Let's Use Language: Basic Language Development App Review and {GIVEAWAY}

Let's Use Language: Basic Language Development by Everyday Speech is an app that was just released on June 2, 2014.  This app was developed as a literacy based approach to teach Common Core Language concepts, particularly Knowledge of Language and Vocabulary Acquisition and Use.  It uses stories to teach the language concepts of:
  • Vocabulary
  • Sequencing
  • Categories
  • Opposites
This app comes with 10 stories, each with an accompanying lesson for the four target concepts.  The stories are engaging, an cover a variety of topics.

There is also a feature in this app that allows you to create your own stories and lessons, complete with questions and answers.  You can even use your own pictures.

To begin this app, you can simply press the Start a Lesson button.  If you press the settings button, you can change the Text-to-Speech option, and find out more about Everyday Speech.

Next, you will chose the lesson type you want to work on (Vocabulary, Sequencing, Categories, Opposites) and your story choice.

How does this app work?
The first lesson I chose was vocabulary.  To listen to the story, you press the speaker button.  When you are done reading or listening to the story, you can press start to begin the quiz.

The questions are multiple choice with three choices.  You can hear the question and answers by clicking the speaker button.  When your student chooses the correct answer, you will get a box that says, "That's Right!"  You can then proceed to the next question.  If your student chooses incorrectly, a box will pop up with "Incorrect" written.  You can then choose to review the question or proceed to the next question. 

When you get to the last question, you will get a data collection page which marks the correct number of answers by coloring in stars.  You can then click Complete Lesson which will take you back to the main menu.

I tried all of the lessons with students.  Here are some screenshots from the remaining lessons:




If you want to create your own story, you are able to by clicking the Add Lesson button.  The lesson will be created in one of the four categories (vocabulary, sequencing, categories, opposites).  I created one in the Opposites area just to try it out.  It was easy to add the story text and the image.  I think if I were going to create multiple lessons in all of the areas, I would select all of the text and copy it before I finished because I cannot see a way to edit the story once you enter it.  Here are some pictures from the lesson that I created:

You can also click "Add Skill Set" to add additional lesson areas.  I think I would create a "Wh" question section for my stories.

Things I like about this app:
I like the vocabulary, categories, and opposites lessons of this app.   It think the questions are great, and will work really well with my students.  I also like the option of being able to add my own stories and pictures.  I think that will be really great with some students I am working with that are focusing on relaying information from past experiences.  I could see using real pictures for these stories, and have the students answer questions about their experiences.

Things that would make this app great:
The voice is very robotic because it uses text to speech technology.  I think that if it were possible to have real speech and be able to record your own voice for the story, it would be a great addition to the app.  In the sequencing lesson, students are able to tell from the picture what the answer is.  It would be great to be able to turn off the picture on this part of the lesson. 
*** Update*** The developer of this app has let me know that they have submitted an update to iTunes that includes the ability to turn the pictures off. ****
One last thing that would make this app great would be to have some data tracking for students.

You can get Let's Use Language: Basic Language Development on the iTunes store for $14.99, or you can enter to win a copy here!  Just enter in the rafflecopter below for a chance to win one copy of this app.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**I was provided a copy of this app for review, however was not compensated in any way for my review.

My Unspectacular Exit...

I have a confession to make.  I finished my year without a bang.  I didn't make any elaborate crafts with my students to work on language or speech skills.  I didn't have any fun pizza, popcorn, or candy parties like my students always dream up.  We didn't go on scavenger hunts, or even do any therapy outside.  Nope!  I was BORING!!!!

I was able to see all of my students for one last time last week.  We played a game during each session, and I handed out my summer calendars to them.  It was very anti-climactic.  I almost felt bad because I could see myself 10 years ago doing all (or at least some) of the things listed above.

I started thinking, why was I able to do all of those fun things 10 years ago, and couldn't seem to get it together now?  I actually have a couple of answers to that question.

First, I have two boys of my own now, ages 6 and 7.  They are both heavily involved in multiple sports and activities, so my nights are pretty shot after I have them do homework, make dinner, and then schlep them around.

Second, the paperwork.  Oh, the paperwork!  I truly do not remember having to do this much paperwork even a few years ago.  Maybe I have selective memory.

Third, MEETINGS, MEETINGS, MEETINGS!!!!  I have had so many meetings lately, that it is amazing that I have seen my kids at all!  I have had some pretty intense families this year, and lots and lots of meetings with advocates, every team member imaginable, and parents.  I have a pretty intense caseload to begin with (18 self-contained ASD students in addition to the rest of my elementary) so I should expect meetings, but WOW!  I had a lot this year!!!!

So, there you have it, my confession.  I am boring.  There might be reasons behind it, but I do feel some guilt at not having a supercharged last week.  But, at the same time, it was kind of nice to just leave quietly...

Requesting Using Attributes

As you might know, I have a huge passion for using PECS with my students right now.  So many of them have made it so far and are communicating with a variety of people and about a variety of items.  We are now moving on to requesting using attributes.  Two of the easiest ones that I like to start with are color and size.


Color is a great place to start when requesting using attributes.  Almost every great reinforcer has a color, and if it doesn't, you can put it into something that is colored!

I had some chocolate for one of my little people the other day.  Most chocolate is brown, so I didn't really want her to request using "brown".  I wanted her to differentiate colors.  I had some left over plastic Easter eggs, and figured that I could put the chocolate in the different colored eggs and have her request for the eggs by color.  I thought that she wouldn't really want the purple egg if the chocolate was in the green egg.  Wow, was I right!  My little friend was VERY accurate with requesting the right color during this activity.

Color and Size

I found a great game to use when I want my students to request using color and size.  Bingo Bears!  There are three different sizes of bears, and six different colors.  You can also really customize your student's boards so that they have to request exactly what you want them to.  I limited the size to big and small, and also limited the number of colors.

Here is one of my little guys playing with me using his own PECS book to make his requests!

I also wanted to make a paper activity that I could use with my students and possibly send home for practice in describing too.  I made Requesting Big and Little Fish by Color.
I found this really cute clipart from Kari Bolt, and could not resist these little fish!  I thought they would be perfect for this activity!  This is also the first activity that I am using Smarty Symbols!  I recently received a license to use Smarty Symbols in my TpT products, and can't wait to start using more of these.  There are so many pictures available! 

Anyway, back to the activity.  These are simple pages that have sentence strips at the top.  Students can place their color and size icons onto the sentence strip and then request using verbalizations.  If you have non-verbal students who are exclusively using their PECS books, you can simply cut out the icons and place them in/on their book.

Here are some examples of what you can do with this activity:

I have really enjoyed using this activity with my students who have ASD.  I love that they can take something home with them to use at home too!

To purchase this activity, you can go HERE.