Monday, September 9, 2013

App Review: Basic Concepts Skills Screener

Today is the first day of school for preschool and kindergarten in my district (the older grades start a week earlier than the little ones).  I'm excited to see the little faces!  If you don't know, I work primarily with the little guys - preschool and kindergarten.  At that age, so much of what is worked on in early childhood classrooms is also targeted in speech and language therapy.  I so frequently work on comprehension and use of basic concepts.  Because of that, I was so excited to check out Basic Concepts Skills Screener (BCSS) by Smarty Ears Apps!

This app is designed for single player assessment and has two options - the Full Screening or the Quick Screening. The full screening consists of 79 questions and according to the Smarty Ears website, takes 10-15 minutes to administer. The quick screening has 30 questions and is estimated to take approximately 5 minutes.  I'm planning on use the quick screening as part of my baseline data collection for this year.

As with the other Smarty Ears apps, this one is really easy to navigate! When you first open the app, you need to choose a language.  You can use BCSS in English and Portuguese.  (FUN FACT:  My little corner of the world has a very large Portuguese community and many of the students in my district speak both English and Portuguese!).

Under the "Info" tab, you can view a 20-page manual for the BCSS, watch a Video Tutorial, and learn more about the app and Smarty Ears.

Tap the "Add Student" button and enter the child's Name and Date of Birth:

I administered the Screener to my son (don't judge, you know you've tested/screened your own children before!)  Next you choose the full screening or the quick screening.  In the app description, it's estimated that the full screening takes 10-15 minutes and the quick screening takes about 5 minutes.  I opted to go for the full screening.  My son has good attention, is generally cooperative, and has no speech or language delays.  It did take us closer to 20 minutes and he did need encouragement to keep going.  I wanted to tell you this because, if it took him extra time to finish and he needed breaks/encouragement, your language delayed preschoolers might need the same (or even additional) modifications.

During the screening, the student is shown four pictures and asked to touch one based on a description (e.g., "Touch the balloon that is ABOVE the house"):

Here are a few other examples:

In the upper left hand corner of the screen is a "Notes" tab.  You can click this at any point and add notes for your session:

When you are finished, you can see a list of screens that have been created by student:

You can quickly determine progress by looking at the Raw Scores reported, or you can view a full report of your session.  The report includes a description of the BCSS, the child's number of correct responses, number of items attempted, and overall accuracy level:

 It goes on to list the concepts that were answered correctly and incorrectly as well as those that were skipped.  Next is a breakdown of the student's performance by concept type (e.g., comparative, spatial, temporal, etc.):

There is also a table that depicts the student's mastery of concepts by age level:

And a color coded visual of concepts depicting types that are achieved, emerging, not achieved, and not tested:

And there you have BCSS!  I love screening apps because they're a great way to collect data on your students!  Data is one of the least fun, yet most necessary aspects of our profession.  Many times, the iPad is just motivating enough to get kids to participate in baseline data collection and data collection for progress monitoring.  Working in preschool, I often get students with objectives for following directions and comprehending concepts.  This will be a great way for me to track progress this year!

BCSS can be found in the App Store.  It sells for $14.99.

Do you target basic concepts in your therapy sessions?

Disclaimer:  Smarty Ears provided a copy of BCSS for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.

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