For iPad – AUD$8.49
I was excited about the prospect of using PrepositionBuilder in the classroom. Students sometimes have difficulties understanding that prepositions link nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. Bring in the iPad and PrepositionBuilder and you can use it as part of your literacy block activities.
Like all Mobile Education Store apps, PrepositionBuilder launches on the settings screen, where you can add multiple students and customise the app settings for each profile. You can switch on or off the following:
- audio instructions,
- correct answer reinforcement, and
- the option to record the correct answer.
I went through all nine preposition categories with my students; and each category had 21 preposition questions with between 3-4 preposition words to work on. The goal is for the student to view a cartoon image and partial sentence and then drag the word they think is correct from a choice of 3 similar prepositions up to the sentence strip. Overall, the students I used PrepositionBuilder with were able to visually interpret the pictures correctly on their first to third attempt. The images are appealing to children in the 5-10 year age category. Some students thought that they were really funny and wanted to create their own funny images after using the app.
In our literacy unit we were learning about reading visual literacy. This is the ability to see, to understand, and ultimately to think, create, and communicate graphically. Generally speaking, the visually literate viewer looks at an image critically with an eye for the intentions of the image’s creator. The first level of visual literacy is the basic identification of the subject or elements in a graphic. Understanding what we see and comprehending visual relationships is important. These higher-level visual literacy skills require critical thinking, and they are essential to a student’s success where information is conveyed through visual formats. It is great that every question in PrepositionBuilder requires students to ‘read’ the visuals as well as the written sentence.
While I generally liked the format and images associated with PrepositionBuilder, I thought that some of the images could be (and were) interpreted by students incorrectly. One student was visibly perplexed when explaining to me that “The family was driving to the grocery store.” because the car was not parked and was moving towards the store and it couldn’t possibly be ‘at’ the grocery store when the wheels were still moving. We do teach our students to be critical thinkers!
Another student thought that “The girl is riding her bike to school.” was more appropriate than ‘at’ because people were waving at her as if she had just got there.
All of my students answered the question wrong about the library. They thought it should be “The girl is reading a book at the library.” rather than ‘to’ the library because it didn’t make sense to them and the girl was at the library – just not inside. I had to explain that they had to look at all of the clues in this picture. The library had a face and a speech bubble.
All of these student discussions led to the students using more expressive language. I wasn’t expecting this to happen on such a large and lively scale, which made it a fun and teachable moment!
What do I like about PrepositionBuilder?
- I like the cartoon images and the humour in them, which I have come to expect from Mobile Education Store. Students tend to respond better to learning which involves some form of visual supports.
- I also like that you can have multiple users and can email results to parents or teachers.
- I think that the stepped animations were a great idea to help motivate students to successfully reach the end of the next level (so they could view the next part).
- It is great to see that when a student gets an incorrect answer, the app will show a picture and a written sentence of that preposition in its correct form.
What could be improved?
- Although I had lively discussions with my students about some of their answers and explanations about preposition questions, I think that some of the pictures were a little confusing. Perhaps short animations could be added in a future version or update (similar to those included in TenseBuilder).
- I would like to be able to generate a batch email that could include all of my student’s progression through the app, instead of single emails for each user. While it is good to see that a user can access their individual results, it would be more beneficial to see the actual question they got incorrect (and perhaps the answer they originally input). This could help me plan further follow-up activities.
- I found it confusing that the app didn’t advise the user that they had finished the section (other than the animation), it kept going, repeating only certain questions over and over again. This repetition did not seem to be related to any incorrect answers recorded earlier. It would be great if you could use a pop-up option to return to the same set or continue on a different set.
- More prepositions please or the ability to change the combinations of the preposition sets.
Overall, I like the format of PrepositionBuilder. It is in an easy to use format, and is visually appealing to students. It is a great tool for the classroom.