Adding iPads to the classroom with only be beneficial if the teachers know how to use them and found apps that benefited the students. One app that I’ve found to be very useful for students of many age levels and ability levels is Abitalk Sentence Builder. This app is for kindergarten through second grade, but it can also be good for special education students. This app focuses on putting sentences in the correct order with punctuation. It is kid friendly and easy to use. Here is a video demonstration of how to use it:
This app’s settings can be customized to change the difficulty of the activity making it suitable for students through second grade and students in higher grades that may be in special education classes or struggling with sentence structure.
This app has three main benefits and they are:
- Sentence Structure – The main goal of this app is to teach and practice sentence structures, including word order, grammar and punctuation.
- Listening Skills – Depending on the difficulty the teacher sets, the students will need to listen to the sentence and remember what was said.
- Motor Skills – For younger students and those with disabilities, this app will help them practice their motor skills because they must drag the sentence parts to put them in the correct order.
The app also has three levels of sentence difficulty. The first lesson is only two word, subject-verb sentences while the third level gets into more complicated structures with more words. The difficulty can also be increased by taking away how much of the words are read aloud. If you turn off the volume completely, then the students would have to read all of the words on their own and figure out what the sentence should say. One step below that would be to turn off reading the words aloud so the students will have to practice reading but they don’t have to figure out what order they go in.
Another good quality of this app is the ability to create your own lessons. You can use your own pictures and words. This can allow you to create harder lessons for the more advanced students. You would also have the freedom to use vocabulary words or words the students might be struggling with so they can get more practice with them.
Here are some examples of how this can be incorporated into the classroom:
- Start with a mini vocab lesson and then have the students complete a lesson you created on Abitalk Sentence Builder.
- Use the app as a review activity to evaluate the students understanding of sentence structure. Since students can work on this individually, you are free to work with students who are struggling.
- Have the students create their own lessons and then switch with another student to have them complete the lesson.
I feel that this technology resource would be a good addition to the classroom iPad because they are a good way for students to practice and they are great for an inclusive classroom. All of the students can be working on it at once and the struggling students wouldn’t notice that other students were working on more advanced levels. The app can also be used through grade levels to keep a consistency throughout grade levels. I think this app would be a great (free!) addition to any iPad.
After presenting this app to my class, 14 of my fellow classmates filled out a rubric judging the app on 7 features. I graphed the abitalk rubric results, but I will also provide a summary below:
The 7 features are as follows:
- Relevance: 93% of my classmates agreed the app is a 4 out of 4 on the rubric (The app’s focus has a strong connection to the purpose for the app and appropriate for the student).
- Customization: 43% of my classmates agreed the app is a 4 out of 4 (App offers complete flexibility to alter content and settings to meet student needs).
- Feedback: 64% of my classmates agreed the app is a 3 out of 4 (Student is provided feedback).
- Thinking Skills: 50% of my classmates agreed the app is a 3 out of 4 (App facilitates the use of higher order thinking skills including evaluation, analyzing, and applying).
- Usability: 79% of my classmates agreed the app is a 4 out of 4 (Student can launch and operate the app independently).
- Engagement: 64% of my classmates agreed the app is a 3 out of 4 (Student uses the app as directed by the teacher).
- Sharing: 57% of my classmates agreed the app is a 3 out of 4 (Performance data or student product is available in app but exporting is limited and may require a screenshot).
Overall, the majority classmates agreed this was a good app because it was relevant to its audience and the students could use it independently, however, they felt it lacked customization and efficient reporting capabilities.