Monday, February 25, 2013


WHAT: Smarty Ears App Review
Blue the hat bat yesterday house.
Were you able to read every word listed above?  I bet.  Did the whole sentence make sense?  Probably not!  The nonsense sentence above is a way to demonstrate that words can be read, but not comprehended.  Words misunderstood or put in the wrong order = confusion! The best thing would be to be able to understand what is read.  That is what reading comprehension is. That is why working on reading comprehension is important and why I was excited for the opportunity to try this new Smarty Ears Reading Comprehension App out with my speech and language students this week during therapy.
Several students that I see at the therapy clinic are working on increasing their reading skills.  We focus on phonemic awareness development, vocabulary advancement, sight word memorization, reading fluency, and of course, their reading comprehension to see if they understand what they have read.  It is my ultimate wish that these beautiful children will go on to acquire a love for reading that will carry over into the rest of their lives.  How great it would be if I could say that I have helped even one of these children overcome their fear of reading and ultimately gave them a love for reading that helped them to enjoy recreational reading and also made them into better students!

1)     Press read and import a player in from the Therapy Report Center (a separate app that allows all of your student data from all of the Smarty Ears apps to be organized in one place), OR go to the add a reader.
2)     After selecting a reader, click choose a story button.
3)     Select the story and level.  The stories are presented in levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  Level one stories were made for 2nd and 3rd graders, and level 5 was designed for 6th to 7th graders.
4)     Click settings if you would like the colorful picture that goes with the story to be large or small and if you would like to change the font size.
5)     Press the play button if you would like to hear the story read.
6)     Press the record button if you would like to record voice while the story is read aloud.
7)     Press the quiz button when you are ready for the quiz.
8)     Choose between 12 different types of questions to be asked or choose all of them.  The different types are: all, who, what, where, when, why, how, inferences, cause and effect, compare and contrast, sequencing, vocabulary/context clues.
9)     Press start quiz and answer the quiz questions. Select hint button to see part of the text highlighted that contains the answer to the question, select check to see if the answer given was correct.  A green check will come if the answer was correct.  If the answer checked was incorrect, the answer will be taken away.
10) Additional cool feature: The ability to record and write your own story, upload your own picture, and develop your own comprehension questions.
- My student reader commented that he found some of the names of the characters to be hard to read and to understand.  He said this about both stories that he read.  For example, “Patricia” is not a name that he had read before and reading unfamiliar words really throws him off.
- The quiz section contains a small print size that is hard to read in comparison to the story.
- Only one picture is provided for each story.
- I was hoping that the fun camp theme would be brought into the stories, but I did not see it.

+ A large variety of students at varying levels can use this app (2nd grade to 7th).
+ One to four students can read and be quizzed on the same story at the same time.  This is a very nice group therapy feature.
+  A nice variety of stories are provided.  Most stories are fun, light-hearted and have some humor.
+ The hint feature during the quiz phase is very nice for encouraging the student to still try to find his/or her answer.
+ The ability to make your own stories is a wonderful tool for making a story more specific to the child’s life or needs.
+ The play back feature is a wonderful tool for helping to increase fluency skills and reading comprehension as it gives the child a chance to re-trace the story contents one more time.
+ The read the story feature offers clearly read stories with inflection in the reader voices at appropriate times, e.g., increased pitch for questions, increase loudness to show excitement.
+ A wide variety of comprehension questions and the ability to choose which kinds are asked is a terrific tool as I can target a specific goal that way.
+ The ability to increase the font size is very helpful for my younger readers.
+ The ability to have the results emailed, printed or sent to the Therapy Report Center is very helpful for keeping track of individual student performance.

I would definitely buy this app.  I was missing out on a good reading comprehension app and this one will be so nice to have now!  Having it will reduce my need to track down, and print out age level equivalent stories for each and every child that I see.  I love the cute stories, the colorful pictures, and the recoding ability of the app, the data collecting feature, and the detailed way it quizzes the students to assess for their understanding of each story.
Technology is fun and is making my job easier! 
Love and best wishes, Manda Riebel, MA-CCC-SLP

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