Inside, closest to, and on top of Preposition Remix

Smarty Ears is one of the SLP-centric app companies out there.  Founded by Barbara Fernandes a.k.a. GeekSLP (whom we’ve met in ASHA 2011), Smarty Ears has to date almost 30 apps available in the App Store, apps that may be used for individuals with autism, stuttering, dysphagia, and apps for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) as well as for caseload management.  One of their very useful apps is Preposition Remix, and at this point we would like to challenge you to try and search the App Store for apps that concentrate on teaching prepositions.  We did, and we found that there were only a few handful that do.

Preposition Remix includes 20 of the most commonly used English prepositions such as:

  • above, behind, below, beside, between
  • closest to, furthest, in, in front of, in the middle
  • inside, near, next to, on, on top of
  • out, outside, to the left, to the right, under

The app comes with a Settings page where you can customize your lesson according to the needs of your client who is about to have a bit of fun:

  • toggle on/off the prepositions you’d want to appear
  • if you want written cues to appear below the pictures or not
  • if you want the prepositions to appear randomly or not
  • if you want the app to repeat the question or not
  • and how do you want the app to react if an error is made:
    • keep going:  have it continue to the next preposition
    • no response:  it won’t buzz nor continue on to the next preposition until a correct answer has been made
    • buzz:  if an error is made, and will keep doing so until a correct answer has been made

Press the Play button and the lesson starts.  The beauty of this app is that

  • one has to follow the instructions exactly:  if the app said “Touch the hat behind the horse,” one must touch the hat and not the horse, not above the hat, not beside the horse, but the hat itself.
  • the voice cue is clear and loud enough to be understood
  • no exaggerated stars, clapping sounds or cheers that could restrict the app to younger clients:  in other words, the app can be used with older clients, especially adults
  • voice response describes and expands the answer made:  this indicates that your client made a correct answer and even describes that answer in a longer sentence (“Yes, that brown dog is in the middle.”).
  • summary report is presented at the end of the activity:  this includes the date of practice, the prepositions the client worked on, and overall accuracy in percent.  Scores are presented by preposition, and the report also indicates if written cues and question repetitions were turned off or on.
  • optional “therapist upgrade” is available for download:  the upgrade allows the therapist to track a client’s progress over time.  This upgrade is available for $5.99.

Among the things we noticed as well were:

  • data-heavy:  87.1 mb makes for a very hefty app, but one could hardly fault the developers on this:  different voice cues and responses account for a lot of megabytes.
  • some lag-time after the Play button is tapped until the activity starts:  this is only by a couple of seconds or so.  It is  a hefty app, after all.
  • no option to turn off the voiced description at the end of each question:  while the description is useful, it does slow the activity at times, especially when the therapist prefers to do the describing him/herself.  One obvious way to skip this is to turn the volume down, but nonetheless, the app won’t move to the next item until the voiced description is finished.
  • no tweaks for users who do not use English:  again, we made good use of the app by toggling the volume to Silent and gave our own instructions to our clients.  But since we couldn’t hear the app’s instructions (unless we wore an earphone on one ear) nor could we forward to the next item, we tapped on the pictures for the sake of finishing the item.
  • no Next Item button

Preposition Remix remains an indispensable tool in clinical and school settings.  We definitely recommend this app as a must-have for your iOS device.  We say the same thing to our co-therapists at the center too, since they’ve been borrowing our iPad just to use with their kids.

Price:  $ 9.99 
Weight87.1 MB
Updated: 8 November 2011
Version: 1.2
Compatible with: universal app-the iPhone (and iPod Touch) and iPad
Seller:  Smarty Ears, LLC, 2011
Target Populationadults and children
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • prepositions
  • following instructions
  • auditory memory and processing
  • descriptions
  • comparing and contrasting
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 smileys
iSPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

 

 

Have fun with alternating attention & visual memory with Tiny Pants & X-Memory

Games are excellent cognitive exercises.  All sports require planning ahead and making judgment calls.  Same goes for anybody who’s played with PacMan, Tetris, and the very first Prince of Persia.  Things became more difficult when the developers upped the ante and created 3-D Pacman, Tetris and Prince of Persia.  What did we do?  We kept playing, and we kept getting better at these.

Some games challenged our cognitive skills a bit more than the others.  A goodexample of such game apps are TTGan’s Tiny Pants and X-Memory.  From the makers of Ah Up!, Ah Up! Planet, and PaPaBong,  TTGan‘s suite of games caught our attention because they were so appropriate for our field, helping us work on vocal intensity, cognitive skills and eye-hand coordination the fun way.

The idea behind both apps is simple:  objects pop out from the bottom of the screen.  Pay attention to the underwear patterns and colors (Tiny Pants) or the icon ball’s letters, animals and shapes (X-Memory).  When the selection screen comes out, tap on the underwear / icon balls that you had seen pop out.  That’s the basic rule.  The app makes things a bit more difficult via:

  • distractors that pop out along with the target objects, such as:
    • numbers:  tap on one and you get extra points.  Who doesn’t want extra points?
    • helper objects:  for example, tap on a potion botte and you convert all objects into the same pattern
  • the number of objects that appear:  as you move up in the game, more objects pop out.  The app gives you more helper objects (or objects that you must not tap).
  • the number of choices in the selection page:  at around Level 6-7, you are supposed to pay attention to 3 kinds of underwear patterns / icon balls.  The selection page shows you as many as 15 choices where you select which patterns came out in the game.
  • the pattern size:  Tiny Pants offers 3 difficulty levels basing on the area on which patterns appear:
    • boxer shorts:  biggest area, one can see more of the pattern
    • full underwear:
    • G-strings:  tiny space for patterns to appear on, challenges one’s ability to take note of the tiny details
  • the pattern type:  X-Memory, on the other hand, offers three kinds of graphics basing on ease of recognition and retention
    • letters
    • animals
    • shapes
  • the time limit:  one is allowed a few seconds to make their choices in the selection page.  The clock counts down as one attempts to compare across patterns, match it to one’s memory of which patterns came out, and make the correct decision.  Make three wrong guesses and the game’s over.

Which one to download?  It actually depends on you and your target clientele.  Many kids might find flying underpants amusing, but some may actually prefer letters, shapes and animals instead of patterns.  Tiny Pants and X-Memory seem like simple enough games, until it gets harder and harder.  Try it out for yourself.  One can’t go wrong with $0.99 apps.

Tiny Pants has English and Chinese versions.  Click here for the English iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad versions of Tiny Pants.  Links to Tiny Pants’ Chinese versions for iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad are here.  Click here for the X-Memory’s iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad versions.

Price:  $0.99 
Weight: 12.5 MB (Tiny Pants), 17.0 MB (X-Memory)
Version: both 1.1
Compatible with: the iPhone (and iPod Touch) and iPad
Seller:  Zeyu Luo, copyrights www.ttgan.com 2011
Target Population: adults and children
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • focused attention
  • alternating attention 
  • visual memory
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4+ out of 5 smileys
iSPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

 

 

Productivity Apps for the SLP

Earlier today we met another colleague who has fallen head over heels in love with her new iPad 2.  She was so in love with it that she gave it a name and talked about the possibility of it having a playdate with our iPad 2.  She asked us what productivity apps we’d recommend that she get.  We realized that not all speech-language therapists need therapy apps… but most (if not all) need productivity apps.  So, this post is dedicated to our good friend at the university, J.S.  We hope our applist today will help many of you who, like J.S., have been looking for really good apps that are worth spending a bit for OR are actually useful and free:

Awesome Note HD (+ To-Do / Diary) by BRID:  This note-taking app was awarded the Apple Store Hall of Fame 2011 and Apple iTunes Rewind 2009 and 2010.  Awesome Note is so beautifully designed for the iPad, taking advantage of the screen and displays any folder you’ve created on the left side.  One can create quick notes and later arrange them into folders that can be customized according to one’s desired colors, labels, or order of arrangement.  Choose paper backgrounds, enlarge/shrink fonts, snap a picture and create a scrapbook, create to-do lists and arrange them according to date or priority, email notes, upload a map and draw on it, and set alarms for urgent notes.  One can even set passcodes for a private folder. One of the better features of this app is its ability to sync or transfer to Google Docs or Evernote.  Also available for the iPhone / iPod Touch.  ( $ 4.99 )

iBooks by Apple:  iBooks lets you read ebooks almost literally off the shelf.  It displays ebooks (in *.epub format) in a virtual bookshelf that one can browse through.  Buy more ebooks from the iBookstore, or upload ebooks via iTunes on your computer.  Have more than one iDevice but using one iTunes account?  iBooks syncs content across devices.  This app lets you read ebooks with virtual page-turning, make bookmarks, and find specific pages via the page navigator at the bottom of each page.  Upload PDFs and read them via iBooks.  Find a specific word or phrase by typing in the search bar.  Adjust brightness and font size (for ebooks).  Made a bookmark in your iPad and want to continue reading in your iPhone?  iBooks syncs that for you and you can pick up where you left off.   ( FREE )

Quickoffice Pro HD by QuickOffice Inc:  this app lets one create and edit Microsoft Office Word, Powerpoint and Excel files on the iPad.  It even supports file formats from 1997-2008 versions.  Quickoffice obviously loves cloud services:  one can grab files from Dropbox, Box.net, Huddle, MobileMe, SugarSync, Evernote and Catch.  It offers social networks sharing options as well (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc.)  Bring your slideshows / Powerpoint presentations with you and using an iPad-to-VGA adapter, hook up the iPad to a projector.  Choose whether to print a document from Quickoffice via AirPrint, or print it in PDF format.  ( $ 19.99 )  Word has it (pun intended) that Microsoft is going to release their official MS Office for the iPad app soon.  Erstwhile, other options to bring MS Office / Mac OS documents with you are:

Dropbox by Dropbox:  take your documents, videos and pictures with you everywhere you go (as long as you have an internet connection).  Save your files in Dropbox, and it syncs in all your computers that has Dropbox installed in them.  Think you’ll be losing your connection in a few minutes?  Favorite a document for offline viewing.  Share photos, videos, almost any file with family, friends and colleagues.       ( FREE )  Other options for cloud storage and retrieval on the iPad are:  

Noteshelf by Ramki:  One of the most beautiful handwriting apps ever designed for the iPad, Noteshelf is the handwriting note taker that features super natural digital ink, a stunning UI and a comprehensive toolset that will increase the benefits of owning an iPad by leaps and bounds.  Zoom in on what you’re writing with your stylus.  Move the slider up and down to designate the ‘safe’ space where you want your wrist to rest on without messing up your writing space.  ( $ 4.99 )  Other beautifully-designed handwriting apps are:

enso Writer by knowtilus:  Want to write continuously without getting distracted by cluttered interfaces and the presence of formatting buttons?  This app gives you the space, literally, to just create and write.  Upload or import documents from Dropbox, Evernote, and Tumblr.  Draw using your finger.  Also compatible with Siri on the iPhone 4S and allows composition via dictation.  ( $ 1.99 )  

DocuSign Ink by DocuSign:  A rare app that lets you sign documents on your iPad.  Create an account, then create and tweak your signature and save it.  Drag and drop your signature onto PDFs, MS Office files, even text and image files.  The app can also convert PDF form fields, letting you fill them out, sign then send or simply store.  Also comes with Ink, a feature that lets you shoot and import a document for you to sign.  ( FREE )

pdfNotes by AMuseTec Co., Ltd:  iBooks is awesome, but it doesn’t let you write on your PDFs.  Enter pdfNotes.  Use your finger or stylus to write notes, highlight or underline onto PDFs.  Takes a bit of time to convert PDFs to a format that’s writing-friendly, but the wait’s worth it.  Can import documents from Dropbox, email or Safari.  Useful not just in letting kids color on PDF worksheets, but also indispensable when editing article drafts by hand, writing notes on PDF’d handouts, or writing comments on thesis drafts.  ( FREE )

Bamboo Paper – Notebook by Wacom:  Possibly one of our most favorite and most used apps, Bamboo Paper has literally made us ditch our whiteboard and migrate all our drawing needs to it.  Very intuitive drawing strokes whether made by finger or stylus.  Six pen colors to choose from and three thickness options.  Jump from one page to another using the page indicator on the bottom.  Create more notebooks by purchasing a notebook pack.  This app has numerous uses during therapy, but if you have an iPad-to-VGA adapter, hook this up to the projector and draw your ideas live during a meeting or drive your point in hard during a seminar using the iPad 2’s live mirroring feature.  ( FREE )

SimpleMind+ by xpt Software & Consulting B.V:  During therapy sessions, this app is an indispensable tool for divergent and convergent naming.  In the academic setting, this app is awesome to use during meetings, when making notes, or simply when trying to discuss to students the process of accomplishing a specific activity or project.            ( FREE )  Other mindmapping apps out there include:


Snapseed by Nik Software, Inc.  Recently tagged as the iPad App of the Year, Snapseed is a strong rival of Photoshop Express.  Tweak, edit, enhance, transform and share your photos with a few finger touches.  Auto-correct with a tap of a button.    Get a bit more creative by transforming pictures into Vintage, Grunge, Drama or Tilt-Shift.  Show off your creations by sharing these on Facebook, Flickr or Twitter.  ( $ 4.99 )

There you have it!  If you have apps that you think should be part of this list, let us know by shooting us an email.

iSPeak App at ASHA 2011

We were not sure what to expect when we signed up to attend ASHA 2011.  The plan was to set up our poster and present, attend short courses, run around and attend more courses, get reunited with our fellow Filipino speech-language pathologists, and look for a few SLP app-developers and check out a few products in the exhibit hall.

Never underestimate a convention such as ASHA’s ever again.  The entire event was HUGE.  The experience of meeting new people was even bigger!

Who wouldn’t recognize GeekSLP right away?  So we went up to her and introduced ourselves (myself and iSPeak App, to be more exact) and told her that a lot of us back home follow her in her blog.  We were entirely surprised when she, that’s Barbara Fernandes herself, told us that she has read iSPeak App too (goosebumps hatching goosebumps ala-Gremlins).  Barbara is also the founder and director of Smarty Ears.  We were fortunate enough to get a couple of shots with them.  Our friend Nancy was kind enough to play the photographer for us.

We had also planned to check out MindWing Concepts, Inc. and see what they were offering at their booth.  After introducing ourselves, we were so surprised at their reaction:

“It was because of iSPeak App that our views from the Philippines shot up!”

*awesome!**

We finally met Maryellen Rooney Moreau, a speech-language pathologist and the founder and president of MindWing Concepts, Inc. as well.  We thanked her for a very helpful and informative narratives webinar that she gave (and we got up very early for) last September.

A turn here, a turn there, and we finally found Tactus Therapy Solutions, makers of apps such as Comprehension TherAppy, Naming TherAppy and Writing TherAppy.  We have collaborated with Tactus Therapy several times and blogged about their apps and how well this was received by our clients working on language comprehension, word retrieval and writing, so it was only natural that we were stoked about finally meeting Megan Sutton face to face.  As a token of our thanks, we gave Megan a handheld folding fan as pasalubong.

Eventually we also found our way to AssistiveWare‘s booth and checked out Proloquo2Go, one of the more popular AAC apps out there.  Finally, we saw Speak For Yourself and talked with them for a bit about their app.  We exchanged hopes of collaborating in the future and doing a review about their AAC app.

The high feeling lasted throughout the entire convention.  It made us realize the power of the internet and of blogging.  We made a mental note to ourselves that we will work harder at spreading app news and reviews out.  We have come to know that people ARE reading.  We hope that all the articles that we put out have been helping others look for the apps that they want.  Thanks for reading everyone!  And to GeekSLP, SmartyEars, Tactus Therapy Solutions, AssistiveWare, MindWing Concepts, Inc. and Speak For Yourself… more power!  Help us establish more connections to more app-heads so we can in turn help others make great app decisions.