Wednesday, March 20, 2013

App Review: Reading Comprehension Camp

Recently I was contacted by Jonathan at Smarty Ears about reviewing two of their apps to target reading skills.  Since the majority of my caseload is preschool, I asked Jonathan if he would agree to let one of my co-workers use the apps and write the reviews.  He was kind enough to agree.  

This review is written by Jennifer Malloy, MS, CCC-SLP.  (To see her review of Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit, click HERE).  Jenn splits her time between an elementary and middle school in my district.  Take it away Jenn!

Hi everyone!  Today I am reviewing another amazing app from Smarty Ears. This app is called Reading Comprehension Camp ($19.99 in iTunes). I have been using this app non-stop since receiving the code from Carrie. (Thanks again, Carrie!) This app is very user friendly and the students’ activity level and participation during therapy sessions has been fantastic.

The app opens to the home screen and the user has the ability to select “Student Lounge” or “Read.”
When “Read” is selected, the user is prompted to create and/or select the number of readers that will be participating in the activity. The app allows for up to four student’s data to be tracked at once.  The app allows the user to use student’s photos above their names or select an avatar.  My kids love seeing themselves!  The  “Student Lounge” allows the user to select a student and data from across all sessions for that specific user will be displayed. Perfect for quick data collection!

Now for the good stuff!  After selecting up to four readers, the app will allow the user to choose a story. The stories are rated from 1-5, increasing in length and complexity.   Under each rating, there are ten stories to choose from! 

A single picture related to the story is displayed on majority of the screen with the written print on the bottom of the screen.  This set up can be changed under settings. The font can be made larger and the picture on the screen can be made smaller.

The student has the option to listen to the story as well, by pressing the arrow button on the lower left side of the picture. 

When the student has finished reading and/or listening the story, the clinician can select the quiz button on the left hand side of the screen. This was my favorite part of the app. The quiz utilizes so many types of questions and assesses an array of speech and language concepts.

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. Why
  6. How
  7. Inferences
  8. Cause and Effect
  9. Compare and Contrast
  10. Sequencing
  11. Vocabulary/Context Clues

The quiz allows the student to read the question independently or have the question read to him/her by pressing the speaker button to the left of the question.  Four answers are displayed for the student to choose from. The student has the text displayed while answering questions to go back and look for the correct answer, if he/she is unable to remember independently.

There is a hint button that highlights the sentence in the short story that contains the answer for the student to review and then try to answer the question.

The app is very customizable to the student’s current performance level.  There are options to “Hide Image” and “Hide Text.”  “Finish quiz” can be selected at any point during the quiz, even if the student has not completed it in its entirety.  The clinician can then go to the student lounge, click on the child’s name, and view how the student answered the various questions.

How I Used the App:

  • I do not have many students that are fluent readers, however I used this app daily after receiving it.
  • ASSESSMENT:  It was progress report time and I had over 20 students with goals related to answering mixed “wh” questions to assess comprehension.  I chose the level appropriate for each student and read the story aloud to him/her. After the story I asked the posed questions and tracked the student’s answers. I did not give the students a multiple-choice option at that time. I had to see what they could do independently! During therapy sessions, however, I will give the students cues and prompts while using multiple-choice options to the posed questions. This was a great tool not only for the students, but for me as well! With ten stories in each of the levels, I did not have to read the same story 9 times in a single day!!!
  • ARTICULATION I used this app with a pair of students I currently treat for articulation. The students are beginning to read paragraphs while keeping their accuracy with target  speech sounds.  A bright red RECORD button is located on the upper right hand corner on the story display page. I had the students record their speech while reading the short story.  After they listened and assessed their own speech. One student was surprised how well he did. He said, “Miss Malloy I’m almost perfect with /r/!” 


I enjoyed this app very much. It helped while collecting data for progress reports! The students enjoyed the stories and the pictures. The students were engaged and participating during the entire session!! The app is very flexible, it lends itself to target many goals, not only reading comprehension.  The data collection is key when you have a caseload over 50!

Changes I would like to see in an update:

1. There are some typos in the stories and this really confused some of the students that did use the app for reading.  One story opens and the Zebra’s name is Zack and then changes to Zach. Not a huge change for fluent readers, but the students had difficulty with this change.  Other errors included adding words that did not belong. “Asked Zach as he they sat down to eat the cake in the kitchen.” I understand typos happen but it throws kids for a loop!
2. This one is just a quirky personal thing. On the data collection page, the month and date are transposed so instead of: Month/Day/Year it is Day/Month/Year.

Overall I thoroughly enjoy this app and I look forward to using it for many of my upcoming sessions!


PS, To watch a video tutorial and see Reading Comprehension Camp in action, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Disclaimer:  Smarty Ears provided a copy of Reading Comprehension Camp for the purposes of this review and giveaway.  However, opinions expressed are those of the SLP who provided the review.

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