Saturday, February 25, 2012

App Review-Tell Me About It (Different Roads to Learning)

Tell Me About It is an ingenious app targeting language development- it teaches language concepts at increasingly difficult levels from an ABA approach and includes a familiar built in token system with adorable animations. I love this- my students are familiar with token boards, and they easily understand what is expected of them without the need for a physical token board. It also has data recording that stays in the app and can also be emailed to others.

Game Play:
There are 6 levels of play, from beginning language concepts such as labels, to the more advanced concepts of category, function and features. The levels are as follows:
Level 1- Labels; Level 2- Categories; Level 3- Function; Level 4- Feature; Level 5- Randomized Feature, Function, Category; Level 6- Shared Feature, Function,Category

Here are some sample directions from each level:

Level 1
Touch the apple(leash, apple, doorbell)
Point to the knife (zebra, knife, bowl)
Find the eyes (cereal, needles, eyes)

Level 2
Find the toy (scooter, rain boots, peas)
Find the one that is clothing (puzzle, pasta, turtleneck)
Touch the body part (foot, dish, tomato)

Level 3
Find the one that drives hurt people to the hospital (paper,iPod,ambulance)
Touch the one you keep money in (wallet, soap, jumprope)
Point to the one that lifts food (chalk, rocking chair, spatula)

Level 4
"Touch the one that you keep on a ring (wallet, key, pasta)
Point to the one that has feathers (hen, basketball, bread)
Point to the one that has a strap (turtle, lime, backpack)

Level 5
Find the one that you wear on your head (hat, bacon, fork)
Touch the one you wear on your neck (scarf, baseball, crackers)
Point to the one that has a conductor (dresser, train, chalk)

Level 6
Touch the ones that are food (squirrel, hamburger, bread)
Find the ones that are breakable ( dish eggs paint)
Point to the ones that have skin (apple, drum set, foot)

There are many, many more concepts that are addressed - colors, textures, appearance, weight, size etc. There are 235 language targets and more than 2,000 combinations of different answers, so rest assured there are a lot of concepts to work on here. The data tracking will show progress at each level, each specific word or concept and whether it was mastered or not as well. After a session you can send a Level Report through email with each concept, the date and whether the items were answered correctly. The data can also be accessed through the Teacher Console at any time.

Here is an example of what a round of game play looks like:

From the home screen go to the "Select a Child" button and select a student's name to play, or go in to the Teacher's Console to add a new name, then go back to the "Select a Child" button to begin play. The screen will show 3 pictures, and a verbal direction will be given. For example, in Level 2 you might hear "Find the utensil" (shows a choice of socks, rolling pin, or train.) If the answer is chosen correctly, verbal praise will be given, for example "Yay" "Terrific" "Good Job" "You're a Superstar" "(clapping sound)" "Well done" "Way to Go" followed by a token placed on the token strip at the bottom of the screen. If an incorrect picture is touched, the correct one will flash, along with a verbal correction, "This is the ....". (At Level 6 two items will flash, "These are the ones...) Then it will rearrange the pictures and allow you to choose again. If you get it correct the second time, verbal praise will be given but no token will be awarded. If you make an error the second time, it will automatically progress to the next set of pictures. When the token strip is filled, a short animation will play. After the animation is finished, the user is returned to the activity, and a new token strip is begun, or if the student has reached the correct number of responses for that session, a bar on the bottom of the screen will direct users to Home, Report, Replay Level, or Next Level.

Individualized Settings
The settings are customizable to each child, which is a wonderful feature. To access settings and reports for a child, I go into the Teacher's Console, and select the child I want to view. From there I can tap on that child's reports and even use the email button in the top right hand corner to email a report. I can also tap the settings button in the top right hand corner to custom settings for that child. I can choose whether labels will show on the child's screen, what level the child will begin on, also adjust the child's token board (reinforcement schedule) from 3 to 5 or 10 tokens, and also choose whether the tokens used will be random, or a specific character. There are 7 tokens to choose from- ice cream cone, star, teddy bear, dragon, monster, rocket, or balloon.

The About button on the Home page also has some general information about ABA and discrete trial training, as well as a useful tip for teachers during game play- swipe with an upward motion on the screen with two fingers to access the teacher tool bar. Through that teacher bar you can see the level the user is on, percentage of correct responses, and access the Home, Reports and Settings buttons.

Wish List
I always have a wish list so this is not an indication of app quality, just my own personal caveats. I'd love to have some control over the length of pause between the first verbal instruction and the second repetition of that instruction, or a button to replay the verbal directions-sometimes there was background noise when the verbal instructions were given, and we missed what we were supposed to touch. I'd also like settings to control which verbal praise is used, and perhaps settings where I can deselect a card. (For example, I am not sure it is necessary for students to identify a "blazer", but perhaps that is a regional difference.) Also sometimes cards came up like "Point to the one that has a back". The answer was the chair, but my student chose the cow, and I was hard pressed to explain why a cow also does not have a back. Perhaps it is a backside? Personally I would have liked to take that set out of rotation. And on the far-fetched wish list would be customizable tokens from my own pictures- Seriously-how cool would that be to have Thomas the Train tokens?

The developer's response to some of my questions:
These are all wonderful ideas but there are so many technical and coding restrictions when it comes to customizing audio and visuals that it would be really tough to implement at this time.

I would also love to include additional data- for example, whether an answer was chosen correctly after two verbal prompts or just one. The developer had excellent advice on the data collection as well:

The data collection and scoring is based on strict Discrete Trial in that only the first response is counted in the scoring. So in some sense, it is counting the prompt because if the child answers incorrectly on the first attempt, it’s scored as incorrect (-), even if they answer correctly after prompting. To stay true to DT Teaching, any target that was answered incorrectly on the first attempt is then reintroduced in the next trial (not round) and the student must answer correctly on the first attempt two consecutive times over the course of two trials for the target to be considered mastered. The number that appears in parentheses on your data sheet refers to the number of times the student has seen that target so that you can be fully aware of which targets are consistently being missed.
If you need more information on how the data is taken, refer to the “About” tab which lists a lot of the information in more detail. Also, be sure to drill down into the Report Card and select each level so that you can see progress across individual levels as well as game-wide.

I love this app, and clearly it was made with children with developmental delays in mind- It uses clear pictures and audio directions, a visual token system, and rewarding animations to keep the student engaged in the activity. And for the educator or parent there is data recording! This is an app I am very glad to have available to my students with language delays. Tell Me About It is one of several apps from Different Roads to Learning. Other Apps from this developer are Clean Up: Category Sorting, What Goes Together?, and What's That Sound? Learning to Listen and Identify Sounds