Thursday, June 13, 2013

Smarty Ears' Phono Learning Center {An App Review!}

Hi Everyone!

Hope your summer is off to an amazing start! I crazily agreed to work ESY this summer, so I'm still going strong (although a little slower than usual with my growing belly!). The good news about working with students this summer is that I got to put the new Smarty Ears app, Phono Learning Center, to use! (Thanks, Jonathan!) Although the majority of the ESY students see me for language therapy, we have several students who have severe speech and/or phonological disorders. The Phono Learning Center App is perfect for these babies! The description on the app describes it best: "Phono Learning Center (PLC) is not 'just' another articulation app. PLC is based on the evidence-based Cycles technique used specifically for those children who are unintelligible due to a sound-system disorder." Take a look at an overview of the app below:

When you open the PLC app, you can start playing by clicking on "New Session," you can find student data by clicking "Report Cards," or you can request support or find additional information or homework by clicking "Support."

If you choose "Support," these are the options. You can watch a complete video explaining the app, contact Smarty Ears, see additional apps, view homework, and more!

This is a shot of the Homework page. I love that you can email homework to parents straight from your iPad!

When you choose "New Session," you can add students and specify their information and goals. You can also import students from TRC. You can select to four students to play at a time. Here, the "primary targets" tab is highlighted. If you turn Auditory Bombardment to "On," the student is presented with a quick Auditory Bombardment balloon activity. 

You can see my added name and avatar, but you can use real student pictures as well. Here you see the Secondary Targets tab highlighted. Once you are finished adding your student's information, click "Done."

Once you're back to the student page, you can choose the "Settings" tab at the top right of the screen to modify additional options such as the level of prompts!

If you have Auditory Bombardment turned "On," each session will begin with a quick balloon activity where the students can find their words by tapping the balloons.

There are four main games to choose from:

The balloon activity has the students practice their words and drag the pictures to the hot air balloon. Each time they drag a picture to the balloon, the deflated balloon gets bigger and bigger until it finally flies away!

The second activity is matching with a twist! The picture to find is presented in the lower left corner, and the students practice their words while searching for the match!

The third activity  is a favorite for my students! Who doesn't like throwing balls of paper into a hoop?!?! The student says the target sound/word/etc. and then clicks on the paper. The paper crumbles into a ball and the students can then toss the paper into the basket!

The last activity is a puzzle. Once the student says the word/phrase/sentence, they tap the picture and it floats to the puzzle. I love that the students can guess what the picture will be! 

Finally, if you click on the "Report Cards" tab, you can select a student and view their data. I love that the data is right at your fingertips. You can share the data by clicking the "Share" button on the top right of the screen. I especially like the fact that you can differentiate between targets that were done correct and "almost." This helps me to see how close they are to producing the targets correctly or how much prompting/cueing they needed.   

A few additional notes: Overall, my students loved this app. I really appreciate the fact that it is based on the Evidence-Based Cycles Approach, and that it was made specifically for those students with more severe phonological disorders. I also love the support that comes with the Smarty Ears apps. When I first started using the app, I had not correctly chosen a target goal for a student. Because of this mistake, the app was not working correctly. I contacted Jonathan at Smarty Ears with my question and within mere minutes, he had responded with the easy answer that fixed my problem...that's great customer service! If I had one suggestion for the app:  some of the activities can get rather long in length (they don't really have a clear-cut ending), such as the Papertoss Basketball game. It keeps going until you stop it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the students like competition and keeping score, so a score-keeper would be nice! Other than that, I love the app, and the students do too!

Phono Learning Center is available in iTunes and is currently on sale for $14.99! You can snatch it up for this great price by clicking HERE. Hurry and get it while it is on will go back to $24.99 in about a week!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend! I'm off to South GA for my first baby shower!


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