For our 91st review, Applicable2u would like to “shake” things up a bit. It’s time to put back the creativity into our educational system while meeting academic standards. While following my professional learning network today via Twitter, a number of educators were discussing this growing issue of teaching to a test. Why is it that we are now teaching to “cover the content” rather than teaching for meaning or understanding? As an educator when you say you “covered” a topic, are all your students understanding it as well. Unfortunately, education has become so time driven that we end up losing a number of our students along the way. Regardless of this educational trend, educators are reaching out for grants or state funding to improve their forms of instruction. In a number of areas across the United States, we are seeing more and more schools that are implementing various Apple devices. Research has shown an improvement in student academic success due to the integration of such technology. As the Apple Store continues to grow, there are a number of developers out there that are consulting with others to be certain that their app meets state standards while also incorporating a little fun. Applicable2U would like to share with you, Artgig Apps. They will be launching a new language arts application to your iTunes library called Shake-a-Phrase that is designed for students in the upper elementary grades (ages 8+). How do you teach parts of speech or the improvement of well developed sentences? At times do you find it to be dry and boring? Well then it’s time to Shake-a-Phrase!
Shake-a-Phrase can be downloaded to any Apple device, for this review, our exploration was completed with the iPad2. Upon entering you will notice that learning can occur in three ways: Shake It!, Quiz Me!, and Story Starter. Immediately my “teacher brain” was flowing with ways to integrate as a whole group and also individually within a classroom or at home. Each level of play has four graphically appealing themes: basic shake starter, animals, fairy tales and monsters. Simply choose your game mode and let the shaking begin. With over 1,700 words and definitions users will be completely engaged while learning. Through this engagement, students will be developing and/or reinforcing three forms of parts of speech: nouns, verbs and adjectives. In addition, students will begin to see the importance of words and how it can change their writing. Through the development of parts of speech, sentences can become more detailed. As Shake-a-Phrase is integrated, sentences become more than just words, they become a visualization of a writers ideas. With ease, users will be able to navigate between modes of play and themes to extend the learning with each return visit. In addition, users have the option to save and share favorite sentences with others.
How to Integrate:
Shake It! – This mode of play allows users to tap or shake the Apple device to generate silly sentences based on the theme chosen while building an understanding of words and definitions. The Shake It! mode can be incorporated throughout a unit or lesson. When introducing types of words and the development of vocabulary & definitions, connect your iPad device to a large screen and explore these silly sentences within a whole group setting. Interactively break the sentence apart, attempting to define vocabulary based on contextual clues while also locating the part(s) of speech you are trying to introduce or reinforce. A note to the developers – has there been talk about incorporating additional parts of speech or even forms of figurative language to a future update? By implementing more language arts strands, Applicable2U thinks this educational app would open additional doors to the upper elementary grades.
Story Starter – As various genres of writing are taught, students should be encouraged to be creative writers. For some, writing is a struggle. If your students have ever felt stumped on what to write about or where to begin, then try the Story Starter mode. With a simple shake or tap, users will be given a topic to think about as they dream up the rest. Here is an example, “Imagine a smelly witch and a slow phantom working near the jungle…..” While exploring in this mode, users should keep in mind the 5w’s (who, what, where, when and why) of a good story. Initially, users might find it useful to have the teacher model the development of this story with support from the whole group. Keeping in mind the importance of details and how a variety of parts of speech and word choices can enhance ones writing.
Quiz Me! – now it’s time to put the instruction whether interactive or direct to the test. Quiz options can be changed based on which parts of speech to have turned on. Quizzes can occur as each part of speech is taught or the culmination of all three. Whether interaction with the application and the device occurs as a group, in teams, or individually, this mode of play can challenge learning styles of all kinds. While playing, users will be expected to tap as few as one part of speech to three parts of speech for each sentence. Users will progress through levels by answering three or more correct questions. To guide students towards success, a set of clear directions are provided as to what type of word(s) are to be tapped. Additional support and reinforcement is given with correct and incorrect answers through a visual (green and red boxes) and auditory (buzzing). While in quiz mode, if users are unsure of the meaning of one of the parts of speech, developers have also included a question mark button which defines that word. It is important to note that upon exiting this application, that quiz mode will not pick up the last players level of completion. A note to the developers – have you thought about a reporting option to either parents and/or teachers for this mode of exploration? Or to have a multiple user option when gaming for a reason within the Quiz Me! mode.
Overall, Applicable2U was very impressed with Shake-a-Phrase. Through the incorporation of random, silly sentences a variety of language arts standards will be met. Whether you are an educator or a parent, this educational app is applicable2u. Some might argue that this technology approach to teaching parts of speech and vocabulary may not be standardized testing approved, however, users will leave this application with a solid understanding of such material which can then be applied to their own writing. To learn more about Artgig Apps, please visit their website here. Or you can begin to shake, laugh and learn by downloading Shake-a-Phrase from your iTunes library here.