Monday, October 15, 2012

App Review & Giveaway: Tense Builder

Back again with another app from Kyle over at Mobile Education Store.  This time we have Tense Builder!   Tense Builder is designed to help students learn how to identify and use correct tense forms.  Each target verb (right now there are 42, with the intent to expand to 60) has a movie clip to illustrate that verb using the future tense, present tense, and past tense.  For example, the video clip for "play" shows a child getting ready, playing, and completing a video game.

How it Works:

Upon opening the app, you'll be taken to the start up screen.  Here you can enter a student's name.  The app allows you to input only one student at a time.  This isn't overly concerning to me - you'll see why a little later on.  I used "Sample Student" as the student name.  Then you select the settings you wish to use...

The Settings:

Audio Instructions:
If you have the Audio Instructions "On," as you may have guessed, a narrator will give you step by step instructions throughout the lesson.  If you prefer to instruct the student yourself, you can turn this option off.

Correct Answer Reinforcement:  
If you have this option "on," when the child selects a correct answer, you get a verbal reinforcement (e.g., "That's right.  This picture shows something that is happening now.  The present tense of 'play' is 'is playing.'  The boy is playing the video game").  If you turn this option off, you still get acknowledgement of the correct response, but not the full explanation as to why the response is correct.  I prefer to have the option "off" for my preschoolers.  The correct answer reinforcement is a bit wordy for the little guys, but can be quite beneficial for older students.

Record Correct Answer:
You have the option of having the student record the sentence using the appropriate verb tense after they provide a correct receptive response.  Great for reinforcement!  Also, what child doesn't like to record their voice?  I would guess that most people would leave this option on.  However, you may want to turn it off if you were working solely on receptive identification of verb tense.

Level of Play:
Level 1:  In this level you see the movie clip, then are shown three still pictures from the clip.  A recorded voice reads a sentence (e.g., "The boy is playing the video game").  The student must then select the picture that best illustrates this sentence.

Level 1
Level 2:  In this level, you are shown the same video clip as in Level 1.  However, you are shown one picture and asked to fill in a blank within the sentence (e.g., "The boy ___ the video game").  This level would not be the best option for non-readers.

Level 2 with 6  choices
Max # of Level 2 Choices:
Here you can select the number of choices that are shown for Level 2 responses (3-7).

You can select the tense that you would like to target - future, present, or past. You can also target a mix of the tenses by selecting "all."   

Another great feature!  You can select whether you would like to target "regular" or "irregular" verbs!  You can also select "both" to include a mix.  

Select Verbs:
You can select this option to choose specific verbs you would like to target during your session.  I used this option because I frequently target "Subject is Verbing" sentence forms during my session.  With this option I could select which present tense verbs follow this format and which were more concrete for my little guys (e.g., I chose verbs like "play" over verbs like "become").

Select from a list of included verbs

Lesson Style:  
This option basically dictates what will happen if a student selects an incorrect response.  If you select "Long," you will get quite a bit of information on each verb and each tense - whether it is regular or irregular, and what the verb looks like in each tense (see below).  In the "Short" lesson style, the student will be told why their response is incorrect, but they will not get a complete run down of each tense of the verb.

Video Tutorial:

From the setting screen, you can watch a video tutorial on how to use this app.  A very nice feature!

Using the App:

Once you have selected all of the options you wish to use, tap "Play" from the bottom menu.  You will be shown an image like this one -

From here, you can choose "Next Sentence" to select a different verb target."  You can also select "Play Full Lesson" to learn how to use each tense of the verb (similar to what is shown in the "Long" lesson style when a child selects an incorrect response).  The final option is "Play Movie" to continue with the selected verb.  I used Level 1 with my students.  At this level, when the movie has finished, you will see a sentence along with three stills from the clip:

After selecting the correct response, you will be prompted to record the sentence:

Once you have recorded, you can save the recorded sentence.  Remember how I said that I wasn't too concerned that you could use only one student at a time?  Here's why...When you save a response, you can assign any file name you would like (i.e., student name & date).  

The app will also take data for you, which you can email to yourself.  

What I like about this app:

  • The versatility!  I can work on regular present tense with my preschoolers, then move on to a group of third graders and work on irregular past, etc.
  • The movie clips.  They're simple and relatable for the children.  In addition, you could probably use them for simple language sampling (First, next, last) and narrative development (use the videos as story starters).  
  • The ability to target both receptive and expressive abilities.  Receptive:  Level 1 - selecting the appropriate picture to match the spoken sentence; Expressive:  Both levels - recording the student's response.
  • The detail of the lessons are great for older students, English Language Arts instruction, and for English Language Learners.

What changes I would have liked to see:

  • The data collection - I like that the app tells you how many items were correct on the first response, second response, and third response.  However, the app does not give you the percentage correct.  I suppose you could go back and figure out the math, but if an app is going to collect data , I'd love to see the percentage included.
  • You really cannot use the data collection feature with a group.  I don't feel that I would need to add my entire caseload onto an app like this, but it would be nice to collect data for maybe 2-5 students in a group. 

The bottom line:
Mobile Education Store has another winner with this app!  Overall it's very versatile, can be used for different age groups, and can be used to target more than just verb tense!  I would definitely recommend this app for SLPs, ELA teachers, and ESL teachers.  

If you've been considering this app, I hope you found this review helpful.  If you'd like to see Tense Builder in action (and to check out a couple of the verb videos), check out this clip from YouTube:

Like what you see?  Enter using the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy for yourself!  Tense Builder is normally $14.99 in the App Store.

Disclaimer:  Although Kyle at Mobile Education Store was kind enough to provide me with a code for this app review, and another to give away, the opinions are 100% my own. :)

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