Monday, July 22, 2013

App Review & Giveaway: Describe it to Me

I'm so excited to bring you some info on the latest app by Smarty Ears Apps - Describe It To Me.  This app, like all of those developed by Smarty Ears, was designed by a certified speech-language pathologist. The coolest thing about this app is that it uses a game show format to build receptive and expressive language skills.  The app description states that Describe it To Me is "designed to help clients build a deeper understanding of everyday items."  But you can do so much more with this app than that! (More on that later.)

Getting Started:
Before we start, I wanted to share a few features that are available from the home screen.  Support: This button allows you to watch a video tutorial on using the app, view a description of the app, backup/restore the app, and email Smarty Ears for support.  More Apps:  View more of the apps available from Smarty Ears.  Report Center:  This is where you can go to view the data from your Describe it to Me sessions.

When you're ready to begin, tap Play.  You will need to add a player to begin.  You can manually add a player or import players from Therapy Report Center. When you add a player, you can choose to import a photo (from the camera or photo roll) or use one of the many built-in avatars.  The screenshot below shows you an example of both an avatar and photo icon.

From this screen, you can also adjust the settings for the app.  You can choose what happens when the student is incorrect (buzz or remove the item), choose visual/auditory reinforcement, choose whether or not to display points, and choose whether or not to use a spinner.  From this screen, you can also customize the word list (below) by selecting/deselecting words (below). For example, if you are using with younger kids, you might want to keep the vocabulary more simple.

Using the App:
Once you have your players added/selected and your settings selected, you are ready to begin.  You can use this app with up to five players. The players will be displayed on the spinner.  The target word/object is displayed on the television screen and the question type is displayed above the screen.  You can change the target word by pressing the forward/reverse buttons on the side of the screen and switch from receptive/expressive targets by sliding the button to R/L.  Change students by tapping the avatar of the desired player.

In the receptive mode, the student is given questions about the object with four possible answers.  There are six questions for each item (located along the top of the TV screen).  These can be changed by sliding the indicator icon.  The questions are related to:







I used the same object for each question type so you could get an idea of the question asked.  The questions are generally the same for each object.

For the expressive component, the same six question types are present and the questions that are asked are the same as in the receptive component.  However, in expressive mode, the student must respond verbally.  You can score a student's responses by tapping Correct/Almost/Incorrect.

When you're finished with your session, tap DONE.  As with most Smarty Ears apps, Describe it to Me has built in data collection and will generate reports based on your sessions.  You may view/email these reports, or export to Therapy Report Center.

Describe it to Me has a few different types of reinforcement.  First, do you remember the settings?  You could select Visual and/or Auditory Reinforcement.  The visual is shown below.  The auditory is a sound that occurs when the student gets the item correct.

In addition, Describe it to Me provides rewards whenever a child gets 10 correct answers in a row:

These rewards will be stored in the player profile of the app.

Describe it to Me has built in homework sheets that you can email to a parent or email to yourself for printing.  We all know that carryover is essential and what better way to promote carryover than home practice!

Eliminate 1:

Circle 3:

And that's Describe it to Me!  Here's what I think:

The Pros:
  • I've often used a "Describing Hierarchy" in my therapy sessions that is somewhat similar to the question prompts in this app.  I've found using an approach like this to be helpful for students with word retrieval difficulties.
  • Receptive/Expressive components in the same app!  We all have mixed groups, right?  This app makes working with mixed groups easy!
  • The app description says that is was designed to be used to build a deeper understanding of everyday items.  It really can be used for so much more:  increasing vocabulary, answering wh- questions, use and comprehension of categories, use and comprehension of attributes, part/whole relationships, object functions, word retrieval, etc.
  • I don't have an EET, but have read up on it a bit.  This app looks like it focuses on similar concepts and can be used in conjunction with EET.
  • I love the built-in home practice sheets! They can easily be shared with teachers or parents for printing.
  • Built in reinforcement and data collection are always big pluses in my book.  Because of the reinforcement and fun game show format, kids may be more motivated to practice skills using the app than without it.

The Cons:
  • I've turned the spinner on.  I've turned the spinner off.  I cannot notice a difference either way.  
  • I would love to be able to record expressive responses.  With that said, I know that adding a recording feature would likely increase both the price and storage space of the app, so I can live without that feature.

The Bottom Line:
Describe it to Me is a great app that can be used to address so many language targets.  This app is fun and motivating for students, not to mention affordable.  Describe it to Me features similar concepts as the EET and is a great addition/companion to the EET.  I cannot wait to try this app with some of my students with word retrieval difficulties because I know it will make a difference!  As of this posting, Describe it to Me is on sale for $4.99 in the App Store.  The regular price of this app is $9.99.  Smarty Ears was kind enough to provide a copy for me to give away today.  To enter, use the Rafflecopter below.

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