Real Friends vs. the Other Kind

 

Real Friends vs. the Other Kind

by Electric Eggplant

As children become of school age, they will struggle and succeed at many things.  Throughout your child’s academic years, they will travel along a variety of roads, both bumpy and smooth.  Such roads will provide them a number of experiences both academically and socially.  With their many years of professional experiences, David and Annie Fox of Electric Eggplant have developed a series of books, Middle School Confidential for a variety of platforms – iTunes App Store, NOOK Color and Tablet, Kindle Fire, and other Android tablets.  Their latest addition, Book 2 of the series is called Real Friends vs. the Other Kind, and will be available first on the iTunes store as an iPad app soon. If you are already familiar with the work/writing that the Middle School Confidential book series can and has done for your student or child, then you will be pleased to read our  review of this latest series.

If you have a child(ren) or student(s) that struggles to see the enjoyment in reading books or making “real” friends, then Book 2 – Real Friends vs. the Other Kind is the way to go.  With its untraditional way of reading a chapter book, as it is presented in a comic book format, youngsters from late elementary to middle school will be able to make personal connections. These connections will be made as they follow the trials and tribulations of characters: Chris, Michelle, Mateo, Jen, Jack, Abby and the newest addition to the clan, Monique.  Whether you are a boy or a girl between the ages of 10-14,  you can be certain that you will be faced with such issues as: bullying, put downs, friendships of all kinds and many doubts of how you fit into their social group.   As a parent or educator attempts to talk to their child or students about such social issues they may push back.  Not to worry, visit the app’s information button and click on the About this App tab.  Here educators and parents will have access to a hidden gem.  Through our exploration, Applicable2U found that when we tapped the images on this screen that it linked to two very helpful resources:  an Expert Author Podcast for Parents and a Free Leader’s Guide that can be downloaded for educators.

As a student, I wish such a product was at my disposal as I struggled through my “tween” years.  Regardless, as the technology specialist to children just entering into those precious years and as a parent that will one day have a son questioning his confidence and his friendships, this series will certainly come in handy.  In a very user friendly manner, users will have access to 8 non threatening chapters that will spark connections, communication and a sense of ease.  It is time to empower, according to one of the books characters, Chris, “You can count on your real friends.  And they’ve gotta be able to count on you too!”  Topics will range from Real Friends, Should I or Shouldn’t I, Worried About a Friend?, So-Called Friends, and Making New Friendsto name a few.  As a parent, counselor or educator, navigate at your own pace and integrate chapters that work for those students you work with. The social piece of growing up and fitting in is hard enough, luckily Annie Fox has been working with children for over 30 years and her experiences for supporting you certainly shine through in her hardcover and book apps across all devices.

Making “real” friends is so challenging in the late elementary to middle school years.  With this educational book, Applicable2U can truly see how it can be integrated into any guidance counselor’s lesson plan.  At our school we have a program called lunch bunch groups.  During these group lunch sessions, our guidance counselor works on a variety of social, organizational and behavioral issues.  Knowing that problem solving of some kind is our counselors main objective,  Electric Eggplant wanted to extend the lines of communication one step further.  Real Friends vs. the Other Kind has recently added a new component, interactive quizzes within three of the eight chapters.  These interactive quizzes will provide your child or student two modes of questioning: true/false and multiple choice.   Within Chapter 2: Friendship Dilemma’s the “teacher” will only share one question at a time.  As you review all choices and select how you might deal with a certain situation, both adults and young adults will be amazed at the dialogue that it will spark.  Immediately your selection will be graded with a right or wrong answer and a clear explanation will be provided for both.  However in Chapter 5: So-Called Friends and Chapter 8: Making New Friends, here problem solvers will be asked 5-10 “what if” scenario questions of either multiple choice or true/false format.  Simply tap your answer(s) and it will be highlighted. Applicable2U is looking forward to seeing these  “end of chapter” quizzes in action with multiple devices as they play a role in what we like to call “lunch bunch” groups.  Honesty at its best!

Applicable2U gives Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs. the Other Kind two thumbs up!  This is a series not to be missed.  If you would like to learn more about Electric Eggplant, please visit the following websites to learn more – development homepage, Free Spirit Publishing or the Middle School Confidential homepage.  To get your hands on a wonderful social and communication building app, then click here to access Real Friends vs. the Other Kind in your iTunes library today!

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Hungry Fish

Hungry Fish

by Motion Math

Come swim along the shores of Wave Reef as you test out your addition skills.  From the developers of Motion Math and Motion Math Zoom, young mathematicians will not be disappointed with their recent addition – Motion Math Hungry Fish.  Designed for all Apple devices running iOS 4.0 or later, this initially free educational app will get your gills wet as your student or child ages 4-12+ feeds their very hungry fish with numbers.  For those educators or parents whose state is now or soon will be following the Common Core Standards, it is important to note that Motion Math games are designed with such standards in mind.  Hungry Fish is applicable to children just learning the concepts of numbers and addition to adults looking to brush up on their brain stimulation. With wonderful graphics, easy to navigate tutorials and playful modes of creativity, users will want to unlock more.  Additional levels can be added to your device through an in app purchase of $3.99 for each of the following: Subtraction and Negatives or purchase the whole fish tank for $6.99.  Luckily, these fish won’t die as quickly as those from the pet store.

Upon entering the application users will want to observe their “fish tank.”  In the bottom right hand corner, users will see four icons: a fish, musical note, trophy and a question mark.  Each of these icons will support and guide the user as they go fishing. If this is your first time playing, users will want to tap the fish icon.  Upon tapping this icon, it would appear that an unlimited amount of fish “users”  can be added to the application.  Through exploration and gaming, users will be able to associate a creatively designed fish of their own to their account. If at any time, the sound effects or music becomes a distraction for students, simply return home and tap the music icon to off.   Based on your successes, the trophy icon will store your high score as it relates to other fish in the sea.  Within the question mark icon, users and parents will find a great deal of resources. With a how to play, a parent guide, and options, each users experience can be customized for them.  In addition, this home tank provides positive reinforcement to those playing, in the bottom left hand corner a very basic reporting system of your points, a multiplier, the number of colors you have unlocked, and how many fins styles your fish can have.  Once your fish has been dropped into the tank, it is time to play.  Play can begin in two ways: tapping the play arrow in the top right hand corner or interactively.  With your fine motor skills, tap and drag your fish across the screen and watch it follow your finger tip.  After a little playtime, it is time to get academically playing, drag your fish up to the play arrow.

Your first experience with Hungry Fish will require you to begin with the introduction.  Here narrators will explain how to play.  Feeding occurs through number recognition and combining numbers to make new sums so as to feed their fish.  Hungry Fish is visually explaining the concept of mental arithmetic as it shows multiple ways to make the same number.  With this free version of Hungry Fish, users will have access to 18 levels of difficulty as they explore the Wave Reef.  Levels of difficulty can range from simple number matching, to faster gameplay, to even challenging for the most math savvy individual.  Regardless of which level you choose to play, your goal is to feed your starving fish.  In the tank, you will see your fish will have a number on it, it is your goal to drag and drop a floating bubble of that same number into your fishes mouth.  At times, there are no bubbles with the exact number and it is now time to do a little combining.  If combining is required, then you must overlap bubbles to form a new numbered bubble.  It is important to note that your fish only likes to eat one bubble at a time, it’s matching number on its stomach. As you strategize combinations, don’t panic if you accidentally combine the wrong number, the surrounding sea life will blow out new bubbles so that you can fix your mistake.  Luckily no time will be eliminated from your score, however, with every mistake or lack of feeding, your fish will get smaller. No person or even fish likes to starve.

Overall, Applicable2U would give Hungry Fish two thumbs up! From the standpoint of a teacher, knowing that my students can actively be meeting the Common Core Standards in math at a variety of grade levels in one app is worth the download.  Yes, there is an added expense to extend the learning with subtraction and negatives, but for $6.99, it seems rather minimal.  Seeing my own addiction to it, I can only imagine how my students might feel.  If you would like to learn more about Motion Math, please visit their website here.  To begin feeding your virtual fish today, access Hungry Fish in your iTunes library by simply click here.  You will not be disappointed!

eSkills Learning: Parts of Speech and Compound Words

Parts of Speech and Compound Words

Over the past several months, eSkills Learning has been hard at work to expand their collection of educational apps.  The eSkills Learning team have designed BINGO like apps that relate to core curriculum standards in the areas of: Language Arts, Reading Comprehension, Math and Algebra Video apps. Both Parts of Speech and Compound Words can be played on any Apple device running iOS 3.2 or later.  The applications may be pricey compared to other educational apps out on the market, however, the eSkills Learning team is devised of members with over 30 years of educational experiences.  Their goal is to motivate and challenge those using their applications.  The academic end results that a parent or teacher will see in their child or student after having played will be worth the download.  Through this game format, students won’t even realize that they are learning, reinforcing and reviewing for their next language arts lesson or even a state preparation exam.

What truly amazes Applicable2U about the integration of the eSkills Learning apps is how the use of a mobile device can change an educational setting while meeting a variety of standards.  In their About section of their website, they clearly indicate that the design of these two apps and all others were built with the Common Core Standards in mind.  When visiting the Common Core State Standards website, I came across a general key point under Languagethe standards expect that students will grow their vocabularies through a mix of conversations, direct instruction, and reading. The standards will help students determine word meanings, appreciate the nuances of words, and steadily expand their repertoire of words and phrases.” At each grade level, this key point will be met and will be developed upon over time. Through the use of various levels of difficulty and multiple ways of playing (single and multi-player and practice mode), each return BINGO experience can be different, without a sense of feeling that there is no reason to return. With a brief set of directions on each question, users will read a sentence and fill in the blank with one of three choices as they practice parts of speech and compounds words.  Both applications will challenge the user as they game for a reason. Below are some highlights of each application:

Parts of Speech 

  • Levels of Play – Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Pronouns, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections
  • A collection of real world images that students can make connections too
  • Improve their visual discrimination skills as they locate pieces on a board
  • It is important to note that there will need to be pre-teaching/direct instruction done prior to using this application on definitions of the various parts of speech that the app will focus in on
  • Games are not timed during the single and practice mode to alleviate undue stress on the user(s)
  • Integration of multiple devices as they safely connect with one another via the devices Bluetooth
  • Practice mode gives the user control over how many questions they will need to answer.  There is no BINGO board in this mode of play.
  • Parts of Speech Lite version has 200 questions
  • Parts of Speech Full Classroom Version has 400 questions
  • Developer support is provided for parents and teacher in a Teacher’s Guide

Compound Words

  • Levels of Play – Locating the 2nd Half of the Compound Word – Easy Vocabulary, Locating the 1st Half of the Compound Word – Easy Vocabulary, Locating the 2nd Half of the Compound Word – Harder Vocabulary, Locating the 1st Half of the Compound Word – Harder Vocabulary
  • Through game play, users will be increasing their word recognition skills, the ability to look at words in many parts and the development of vocabulary as they listen, speak and write.
  • Compound Words Lite version has 100 compound word questions in total
  • Compound Words Full Classroom version has 400 compound word questions in total
  • Developer support is provided for parents and teacher in a Teacher’s Guide

Overall, Applicable2U continues to be pleased with the educational apps that eSkills Learning has to offer.  Depending on your child or students level of need in learning or reinforcing either of these two topics will determine the academic approach that will be taken.  For some it may be challenging, so working alongside a higher level partner might be useful so as to differentiate when needed.  A note to the developers, in a future update, might it be possible to include an option for the device to read sentences when necessary.  Although direct instruction will be provided, could users tap on an unknown part of speech, causing a help window to pop up for further support. Finally, within the practice mode, has your team thought about generating a short report which shows how that student did during that session.

If you would like to learn more about eSkills Learning, please visit their website here.  As mentioned in the brief overview of each application, there are two available versions.  When making this decision, do not look at the dollar value, look at how it will support and guide your child academically.  To begin adding Parts of Speech Full Class version to your iTunes library, simply click here.  To add Compound Words Full Classroom version to your iTunes library, simply click here.

Holiday Wiz Quiz – The Qwizful Special Christmas Edition

Holiday Wiz Quiz

by Simul Consulting Corp.

As we near the holiday season there are characters and songs that many individuals will recall and traditions that are repeated each December.  Whether you are a child or an adult, we all know Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Christmas elves and the variety of decorations that are shared for all to see.  Who knew that these things could be interconnected with academic skills.  Simul Consulting Corp recently launched a special Christmas edition of Holiday Wiz Quiz.  This engaging, colorful resource will stimulate your child(ren) or student(s) ages 4-8 years.  By playing this educational app, your  child will be academically preparing themselves as they enter their school years and engage in learning with the help of seasonal connections.  With your trial download of Holiday Wiz Quiz, your wiz kid can explore 40 questions on the go via your iphone, itouch or ipad device running iOS3.2 or later.  Applicable2U highly recommends gaming for a reason and Holiday Wiz Quiz is guaranteed to do just that.  As your child(ren) or student(s) games for a reason they will be developing such things as their logical reasoning, spelling and math skills.

With their eye catching owl all decked out for the holidays, quiz takers will be supported in a number of ways.  As the developers have indicated, this is an educational app for children as young as four, however, there may be some learners that need parental guidance as well.  Applicable2u was impressed to see how they have incorporated verbal and pictorial directions, various types of reinforcements, and hints. Quizzes are made up of 20 multiple choice questions. Questions will be read aloud, however, if after hearing it your child needs it repeated, simply click the repeat button at the top of the page.  Like any MCAS, SAT or state exam, children are expected to review each answer.  There will be obvious incorrect answers, however, if one is chosen, the holiday owl will give a hint.  After reading the hint, a second chance will be provided.  It is important to note that the more frequently the owl supports your child, their final test results may be lowered.  A note to the developers – when hints are needed, is it possible to have those hints read aloud.  Or even for the developing reader, could they tap on each word as it is announced.  To visually guide your child along the road to success, the holiday owl will travel a 1-20 number line at the bottom of their screen. At the completion of each quiz, stars will have been earned and a report will be generated for the benefit of a parent or teacher.  These reports will provide both recent scores and an average of all your quiz experiences.  It will share their total score, how long it took to complete, the number of correct answers, how many times a second chance was given and those incorrect answers.  Quizzes can be repeated and new reports will be generated.

As you and your child experience the trial version, Applicable2U is certain that you will want to update your trial to the full version through an in-app purchase.  In the updated version, users will now have access to close to 300 multiple choice questions. An additional to note to the developers – might it be possible to offer multiple accounts within the full version?  This would be an added support for parents with multiple children, teachers and homeschoolers.  This time of the year is a very exciting one, why not maintain that excitement as they build their confidence as they play, learn or reinforce a great deal of academic and high order thinking skills.  To learn more about Simul Consulting Corp, please visit their website here.  To begin your trial today of Holiday Wiz Quiz click here to add to your iTunes library.

iVocAudio – Your Memory Chum!

iVocAudio
    By Jean-Eudes Lepelletier

Do you want to learn a new language?  Interested in creating a study guide to prepare for a test?  If you answered yes to either of these two questions, then you will want to download iVocAudio for your iPhone or iPad device. As of today, iVocAudio is a free download, so be sure to take advantage of this amazing offer before it’s too late.  It is an application that is customizable for your own learning needs.  With built in Quick Start Guides, video tutorials and various viewing options, voice recording flash cards could not be more simple to create. Developers chose to design this application so that it would function in three languages: English, French and Turkish. Integration of iVocAudio is the 21st Century way of reviewing and reinforcing skills.  The need to hand write your study notes for educational or personal reasons is now taken out of the equation and your voice becomes the main tool.  Whether you are a teacher, student or parent, this application is applicable to you.

Through our exploration, Applicable2U can envision iVocAudio fitting nicely within an educational setting as early as late primary to college and beyond.  Learning, reviewing or reinforcement occurs with the creation of folders and recordings of pairs.  Amazingly, students both young and old can feel independent as they build and experience this mobile learning application.  As you begin, a user will want to click the folder tab, simply tap the “+” button and you now have the option to generate a new folder name.  Folders are the placeholders that store questions/answers or as iVocAudio likes to call them, pairs.  As we tested this educational application, Applicable2U chose to build a folder called United States. Throughout the course of the year, fourth graders are required to know the regions of the United States, state names and their capitals being one component of their social studies curriculum. With this in mind, we chose our first set of pairs to be named: Question – State and Answer – Capital.  This is a folder that could be continuously added too and revisited throughout the school year.

After creating a folder, recording can now begin.  Pairs are added to individual folders in a very visual and intuitive manner.  Within the recording tab, users will see a number of visuals.  For example, a large “Q” and an “A” are center stage.  At the bottom of this window, there appears to be a watch like icon that stores the number of pairs, the REC button and a pair name.  When ready, simply click the REC button, the “Q” will be bold as the “A” is transparent.  A bolded “Q” or “A” indicates what the user should record.  Once recorded, simply click the STOP button.  At the completion of recording, users can then begin to “test” themselves.  If interested, users can even change how they attempt their test(s).  Within the general settings tab, many options can be altered.  For example, users can set answers to be announced after 1, 2, 3, 5 and 8 seconds or not automated at all.  Also sorting can be manipulated as well has the direction of ones test from Q>A or A>Q.  Once these options have been manipulated, users can then click the test button at the bottom of the screen.  Testing begins as a user drags and drops the four way directional button to the flashing “Q” or “A”.  A user is expected to answer the question on their own and then check their answer.  After a comparison is done on your answer users are then expected to drag the directional button to either the green circle indicating a correct answer or the red circle at the bottom indicating an incorrect answer.

Concerned about mistakes that students might make while recording, not to worry, iVocAudio has an answer for that. Click the Pair button and users can listen and delete pairs as necessary.  When viewing all pairs within a folder, we noticed that users can test themselves at most 5 times.  Visually pairs explain whether they have been explored with a question mark or a colored in bubble.  If at the end of five testing experiences a user finds that they need more review, they would simply go into the folder tab and hit the reset button.  Whether the folder provided a positive or negative experience, the learning can continue until mastery is maintained.  In addition, by clicking a pair, users and even parents/teachers can see the number of successes, failures and the maximum number of successes in a row. Academically, reporting in some fashion and being held accountable for ones learning is critical in any good educational application.

There are a number of components that iVocAudio has to offer that intrigue Applicable2U.  The possibilities that this educational app has to offer is overwhelming.  Besides being able to build, record and test yourself on the go, users can even test their own peers.  After creating a folder and its coordinating pairs, that folder can be exported and shared with other users via the iVocAudio website, iTunes library or email.  Currently, there are a number of other iVocAudio users who have posted their folder(s) for others to use.  As more people become familiar with this mode of learning and reviewing this forum of sharing will continuously grow. It is a great way for teachers to support each other across the curriculum.  Whether you are learning a new language, reinforcing a part of the social studies or science curriculum, or even spelling out and reading grade level sight words, iVocAudio would definitely come in handy in school and at home.  If you would like to learn more about iVocAudio, please visit their website here.   Looking to do a little review on the go, then you will want to begin downloading iVocAudio to your iTunes library here.