the app can be found here:
Use Alternate Count - I'm really not sure what this is but will find out and report back!
Enable Audio - questions read aloud
Show Instructions - Helpful the first time through but not necessary afterward.
Automatic Paging - I typically leave this off to allow for continued work on a skill but feel free to get wild and turn it on!
Random Paging - I would definitely recommend having this on.  It helps to randomize the screens shown but as discussed later, doesn't always work when multiple players are used.
Enable Reward - This enables the students to work towards earning enough "paint brushes" to be rewarded with a painting time.  When in groups, I like to turn this off and offer it through the home screen when we have completed the activity.  For individuals, or the right groups, it can be left on!
Award Counter - how many "paint brushes" they need to earn before a painting session.

After clicking "start" you can add or choose players.  Then you use this screen to choose their activities.  My tip here would be to not choose the same activity for all students.  I found that when I did this, students would get the same person/object right after the other student had completed this task.  I really hope VSC looks at this and finds a way to truly randomize the presentation of stimuli.  Also, I found that when you choose more than 1 area for a student, it does not "shuffle" stimuli from all areas selected.  Instead, you are given all 30 of one type before the next type starts.  This is probably the only thing that really irks me when using this app.  Definitely not a deal-breaker but could be improved to provide an even better app experience!

Once the app begins, you are given a screen with a photo cue of the person/animal/object/place/food/clothing/transportation you are having the student describe.  There are hints at the bottom to help the students know what to say about the stimuli.  We use them as instructional and then will not use them when the students get better at describing.  You can also record their responses and play them back.  We've used this to check together with the student that they covered all of the necessary areas of attributes.

In the Following Directions area you will see this screen.  The voice will ask the student to "show them" something that ________.  Students simply touch the correct answer and move on to the next screen.

After a student earns enough "paint brushes" (earned each time you press the green check mark button) they have the opportunity to draw/paint.  This is strictly reinforcement but we often use it a bit differently.  I tell the student to draw something from the category they were describing (e.g. draw an animal) and the other student has to guess what it is.  You can also choose to skip painting and continue with your activity.

This is what the screen looks like for painting.  The kids get a little frustrated when the paint lines get a mind of their own (see the "h" and "m" above) when students move too quickly.  Overall, they do love this part of the app!

Overall, this is a very good app for targeting describing/attributes.  Here is my quick pros/improvements list:
Pros:
  • Great pictures, audio, and artwork overall.  VSC has really improved their apps!
  • Perfect types of cues given during describing work.
  • Painting portion is motivating and versatile.
  • Data tracking included in the app with the ability to print/e-mail the progress.
  • Keeps data stored on the app for each student!
  • Great for most Pre-K/Elementary students.
Improvements:
  • The orientation of the app does not rotate if the iPad is turned the other way.  This means that the app is upside down in my slanted case unless I take it out and manually rotate the iPad in the case.
  • I would love to be able to select multiple things for a student to describe and have it really randomize them all together (eg Moving from food on one stimuli to animal on the next).  Students sometimes tired of describing the same type of thing.
  • Trivial detail but improvement of the painting portion with regards to the jagged ends that appear at times would lessen frustration.

Overall a great app.  It is currently available for $9.99 in the app store.

However, you can also enter to win a copy below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: VSC provided a copy of this app for review.  No other compensation was provided and all opinions are that of the author.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1,700/1,800 Party!

This is just a quick post to serve as a huge thank you to EACH of you that read and follow Sublime Speech!  I particularly want to thank those that "like" Sublime Speech on facebook!  You each inspire me to be creative and to make my therapy better each day for the students that I have the privilege to work with!


As a huge thank you for reaching our 1,700 and 1,800 milestones this month, I'd like to offer free TpT products to 18 winners!  Enter below via Rafflecopter and good luck!  Thanks again for being truly amazing!  I can't wait to celebrate the big 2K soon!

Apps By EdNinja - Review and Giveaway

April is Autism Awareness month and so many great App creators have offered up highly discounted and free apps to professionals to utilize with special populations.  When I was looking through those great apps, one popped up that I hadn’t heard of from a company called EdNinja.  (Find out more about their company on their website)  I downloaded the “Sequences for Autism” app and was so impressed!  I am so excited that EdNinja asked that I review a few of their other new apps that I use in therapy with elementary students of varying needs.  They have also offered up a ton of free app codes for you to win so don’t miss out on that below!

This app was developed by autism therapists for children with austism and other special education needs.  It aims to develop self-help skills through their 16 stories broken down into a systematic process.  These sequences target skills for self-help, school and home environments.  They can also facilitate storytelling abilities, language skills, and more.
To use the app, you can add a player to utilize and customize with a photo or character.  You can always change the name, picture and play options (time limit, helps, puzzle frames, story title, sheets text, reading, numbers, graphic content, and voice) by pressing the “i” icon next to the student’s profile on the main page!
Once in the app, simply choose a sequence or home/school/self-help skills activities to begin.  After choosing, the sequence automatically appears.  Students drag and drop the sequence in the correct order.  If it is incorrect, the game will “spit” the section back up to the top and play a buzzer noise.  You can easily change game options (time limit, helps, puzzle frames, story title, sheets text, reading, numbers, graphic content, and voice) by pressing the pause button from inside the sequence and then the “settings” button.  This is also how you replay the sequence, go home, or hear the directions again.
(^Shown with puzzle frames)
(^Shown without puzzle frames)
Once correctly completed, the story is read back to the student in the correct order and a reinforcer is shown.
When you have completed a sequence, a star will then show next to that activity in the listing of available sequences.  You can also view each player’s “Play History” by accessing it via the “i” next to their icon in the first screen.  This will show each time they played a sequence and their number of errors, helps, and points.  This is very useful for tracking data for students. 
Another great tool is the Admin (Sensei) panel.  From here you can manage the content by managing categories, editing sequences, adding custom sequences.  These custom sequences are perfect for real-life sequences that are important to your students but not available in the pre-made stories.  You can also utilize this tool for social stories, expectations, and social situations.  It is fully customizable with photos, voice recordings, and categories.  It is very simple to set up as well!  You can also add a new “activity” set in which you can organize similar activities for students to work through.  I made a “Social Situations” activity for use with my higher functioning students who love the app.

Overall, this app is very impressive.  Here is my quick pros/improvements list:
Pros:
  • Amazing and clean animations/graphics:  These are easy to understand, realistic, and useful.  They are also multicultural which is always important!
  • Easy to use app:  I took no time at all to figure this one out.  Even the customizing and adding players is incredibly easy to do which makes this a go-to app for sequencing.
  • Great versatile content:  I even use this app with my language kids that simply need work on sequencing. 
  • Motivating theme: My students love the thought that they are Speech Ninjas.  This app is very motivating for them.  The stars they receive for accurately completing the sequence is also motivating.
  • Español:  This app can be changed into Spanish!  Bilingual SLPs rejoice!
  • Support: EdNinja offers quick and helpful support and they have listened to all suggestions so far and made some great updates!
  • Elementary: A great tool for the elementary/Pre-K SLP.
  • Affordable: Yes, I got this app for free during their special for Autism Awareness month… BUT, it’s only $4.99 in the App Store which is completely reasonable, in my opinion, for the content and customizing of this app!

Improvements:
  • Accent: The narration is sometimes a bit difficult for my Midwestern students to fully understand.


Sequences is much like the Sequences for Autism but is more geared toward children working on communication and learning skills rather than self-help routines.  However, several of the features of this app are similar so I will not re-address those.  It also allows for adding of customizable players or use of “guest” players.  Then you choose a Sequence or Activity to begin.  The “i” icon on the players home screen is not where customizing occurs in this app. Instead, customizing is done within the sequence by selecting the “settings” gear at the top while in the sequence.  It allows for customizing of the puzzle frames, reading, picture text, story title, and numbers.
The difference in this app is that, when the student drags them into the sequence in the wrong order, they are not automatically returned to the top.  Rather, when the student presses "read story", the story will prompt the student to try again:
Once correct, the story is read in sequence back to the student and a reinforcer is shown:
 The completed sequences show the number of stars earned by each sequence in the main page:

 The parent/teacher section of this app is great and has many of the same features of the Sequences for Autism.  You can add sequences, customize, and more... after you draw your access pattern:
 From the main Parent-Teacher screen, you can go to sequences or records:
 In the records section, you can get data from each time your student completed the activity.  This is great in-app tracking that allows you to focus on therapy instead of tracking data!
If you choose to, you can create your own story with sequences.  I love this and it has so many applications.  You can use it for social stories, introduction of concepts and timelines, and other taks.  However, one of the coolest ways to use this feature is to have your students narrate/develop a sequence.  We worked on sequencing "Playing a Game" with some of my 2nd graders.  They LOVED it and are so proud of their creation.
 Choose a name for the sequence and then continue with the self-explanatory directions.
Once assembled, drag them into the correct order and enjoy!

Overall, again this app is very impressive.  Here is my quick pros/improvements list:
Pros:
  • More great animations/graphics:  These are easy to understand, realistic, and useful.  They are also multicultural which is always important!
  • Easy to use app:  Everything is easy to use and user-friendly..
  • Great versatile content: Great for expressive and receptive tasks.
  • Motivating theme: My students love the thought that they are Speech Ninjas.  This app is very motivating for them.  The stars they receive for accurately completing the sequence is also motivating.
  • Español:  This app can be changed into Spanish!  Bilingual SLPs rejoice again!
  • Support: EdNinja offers quick and helpful support and they have listened to all suggestions so far and made some great updates!
  • Affordable: Only $3.99 in the App Store!
  • Elementary: A great tool for the elementary/Pre-K SLP.
Improvements:
  • Accent: The narration can be a bit difficult for my Midwestern students to fully understand but typically not to the point where they would misinterpret the meaning..
  • Crash: Every so often this app will crash when I first open.  However, this has not happened on the second time I open it. 
This straight-forward app is a great addition to a therapy room.  I have used it as an add-on activity to several of my pragmatic language and social skills groups.
 When you first begin the app, choose or add a player.  you can customize by tapping the "i" icon by their icon.  Several changes can be made here.
 Once a player has been chosen, the app allows you to choose between 4 given expressions.
 It then shows a quick scene of a child feeling Happy, Sad, Angry, Scared and asks the student to create a face to reflect that emotion.
 Students drag and drop components of a head to reflect the emotion.  If incorrect, their answer is spit back over to the side.
 Once completed, a final product is shown with an animation followed by reinforcer stars.
Overall, a great app with so much promise!  Here is my quick pros/improvements list:
Pros:
  • Even more great animations/graphics:  These are easy to understand, realistic, and useful.  They are also multicultural which is always important!
  • Easy to use app:  Everything is easy to use and user-friendly.
  • Perfect Expansion App: I use this to model facial expressions and in conjunction with many other pragmatic language and social skills groups.
  • Motivating theme: My students love the thought that they are Speech Ninjas.  This app is very motivating for them.  The stars they receive for accurately completing the face is also motivating.
  • Español:  This app can be changed into Spanish!  Bilingual SLPs rejoice yet again!
  • Affordable: Only $3.99 in the App Store!
  • Perfect for elementary students or severe older students.
Improvements:
  • Incorrect faces: We would love to be able to keep the face as incorrect to problem-solve with our students.
  • Limited: Currently there are 4 emotions shown.  I hope that they expand the number included, that would be awesome! 

So, overall I'm a HUGE fan of EdNinja.  I really don't like to throw that around if it isn't true!  I just love their graphics and the fact that they have developed apps in an area of need for so many professionals.  We have so enjoyed these apps and now here is your chance to do the same:

Enter to Win:
Below are THREE separate entries for each App!  Please enter for those apps that you feel would be beneficial to you in providing therapy.  Enjoy and best of luck to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Like EdNinja on Facebook and Follow @EdNinjaApps on Twitter!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Into Speech Blog Hop

Welcome to the final stop in the amazing Spring Into Speech Blog Hop!  I hope you've had fun and found some amazing resources from our awesome blogger participants!  If this is your first stop, click the flower below to be taken back to the first blog.  If you're new to blog hops, here's how it works: Each blogger in the hop has a flower graphic included in their post that features 1/2 letters.  "Hop" from blog to blog and collect these letters in order to solve the phrase!  Each blogger has an image in their post to take you to the next blog and help  you get around the hop easily.  Once you have collected all of the letters, come back here to enter the Rafflecopter drawing below!

Now on to the freebie!  I have also created a fun spring-themed resource for you and your speech rooms!



Spring Showers Following Directions is an activity to target following simple 1-/2-/3-step directions.  Included are:

 48 directions cards and 12 game-play cards...

as well as 6 game-play mats and 6 blank cards for customizing!

Students work to either gather as many umbrella cards as possible or choose a umbrella design at the beginning of the game and work to collect that particular type of umbrella card.

To download this activity click here!

And now... the completion of the hop is here.  If you are just now starting, or have missed a few blogs I suggest clicking the blue flower below to be taken back to the first blog!


Now on to the big prizes!  The 17 amazing bloggers have come together to offer you the following prizes:
1st Prize: $50 TpT Gift Certificate
2nd Prize: $30 TpT Gift Certificate
3rd Prize: $20 TpT Gift Certificate

To enter, first find the hidden flower clues on each blog post.  Then, unscramble the flowers as shown below to create a phrase.  Finally, simply enter the phrase as it is written into the Rafflecopter below.  A winner will be announced on April 16th!  Good luck and enjoy the freebies!



For your reference, here are a list of all participating blogs in the hop: