Thursday, August 14, 2014

Technology Thursday: Speech App

I am thrilled to be linking up with Teaching Trio for Technology Thursday!

I am addicted to iPad apps and just love incorporating them into my lessons.

However, since I'm still on summer holidays and not really in "school mode" yet, I am going to focus on an app that I've been using with my son this summer. (By the way, I have a TON of great app/tech recommendations for teachers, so check back each Thursday for new ideas!)

At first glance, it might seem like the app I'm about to introduce is an unusual choice.  
Let's see... some reasons would include:

1. It is intended for patients with aphasia (a disorder that affects one's ability to process and use language). The most common cause of aphasia is stroke and it often occurs in older folks
2. It's not a game. You don't earn points. You would think that this app would be the last thing a child would want to "play" on their iPad.

It's a good thing that I have an open mind and an eye for effective teaching strategies (if I do say so myself!) otherwise I would have skipped right past this awesome app!

So let me begin by saying my son is 4... he does not have aphasia nor does he have any issues processing or using language.  BUT, I figured if this app is good enough for the elderly suffering from a pretty serious speech disorder... it would be perfect for teaching anyone with a speech issue (serious or not)!

Now, my son has an outstanding vocabulary and he enjoys telling stories!  All in all his language skills are advanced for his age. [You can check out this {previous post} to see what I mean].  But he is having some issues pronouncing certain blends.  Hubby has an Australian accent, so for the longest time, we couldn't figure out if this had something to do with our son dropping random consonants. For example, our boy will say mirra instead of mirror, which is fine (and pretty darn adorable), but I've noticed that there are other sounds he seems to have issues with... like his "s" blends. These blends can't be attributed to the accent... so I figured it was time to nip things in the bud.

I downloaded the app because the title made me think it would be a perfect fit for my son (it's called "Consonant Blends") AND it was free (yay for free apps!).  I was expecting a fun kids app that would teach blends using games with bright, engaging colors.

When the app started, I thought, oh dear...he's not going to want to do this.  


But I was wrong.  


My son happily flipped through the screens to practise new blends. It was a lot more engaging than having his mother repeat: "Look at my mouth. Look where I'm putting my tongue. Look carefully. Are you looking? Stop looking at the cat outside the window! LOOK at my MOUTH!!!". 

But, you put a random person's enlarged mouth on an app, and that's it, the kid blocks out the world and is focused on how she is modeling the sound. Fine, don't listen to your mother! Listen to this random lady instead! :'( (Hem hem... "rejected mother rant" over.)

I think, for my little man, being in control of how long he wants to spend on each blend is what makes this app so attractive. He can tap the screen if he wants to see and hear the sound being modeled again. He can choose to practice blends he's good at when he's tired of practicing the trickier ones.  He can interact with the app by swiping, tapping, listening, watching.  All of this is much more exciting than listening to his mother (*sniff*).  But hey, I am just relieved that he's so engaged when using this app... that it's working...and that he is happy to spend 5-7 minutes a day practising his blends. I am truly shocked at how well this app has worked out!

The lessons here: 

1. Try using apps that are intended for other purposes/audiences.  You might just discover an innovative approach to teaching an everyday concept. I think you'll be surprised!
2. Sometimes it's not all about games and high scores. I think kids are motivated by being in control. Having the freedom to choose what they learn and when, is very empowering. Being able to choose when to move on to trickier skills (ie. when the child feels ready) or being able to review skills that have already been mastered, allows a child to set his/her own pace. 
3. Although I was doing the exact same thing as the model in the app when trying to teach my son how to say certain blends, my son would never have been able to study the nuances of where to place his tongue or how to shape his mouth as clearly as the app demonstrates.  The third lesson then: Don't underestimate just how effective some of these seemingly 'simple' apps can be.  

If you have a student who is struggling with pronouncing blends correctly, try this app.  I noticed a huge improvement in my son and I highly recommend it! Within a week he was calling Pider Man, Spider Man and now we're moving on to changing 'fruck' (which can sometimes sound like something else) to truck!

   

Check out {this link} to learn about other speech and language apps!

2 comments:

  1. Wow, such a cool app. I like that it would make something the kids choice for how long to practice. I'll need to keep this in mind for my 3-year-old if she is still having issues in the next few years. "Fruck" *giggle* - Lisa from Created for Learning

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Lisa! I'd use it with your 3 year old even if she isn't having issues in the next few years! Once she masters her knowledge of letters and their corresponding sounds, learning blends would be the next step to take anyway! I didn't talk about this aspect in the post, but since the blends are written on each screen, my son is also learning how to READ these blends. We usually brainstorm words that begin with each blend just to reinforce the skill a bit more. I am confident that his knowledge of blends will help him when he comes across these trickier sounds in texts! So, speech issue or not, I think any child could benefit from this app!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...