PrepositionBuilder

Preposition builder icon 2 PrepositionBuilder by Mobile Education Store

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.

PB1Like 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

10 Must Have Educational Christmas Apps

10 Educational Christmas Apps pic

You better watch out, You better not cry
You better not pout, I’m telling you why..
iTeach: Apps for the Classroom has the best apps for you.
I’ve been making a list, and checking it twice,
To try to find apps that will en-tice!
This page has the best apps for you.

Who said learning and Christmas fun can’t go together? 
The 10 Must Have Educational Christmas Apps can be used at school or at home. 

Ho Ho Ho!

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Kids Christmas Pattern Game logoKids Christmas Pattern Game
by Laura Bangerter facebook logo

(Universal iDevice – Free )
Kids Christmas Pattern Game is a fun educational game for kids from 4 years. The game is played by identifying a picture that is missing from a pattern or sequence. The game gets progressively harder; from simple to complex repeating patterns and sequences.  This a great app for developing mathematical thinking and visual discrimination. Children will love this app. Check it out!

Christmas matching game logoChristmas Matching Game
by Good Neighbor Press facebook logo

(iPad – Currently $0.99)
Christmas Matching Game requires players to identify images that match with target images. They must then drag and drop them alongside the target. It is a short fun festive game, and is ideal for students with short attention spans or that require alternative modes of learning. It is great for developing visual discrimination, memory and fine motor skills in a fun and festive way. Check it out!

Santa's tap and match logoSanta’s Tap & Match
by Cambridge English Online facebook logo
(iPad and iPhone version – Free)
Santa’s Tap & Match is a memory game that involves concentrating on a sequence of events involving 4 Christmas picture tiles, recalling the steps in the sequence and reproducing it. Some tiles also have audio which may support players that are still developing their visual discrimination and memory skills. The sequences get longer and quicker as the game progresses. Santa’s Tap & Match is ideal for young learners and learners with special needs. Check it out!

Snowman Math logoSnowman Math (Santa’s Christmas Village)
by EnsenaSoftfacebook logo

(Universal iDevice – $0.99)
Snowman Math involves your children answering simple addition and subtraction questions. The snowman is made from random parts so it is not always the same snowman each time the game is played. It has great music and festive sound effects. Children can visualise the numbers in the form of candy canes. This helps with early counting and is useful for learners that need visual supports. It includes a point system and rewards. Snowman Math is suitable for ages up to about 8 years. Check it out!

Christmas Jigsaw puzzles 123 logoChristmas Jigsaw Puzzles for Kids 123 – Fun Learning Game for Kids by GiggleUp Kids Apps 
(iPad and iPhone versions – FREE) facebook logo
This fun festive jigsaw puzzle app is suitable for children aged 1-6 years. You can customise the  number of pieces from 2 up to 16, to suit your child’s level of game play. Select a puzzle subject by pressing an object that is missing from the main picture. Cute pictures and playful animations are sure to make this puzzle game a favourite. Christmas Jigsaw Puzzles 123 helps to improve concentration, problem solving, and memory. This app will be a favourite with younger children. Check it out!

First words christmas logoFirstWords Christmas by Learning Touch facebook logo
(Universal iDevice – $1.99)
FirstWords Christmas is a festive spelling app designed for children aged to about 7 years. It has 40 beautifully illustrated Christmas words and matching holiday sounds, including sled, chimney, star and more. You will find all your favourite festive words here. As children tap the letter they can hear the letter name being said and when the word is complete, the word is spelled and the related animation moves. FirstWords Christmas is sure to make your children merry!

Christmas PostPad logoChristmas ~ PostPad by Tapfuze
(iPad – Currently $0.99 from $1.99)
Christmas ~ PostPad is a magical way to build and share beautifully crafted holiday cards with your family and friends. There are over 19 custom designs. This app could be used for home or school. At school, it could be used as part of a literacy activity or for just fun festive creativity. Children can add their own photos and then save the completed cards or email them to family and friends. Christmas ~ PostPad helps to foster creativity in children (and adults) of all ages!

Preschool Christmas Kitty logoPreschool Christmas Kitty by Irina Koenig
(Universal iDevice – $1.99) facebook logo
Preschool Christmas Kitty is a jolly jingle app designed to educate children in a fun and festive way. It features over 230 games including:  matching objects; spot the difference; where is the object?; picture puzzles; patterns; catch the snowflakes; and find the right images. Preschool Christmas Kitty is suitable for children aged up to about 6 years. Children receive rewards and parents/educators can track progress. It is sure to be popular with many children.

TES Christmas HD logoTES Christmas HD by TSL Education Ltd
(iPad and iPhone – FREE) facebook logo
TES Christmas features 3 educational maths games with a Christmas theme. Great for school use, and fun for all of the family. The games are: Elf Flinger – where children fling Santa’s elves into the air to catch the presents; Bell Ringer – where children have to copy a sequence of bells; and Add with Santa – where children win carrots for Rudolph by solving addition questions. TES Christmas helps to build math fluency, memory and motivation, and hand-eye coordination. It is fun and engaging, and children won’t even realise that  they are learning!

Scrap It christmas HD logoScrap It: Christmas HD by Dirk Bost
(iPad – FREE – IAP $0.99)
Scrap It: Christmas HD brings out the inner creativity in you and your children. Designed to be used before and after the holidays, it is just like using regular scrapbooking materials. Scrap It: Christmas can be used for Christmas collages in the classroom, as a gift for parents or relatives, or as a tool for other curriculum subjects. Children (young and old) will love making new festive themed scrap pages!

Please CLICK the images below for
more great Christmas Apps!

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10 Must Have Fun Christmas Apps

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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring … except for Santa Klaus
[work with me and rhyme it with house!].
The stockings were hung by the mantle with care,
in hopes that new iPads would soon be in there!

This list won’t help the children receiving iPads on the BIG day
but if you already have one, check out iTeach: Apps for the Classroom’s fun Christmas array. 

Ho Ho Ho!

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slingin' santa logoSlingin’ Santa By Zivix LLC facebook logo
(Universal iDevice – Free )

Slingin’ Santa is a fun game for kids under 11 years. The player is required to launch presents into the chimneys of passing houses, but only for the good kids, not the naughty ones! The levels increase in difficulty and require children to use a little bit of strategic thinking and hand-eye coordination. This will be a firm favourite with the kids (big and small!).

racing santa logoRacing Santa by Top Free Games facebook logo
(Universal iDevice – Currently Free;  was $0.99)
Racing Santa is great fun for kids that are over 4 years old. It is a physics based slide and jump game where the player is required to control Santa to complete each level by travelling a certain distance. Make sure that Santa completes the level before the grinch-like monster gets him. The game has 5 worlds and 40 levels. Each level gets progressively harder. I love this one.

Cut the rope xmas logoCut The Rope: Holiday Gift by Chillingo facebook logo
(Universal iDevice – Free;  Full version $4.99)
Cut The Rope: Holiday Gift is a great physics based game. Swipe your finger to cut the ropes and feed Om Nom candy. Think before you cut though. There are many obstacles, which include spiders and spikes. In this app you can also make greeting cards and watch animations of Om Nom exploring the real world. Twenty five of 75 levels are available for free. I think it’s a great app and enjoy playing it myself!

santas crazy reindeerSantas Crazy Reindeer by Nice Touch Games facebook logo
(Universal iDevice – Currently Free;  was $0.99)
Santas Crazy Reindeer is an entertaining game where the player must round up Santa’s escaped reindeer by drawing a rope around them, and then guide them to safety by drawing a line to Santa’s stable before they encounter dangers. Hurry to catch them all and keep the Holiday spirit alive! This one is great for hand-eye coordination and visual attention, plus heaps of fun! Santas Crazy Reindeer is suitable for 4+. Check it out!

rudolph's giftRudolph’s Gift by Oceanhouse Media 
(Universal iDevice – Free) facebook logo
Rudolph’s Gift is a great game for children that are over four years old. It requires players to deliver presents to as many homes as possible by shining a light from his nose on them while avoiding obstacles in the sky. Players must use both hands to control play. This is great for hand-eye coordination and visual attention, and is plenty of fun. You can fly as different characters, and customise sleigh colours. It will be a family favourite.

elf on the shelfSlide-n-Glide- Elf on the Shelf – Christmas Game by the Elf on the Shelf CCA & B LLC facebook logo
(iPhone – Free)
Packages arrive at Santa’s Shipping Yard on special slides, and the elves have to use their Christmas magic to stack the gifts on carts and move them to Santa’s sleigh. Play the Slide-n-Glide game to help the elves get the presents from the slide to the cart! Just use your finger to pull the elf forward, then let go and see where the package lands. This is a game of strategy that your children will love. Have fun!

bo's christmas appBo’s Matching Game – Christmas Gift by Heppi
(Universl iDevice – Free) facebook logo
This Christmas game offers toddlers and preschoolers more than just a standard Memory game! It is a fun game that can be customised for different levels (6, 12, or 20 card matching game), and children will love to try the play-off feature. Bo’s Matching Game offers innovative play and educational functionalities with a Christmas vibe! Children use memory and concentration to match these festive cards. This will be a firm favourite for younger children. Check it out!

toca christmas salonToca Hair Salon – Christmas Gift by Toca Boca
(Universal iDevice – FREE) facebook logo
Cut, colour and style Santa Claus’ beard and hair! In this Christmas edition of the Toca Hair Salon, you can choose between styling Santa Claus or a funny Christmas tree! It has bonus accessories – when your children have finished cutting and colouring, they can add accessories to customise the look. This is a great cause and effect app and is a lot of fun for children aged up to about 10 years.

Christmas visualizerChristmas Visualizer by Chris Egerter
(iPad – $0.99) facebook logo
Christmas Visualizer displays a festive scene with dancing reindeer, penguins, a Christmas tree, elves, and of course, SANTA! All of the characters will react and dance to the music played from your media library. Children will be entertained by these cute Christmas characters and their cool jolly jiggling. This is a crowd pleaser for children; the young and young at heart.  Check it out.

12 days of christmas singalong12 Days of Christmas – Polk Street Press Singalong by Polk Street Press
(Universal iDevice – $0.99) facebook logo
This is a nice version of the 12 Days of Christmas song. Your children can create their own videos as they singalong  to this original music. 12 Days of Christmas is unique and beautifully illustrated. Children can play along with the app during each of the verses of the song, and they can practice their counting skills to 12 on this journey of discovery. This app is played a lot in our home and is suitable for children (of all ages!).

dreamworks dash N dropDreamworks Dash n Drop by Pikpok
(Universal iDevice – $1.99) facebook logo
This lucky 11th addition is a must have for your Fun Christmas App Collection. There’s trouble at the North Pole and the presents have been scattered everywhere! Collect and deliver presents to children around the world as you dash through the evening sky in the Guardians’ magical sleigh. Be sure to grab some elves and coins along the way, but watch out for evil Nightmare creatures who will try to stop you! Dreamworks Dash n Drop will help improve visual attention, concentration and motivation. Be sure to check it out!

angry birds seasonsAngry Birds Seasons HD by Rovio
(iPad – $0.99; down from $2.99) facebook logo
Angry Birds Seasons builds on the original Angry Birds game and extends it to a whole new level! It features different festive seasons from around the world which include Halloween and Chinese New Year. It has more than 300 levels to keep you busy. Suitable for players over four years but great for all ages. You will be wanting to play this one before your children!

Please CLICK the images below for
more great Christmas Apps!

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5 Must Have Christmas Storybook Apps

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Ho Ho Ho! Yes, it’s that time of the year again! Have you noticed that Christmas seems to come around a little quicker each year? Deck the halls with iTeach: Apps for the Classroom’s top five six SEVEN favourite Christmas storybook apps. There is a  special book at the end which is fantastic (and FREE)!

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Moving ChristmasMoving Christmas by Trusted Cape LLC
(iPad 2+ – $0.99 was $2.99; iBook $1.99)
Coming soon to other devices!
Moving Christmas has won the iTeach: Apps for the Classroom Educator’s Choice Award. It tells the quirky and humorous tale of how Frank Duffy, the IMPOSSIBLE mover, and his trusty side-kick – Bricks, help save Christmas. This version is a funny and modern and children aged 6-12 years will love it. Moving Christmas is a MUST-HAVE Christmas app. The narration and illustrations help make this app out-of-this-world! Check out my review HERE to find out more and see how it can be used in the classroom.

wubbzy logoWubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas
by Cupcake Digital Inc
(Universal [all devices] – Intro price $1.99)

Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas is a fun and engaging Christmas app suited for ages 2-6 years. It provides an entertaining look at the Wubb friends; Wubbzy, Widget, Walden and Daizy, on a special Christmas Eve adventure at the Wubbclub house. It features interactive elements, 3 reading options, activities and videos, and a Grown-Up’s Corner. All Wubbzy fans will love reading and interacting with this great version of the Christmas classic. Check out my full review HERE to find out more about how it can be used in the classroom. You can now WIN this app by joining iTeach: Apps for the Classroom Facebook! Join using the button at the top of the page.

rudolph logoRudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
by Oceanhouse Media
(Universal iOS- $4.49)

Step back in time to read and watch this timeless story unfold. Poor RUDOLPH! All the other reindeer make fun of his bright red nose and won’t let him play in their reindeer games. We know how the poem goes, but here is your chance to view and interact with the storybook app version. It has 3 different reading options and text highlighting to promote early reading development. A must for children aged 2-8 years. This classic version would make an ideal family viewing experience, and could be used very successfully in the classroom to teach about difference and diversity. Check it out!

twas night before xmas logoTwas The Night Before Christmas
by Moving Tales

iPad – $4.49; iPhone/iPod – $2.99
This version of our favourite Christmas tale is unlike any other. Twas The Night Before Christmas is uniquely animated, playful, funny and engaging. There are 3 different reading options (and I recommend that you lock the text in on the settings menu). You can record your own voice reading the poem, includes film caliber music and sound effects, and numerous animated surprises, including an hilarious one minute intricately choreographed St-nick-delivering-gifts-in-a-home-dance-routine. This is great for children aged between 7-12 years. Check it out!

a christmas carolA Christmas Carol by PadWorx Digital Media Inc
Universal iOS – $1.99
Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol has been a family favourite for generations. This app brings it into the 21st century. It features unique and engaging animations and interactive elements. The text is suitable for older readers, and there are contraptions to click on throughout. A Christmas Carol’s steampunk-style animation, illustrations, original score, and sound effects will draw you into the story’s unforgettable lessons of darkness, despair, joy and life. This app will delight children aged 9+ years. Check it out!

Christmas Eve logoChristmas Eve by Chocolapps SAS
(Universal iDevice – FREE)
I know I said 5 apps, but Christmas Eve is worthy of a jolly jingle mention. Your children and students will love reading (and watching) this Christmas Eve story unfold.  It is great for beginning readers to advanced readers, with many special and unique features I have not seen in many books. Beginning readers can view illustrations when clicking on words to facilitate comprehension, while more advanced readers can click a word to see the word spoken with a definition. Christmas Eve is a MUST HAVE for both school and home. Check it out!

slinki malini christmas crackersSlinky Malinki Christmas Crackers
by Pearson New Zealand Ltd.

(iPad – Currently $1.99 was $5.49)
Slinky Malinki Christmas Crackers is a story about the adventures of a mischievous cat at Christmas. It has  word highlighting and enables students to hear specific words, or their spelling, by touching them; both great features to support literacy learning and development. The book also has a read and record option, and colouring activities. It is suitable for readers above four years old, but younger children in this age range will need support from adults. Check it out!

Please CLICK the images below for
more great Christmas Apps!

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Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas

wubbzy logoWubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas

By Cupcake Digital ($1.99)

(Available for Apple, Android & Nook devices)

I hopey hoped to review Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas from the time I first heard of its upcoming release. When the opportunity came up, I was there in a flashity flash. Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas is a fun and engaging Christmas app suited for ages 2-6 years. It provides an entertaining look at the Wubb friends; Wubbzy, Widget, Walden and Daizy, on a special Christmas Eve adventure at the Wubbclub house.

wubbzy1

When I first opened Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas, I felt like a child opening her first Christmas present. I was pleased to see three different reading options to suit a variety of learners. They are:

  • Read To Me – which features interactive elements and a narrator reading the story with text highlighting to help promote reading development for emergent readers.
  • Read & Play – this mode is designed for early to advanced readers (or an excited parent). It has all of the interactive elements but your reader has the ability to tap the words on the page to hear them aloud. Users that can read or are developing their reading skills can read the story with appropriate support to read any unknown or difficult words. This is fantastic for reading development and helps to promote fluency and comprehension.
  • Just A Book – as the title suggests, this is a good old fashioned book option. There are no interactive elements or distractions. This option is great for all readers and could be used to promote many discussions around Christmas.

Included is a Help option, which is quite detailed. The Help screen explains all of the features of the app, including how to change the reading options, the videos and games, changing the volume and other settings, and jumping back or forward to favourite pages. I really like how Cupcake Digital have included the option to change between the reading modes at any stage of the storybook.

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Readers will be exclaiming “Yes, Yes, Yes!” (just like Walden) when they see all of the festive features included in Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas. The colouring activity will delight young readers. The three clips included in the videos section are favourites in my household, and I found myself singing the Wuzzleburg chart topper – the Wubbzy Wiggle… “Put your hands in the air, wave ’em all around…”, well I am sure you know the rest! The games in the games section are embedded within the story and are fun for kids to play. In Santa’s Sleigh Ride, they have to avoid the presents and snow balls. Wuzzle Tree Dress–up and Snowman Dress-Up are puzzle style activities. All three of these games help to improve visual discrimination and hand-eye coordination.

Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas begins in the Wubbclub house where the Wubb friends are snuggly snug in bed, until they have a surprise visitor… If you don’t know who it is, I will not reveal this or the events of the night; you will have to purchase the app to find out more about this festive adventure yourself. The digital format of this version of the famous Christmas poem is all too familiar to today’s toddlers and pre-schoolers; however, Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas has something to offer for the young and the young at heart.

As an educator, I was thrilled to see the Grown-Up’s Corner. The suggestions help to promote deep learning and aim to improve comprehension, reflection and critical thinking in all readers. I can easily see these questions being asked in a whole class discussion after viewing the storybook on the iPad or projected on an interactive whiteboard. It also provides an opportunity for both educators and speech language pathologists (SLPs) to motivate reluctant speakers to talk about events in the book. In theme with the tv series, Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas is filled with alliteration and rhyming, which are explored in any early primary or elementary school literacy curriculum.

wubbzy4

One of the things that I liked about Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas was the opportunity for the reader to control their experience by skipping pages or games. However, some parents or educators may not find this very appealing. No problemo! This could be solved on any iOS 6 device by enabling Guided Access to limit game play.

Final Thoughts…

I enjoyed the interactive experience of Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas. Wubbzy has been a mainstay in our house for several years. For households like mine, that are comprised of Wubbzy devotees, this is a must have. For those unfortunate others who are not familiar with Wubbzy and the gang, this is a great opportunity to acquaint yourself with a fun, festive Christmas app. On the Wuzzleburg scale of quality this app’s rating is Wow Wow!

How would you like to win a copy of Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas? Make sure you join iTeach: Apps for the Classroom to enter.

Lavender Lollipops! Check out the video below to see Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas in action:

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All views expressed are those of iTeach: Apps for the Classroom.

Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are

Middle school confidential 1Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are

By Electric Eggplant (valued at $2.99)

Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are is a graphic novel, written by Annie Fox, which takes a serious look at issues involving children aged between 8-14 years. Book 1, ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’, brings to light our appearance, others’ opinions of us, losing our temper, standing up for ourselves, making assumptions about people, being stressed, and liking ourselves. The scenarios in the book are the kinds of issues I see in school environments every day.

I was recently given the opportunity to use ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’ with some students with special needs aged between 9 and 13. These students had issues that come up almost every day about speaking unkindly to other people, being stressed and losing their temper (this happened on multiple occasions every day), putting themselves down and letting other people walk all over them. This is not uncommon with all children in this age group.

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I placed the app up on the interactive whiteboard and it immediately aroused curiosity. This wasn’t the type of novel that they normally read. There weren’t a lot of words and one student said that he liked it but didn’t think he could learn anything with a comic book. How wrong he was! The book is designed so that there is only a limited amount of text, which is brilliant. This provides a framework for students to be able to read the visuals and make inferences.

Each chapter in the book provides a scenario about a particular issue. At the end of each chapter there is a quiz, comment, or solution that provokes deep thinking and challenges the reader to be more proactive and positive in their personal lives. I did not read the book as a whole; I decided to work around each chapter. For example, chapter 1 focuses on appearance and how others might make remarks about it. The characters discussed how they felt and I could see nods of agreement from my students. We discussed how important it was for our health and wellbeing to stay positive and try and be more active and healthy in our everyday lives. We also discussed how we feel when these things happen to us. As a class, we brainstormed for ideas about how to be healthier and happy.

‘Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are’ was a huge success in our classroom. I used it every day in order to address real issues that were happening with my students. Often they found it hard to express themselves out loud. In this context, students were given opportunities to express themselves and their opinions and explain why they felt the way they did. It helped to further develop speaking and listening skills, and empathy.

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As part of our assessment for the English curriculum, the students were required to use visuals in order to create their own presentation. ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’ provides a rich source of visual imagery, and without these, the user would have difficulty understanding the text. As a group, students critically analyzed the layout and organization, stance and expression of the characters in the novel. This helped the students to develop their presentations using appropriate visual supports.

While I really like the format of ‘Be Confident in Who You Are’, I would like to see an option for non-readers to hear audio of the text (with different voices for the characters). Some of the students that I worked with, although in the correct age range for the book, had reading levels at grade one and would find it difficult to actually read the words.

‘Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are’ could be used in a Reader’s Theatre activity. Students become excited and enthusiastic about reading when they are presented with the opportunity to participate in Readers Theatre. Students could develop scripts, perform in groups, and practice using their voice to depict characters from the text. Through this activity, students would have the opportunity to develop fluency and further enhance comprehension of what they are reading.

Overall, ‘Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are’ was a great discussion starter and led to further engagement with values, and social and emotional health and wellbeing topics. I believe that this app helps educators and associated professionals to connect with their students in a meaningful and authentic way.

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Rainbow Sentences

Rainbow Sentences

by Mobile Education Store ($8.49AUD)

The Rainbow Sentences iPad app helps students build grammatically correct sentences. The parts of a sentence are colour-coded according to a pre-set template or they can be customised according to your own system of colour coding. The app starts off in the settings mode. This is where students are added; line and word colour-coding is changed; the difficulty level is adjusted; a customised colour theme can be added; and other items such as audio, reinforcement, and word grouping can be turned on or off.

Rainbow Sentences helps students who have trouble understanding the different parts of a sentence by grouping words into chunks. Once you have set up the app for a user, you can hand it over to your student and they can start right away. There are 55 sentences within each of the three levels:

  • Level 1 focuses on who the sentence is about and what they are doing. An example of this would be ‘The frog (who) is swimming (what)’. As the user becomes more proficient, the colour-coding can be turned off.
  • Level 2 builds on level 1 and includes who the sentence is about, what they are doing, and adds where they are doing it. An example of this would be: ‘The monkey (who) is sitting (what) next to the bananas (where)’.
  • Level 3 builds on levels 1 & 2 and includes who the sentence is about, what they are doing, where they are doing it, and adds why they are doing it. An example of this would be: ‘The dog (who) is jumping (what) toward the Frisbee (where) to try to catch it (why)’.

Check out the video below, or the images at the end of this blog, to see Rainbow Sentences in action:

The parts of the sentences are presented at the bottom of the screen out of order. There is an image depicting what the sentence is about as a visual reinforcement for the user. If you have line and word colour-coding turned on, the parts of the sentence will be in a matching colour to the lines presented at the top of the screen. The user has to drag and drop the parts onto the sentence strip at the top of the screen. The words are spoken as each part is dragged. If they are correct, the sentence is repeated back to them. They are then given the choice to record and playback their sentence and save it for later review.

The app also features a ‘show’ button in which the app will build and speak the sentence for them if they are experiencing difficulties. If the user incorrectly builds a sentence the parts are placed back down to the bottom of the screen. After a second incorrect attempt, the app will demonstrate it for the user. As the user becomes more proficient, the colour-coding can be turned off to enable full mastery of the concepts.

The user receives positive reinforcement and encouragement throughout the building process. Correct answers will result in an added bonus of a puzzle piece. The more answers that are answered correctly, the more pieces will be added. Rainbow Sentences is designed in such a way that the beginner right through to the advanced user can navigate and respond in an appropriate way for their own academic level. The colour-coding of words and lines is a fantastic way for the user to understand the concepts of grammatically correct sentences and to build them successfully, which is important to early literacy development and self-esteem. There is a section within the app called ‘Stats’ and this is where the user can view and email their performance to an educator or parent.

As an Australian educator who utilises functional grammar in the classroom, I can easily see this successfully implemented in my classroom. There were some minor issues with the custom colour-coding prior to the latest update; however, Mobile Education Store responded to my inquiry, fixed these issues, and updated Rainbow Sentences through Apple within two weeks of my original query. One little voice was heard and action was taken – thank you!

In the ‘Settings’ area there is an option to change the colour themes, which is what I have done to align the app with Australian functional grammar. Functional grammar utilises 3 colours: red for the participant (who/what), green for the process (what they are doing), and blue for the circumstance (where/why they are doing it). Check the images below to see how I set this up in Rainbow Sentences. I was delighted to find that my custom colour-coding worked perfectly and aligned with the way that I teach grammar. I know many educators will be very pleased with the ability to change the colour themes to suit their needs.

Overall, Rainbow Sentences is very easy to use, is really great for language and grammar use, and provides visual and audio stimuli for different styles of learning. The incorporation of positive reinforcement helps promote successful learning outcomes. The default format is clear, easy to use and easy to understand. The user(s) are guided by the program and they can obtain help if they need it. I really love Rainbow Sentences because it addresses curriculum statements. It also makes it easier to have successful lessons which integrate the iPad, fulfilling the need to use ICTs and mLearning in education today.

I recommend Rainbow Sentences to educators, parents, and other professionals for regular and targeted use with their students or children.

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Disclaimer: The opinions on this blog are entirely the author’s.