Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: Articulation Scenes by Smarty Ears - iPad App

Articulation Scenes iPad App by Smarty Ears: A Review

An evaluation copy of this app was provided to me for free. I was not otherwise compensated for this review.

Detailed Description

Smarty Ears is offering their Articulation Scenes app for $34.99 at the app store. This app allows you to create profiles for multiple children. When you hit "Play" you choose the name of the student you are working with and then the phoneme (p, m, h, w, n, b, d, y, t, k, g, ng, f, ch, j, l, r, v, s, z, sh, and th). Once you identify the phoneme you wish to target you can choose a scene to work with. The scene is a picture filled with items that feature that phoneme. M, N, B, D, T, K, G, F, CH, V, Z, SH, and TH(voiced and voiceless combined) all have Initial, Medial, and Final scenes available. P has I, M, and two F scenes. H and Y have only an initial scene. NG has M and two F scenes. L has I, M, F, and an L-Blends scene. S has I, M, F, SK, SP, and ST. R has M, F, Pre-Vocalic R, and separate scenes for 6 of the vocalic R sounds.

Once you've chosen a scene, you can choose one of four activities to do with that scene: Find the Hidden Items, Tap and Say It, The Movie Theater, and The Production Room. If your iPad is connected to a wireless printer, there is also a simple homework document associated with each scene that features the target word pictures from that scene.

The Find the Hidden Items game simply lists the target words across the bottom of the page. The child can tap on the word to have it read to them. Then they search for that item on the page and tap on it. Once they find it, that target word disappears from the bottom of the screen and is replaced by another until all the words are found. This activity has no data tracking mechanism. You'll have to track accuracy on your own on a separate piece of paper.

In the Tap and Say It activity tapping on one of the target items brings up a popup that shows a picture of the target word and produces a model. After the child says the word (or you can choose to record it with your iPad) you can choose missed it, almost, or got it for data tracking purposes. Then when you back out, you can go to that child's progress report and see a record of the activity and the percentages of correct/almost/incorrect for that activity. You might find it more useful to think of the "Missed It" category as omission, the "Almost" category as substitution/distortion (whichever applies to that particular student/phoneme, and "Correct" as correct. That data scheme would be more useful.

The Movie Theater activity shows the scene while reading a story that incorporates all the target words. As far as I can tell, this is simply a passive listening activity.

The final activity is The Production Room. In this activity, the child is prompted to make up their own story about the scene and record it, or to read a script of the pre-prepared story about that scene. Then they can listen to the recording of themselves telling a story about the scene. There is no data collection mechanism for this activity.

Pros, Cons, and Bottom Line

This app includes a lot of target phonemes with the pictures incorporated into scenes that provide context and facilitate sentence level productions and generalization and carryover. The scenes are attractive and children will particularly enjoy finding the hidden pictures. If a set of 72 scenes with over 1500 target picture words is worth $34.99 to you, then you've already made a decision.

Many of the target words are fairly complex in syllable structure, so this app might not be best suited for working with children with more severe delays. For example, the stimuli for initial /p/ are: pig, pie, plate, pear, parcel, pot, pen, pin, pearl, pencil, paper, purse, pizza, peace, paint, pole, purple, pink, paint, pants, and pliers. Only 7/21 are simple CV or CVC words. All the others contain vocalic-r, consonant blends, or are two-syllable. Also, within app data tracking is minimal so be prepared to track performance separately. In my opinion, these are the major disadvantages of this program.

Here's my bottom line. If you are working with straightforward artic students who do not need a lot of single-syllable, simple syllable shape stimuli and don't mind keeping your data separately, this app might be worth the price. The scenes are great for keeping interest and for facilitation of carryover and generalization. If you are working with children who need simpler stimuli, you are likely to be frustrated with the composition of the targets included in the scenes and you would probably be better off looking elsewhere for stimuli for therapy.

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