Monday, September 16, 2013

App Review: School of Multi-Step Directions


Today I will be sharing another fun app by the Virtual Speech Center - The School of Multi-Step Directions! I'm guessing that all SLPs everywhere have at least ONE student working on following directions. Am I right? Typically I work on single step directions (and even 2-step directions) in the context of other therapy activities (craftivities, games, etc.). When it comes to following 3+ step directions, however, I find that I really need to target these skills on their own. Why? Because students who have difficulty with complex directions really need to concentrate to be able to hear all of the steps, remember all of the steps, and execute the directive. The School of Multi-Step Directions is perfect for these students!

I want to point out that from this home screen, you can view your reports (data from previous sessions), modify the settings, and view a list of other apps by the Virtual Speech Center.  Under the "info" tab, you are able to watch a video tutorial.  Whenever I get a new app, I typically jump right in and get started, but I do recommend that you watch the tutorial (more on that later). If you want to see the app in action, here's the Video Tutorial from Vimeo (the same as in the app):

School of Multi-Step Directions from Virtual Speech Center on Vimeo.

When you're ready to begin, tap the Start button and enter a student.  You will have three options from which to choose:  English, Math, and Chemistry.



English:


In the "English" section, you have a choice of multiple targets. They are:

Two Step Directions:

  • Level 1:  2-step directions with pictures
  • Level 2:  2-step directions with letters
  • Level 3:  2-step directions with words
  • Level 4:  2-step directions with letters and size or color concept
  • Level 5:  2-step directions with letters and first or last concept
Three Step Directions:
  • Level 1:  3-step directions with pictures
  • Level 2:  3-step directions with letters
  • Level 3:  3-step directions with words
  • Level 4:  3-step directions with letters and size or color concept
  • Level 5:  3-step directions with letters and first or last concept
Four Step Directions:
  • Level 1:  4-step directions with pictures
  • Level 2:  4-step directions with letters
  • Level 3:  4-step directions with words
Here's an example of a 2-step direction with pictures:


Students may be asked to touch, underline, cross out, highlight, or erase a picture (e.g., "Touch the house and cross out the lion").  I'll be honest here...I jumped right in and started playing and couldn't figure out how to underline, highlight, cross out, etc.  I figured out that each tool corresponded to an action, but it took me a few tries to figure out that you have to drag the tool and hold it over the picture for a few seconds!  Also I want to note that you need to touch "Go" once you've completed all the directions in order to move on to the next item.

Here's an example of directions with letters and color or size concept:

"Underline the green R and highlight the yellow E"
Math:

Just like "English," in Math, there are multiple targets:

Two Step Directions:

  • Level 1:  2-step directions with shapes
  • Level 2:  2-step directions with numbers
  • Level 3:  2-step directions with shapes and size or color concept
  • Level 4:  2-step directions with numbers and even or odd concept
  • Level 5:  2-step directions with numbers and smaller or bigger concept
Three Step Directions:
  • Level 1:  3-step directions with shapes
  • Level 2:  3-step directions with numbers
  • Level 3:  3-step directions with shapes and size or color concept
Four Step Directions:
  • Level 1:  4-step directions with shapes
  • Level 2:  4-step directions with numbers

Here's an example of 2-step directions with shapes:

"Erase the circle and touch the square"
And here's an example of 2-step conditional directions with numbers and even or odd concepts:

"If 11 is even, cross out the 6 and underline the 7.  If not, erase the 9 and touch the 3"
Chemistry:

In this last "class," you can target:

Two Step Directions:

  • Level 1: 2-step directions with one element
  • Level 2:  2-step directions with size or color concept
  • Level 3:  2-step directions with color and first or last concept
Three Step Directions:
  • Level 1: 3-step directions with one element
  • Level 2:  3-step directions with size or color concept
  • Level 3:  3-step directions with color and first or last concept
Four Step Directions:
  • Level 1:  4-step directions with one element
Notice that, in chemistry, there are different tools along the bottom.  They stand for: set temperature to cold, set temperature to hot, mix, and shake.  There are also icons on the shelf behind the table.  You may be asked to add items from this shelf (e.g., "add coloring dye," "add salt," or "add ice cube.") 

Here's a sample of a 2-step direction with size or color concept:

"Add yellow soap to the small flask and touch the big flask."

And an example of a three step directive with color and first or last concept:

"Add water to the last red flask, mix the first green flask, and touch the first blue flask."

Built-in Reinforcement:

As with most of the apps from Virtual Speech Center, School of Multi-Step Directions comes with built in reinforcement.  The default setting is to provide reinforcement after 5 correct items, but you can increase or decrease as desired.  The reinforcement is a "Pong" game that is sort of a cross between ping pong and air hockey.  Needless to say, the kids love it!


Finally, with all apps by Virtual Speech Center, you can view reports of data collected from each session from the home page.  You can view data by activity or by date.  This is great for monitoring progress over time!



Some thoughts:

I would advise that you pre-teach some of the vocabulary for Chemistry class if you're using this app with early elementary students.  They may not know words like flask or beaker.  I would also recommend pre-teaching the tools and what they do (not just for Chemistry, but in each "class").

Personally, I found it difficult to remember some of the more complex directions!  (Good thing there's a repeat button for directions!) However, if you find that they are "too easy" for you or your clients, or you want to provide distractions, you can go to settings and add in background noise!

Here's what you should take away:

Pros:

  • This app is very versatile.  You can use it not only for school aged clients, but for adults as well.
  • There are multiple levels of complexity.
  • There are three different "classes," meaning you can use the app over multiple sessions and not be dong the same thing each time!
  • There is a repeat button if your student (or you, for that matter) doesn't remember the direction.
  • Data collection is always a plus
Cons:
  • Some of the kids had difficulty holding the tool over the targets long enough to "mark" it correctly. Also, there were a few times that I had my finger directly over the target, but a portion of the tool was more to the left.  This cause the app to "mark" the picture to the left of my target.

The Bottom Line:
Multi-step directions are often difficult to target in new, motivating ways during therapy sessions.  Virtual Speech Center made this goal so easy to target and  in a fun, challenging, yet motivating way! The School of Multi-Step Directions is very versatile and can be used with students through adults.  This app sells for $18.99 in the App Store.

What are your favorite ways to target following directions?

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