Articulate It! Application Review
Holy revamp, Batman! When Articulate It! first came out, it was a great app, but it did not have as many features and had an older look to it. Granted, it was one of Smarty Ears' first applications, but to be honest, it kind of turned me off from using the application compared to some of my newer ones. Luckily, Smarty Ears keeps up with updating their applications and realized this fact as well. They did a complete over-haul of this application, as well as some of their others that came out early on. The graphics and style show a significant difference, as well as the content of the application, which makes me feel completely comfortable using it again with my students! Continue reading to learn more about how to use this application!
The Main Page of Articulate It! has five different buttons: Support, Reports, Select Player, Quick Play, and Settings.
Press the "Support" button on the left hand side of the Main Page to access a pop-up menu with the following options:
- Backup to iTunes - This will back up application data to iTunes for the ability to restore at any time.
- Restore From iTunes - This will offer the ability to restore previously backed up information from iTunes to the application.
- Tell a Friend! - Pressing this text will pop-up the Mail application to send a recommendation to check out Articulate It! to your friends via e-mail.
- Request Support - Pressing this brings you to the Mail application so that you may e-mail Smarty Ears for support with the application.
- More Apps - Pressing the "More Apps" text will bring you to a list of Smarty Ears' iTunes applications to view which additional apps they have for sale and more information about them. Pressing on an application you are interested in will bring you to that app in the iTunes store.
- Facebook - Brings you to Smarty Ears' Facebook page.
- Video Tutorial - Allows the user to view a video tutorial of how to use the app. This is offered through Vimeo. You can also view a YouTube video overview below:
Pressing the "Settings" button to view a pop-up menu with six different settings to adjust via on/off switches:
- Transition Sounds - If on, a sound will play between cards.
- Display Written Word - If on, it will show the written text for each word, phrase, or sentence practiced.
- Random Images - If on, the application will move randomly through word lists rather than in order.
- Display Word Source - You can toggle the on/off switch to turn the display of the word source on or off during application play.
- Move to Next on Touch - Instead of having to press a "next" button, you can turn this option on to move to the next word upon touch instead.
- Display Results on Screen - If on, the results of progress on sounds will appear on the screen during application play.
You can also add custom words by pressing the "Add Custom Words" button on this menu. This will be further discussed later in the review.
In order to save the changes to the settings that you have chosen, press the "Save Changes" button at the bottom of the pop-up menu.
To begin application play, press the "Select Player" button. Make sure you add a student to the application prior to application play by pressing the "Add New" button. Pressing on the blank square that states "Tap to add photo" will allow the user to choose an avatar, take a photo, or choose a photo from the camera roll to associate with their profile. Then, press within the rectangle with the "Name" text to type via the keyboard. Press "Done" to add the user to the list of player profiles. You can edit profiles later by tapping on the person icon in the upper right hand corner of the users' avatar.
Another way to add user profiles is through importing them via the free Therapy Report Center (TRC) application by Smarty Ears. By pressing this button in the lower right hand corner, you must have the Therapy Report Center application installed already on your iPad. You will be brought to the TRC app to choose a student profile to export into Articulate It! After it has begun importing, return to the Articulate It! application. To learn more about Therapy Report Center, visit smartyearsapps.com.
Next, you may choose up to six players to use the application at a time. Tap on the profile image(s) of the student(s) you wish to play. A "selected" stamp will appear in the on the photos of the clients you choose to play the application. Once you have chosen the users to play the application, press "Play". Then, the option to use flashcards or a matching game to practice sounds will pop up in the middle of the screen to press.
After the type of practice is chosen, the clinician must choose the phoneme and word type for each student to practice. First, a menu with the following four options will appear: Phonemes, Phonological Processes, Manner of Articulation, Number of Syllables.
- Select the Phoneme - Press this button to choose specific phonemes to practice. Phonemes are shown as English alphabetic letters and IPA alphabetic symbols and are color coded in categories related to manner of articulation. Press as many phonemes as you wish for the client to practice. When a phoneme is pressed, the button will be raised and highlighted around the edges in green. After choosing the phoneme(s) to practice and pressing "Done", the application will show buttons for whether you would like to practice sounds in the initial, medial, or final position of words. Press "Done" to move on to the "Word List" of words that fit the phonemes and position of words chosen.
- Select Phonological Processes - Press this button to choose the phonological processes in which you would like the student to practice from the following: fronting, backing, stopping, gliding, deaffrication, final consonant deletion, initial consonant deletion, and consonant cluster reduction. When a process has been chosen, the corresponding circle will fill in green. Press "Done" to move on to the "Word List" of words that fit the phonological processes chosen.
- Select Word by Manner of Articulation - Press this button to choose the manner of articulation you would like the student to practice from the following: affricates, fricatives, plosives, glides, liquids, nasals, and clusters. When a manner of articulation has been chosen, the corresponding circle will fill in green. Press "Done" to move on to the "Word List" of words that fit the manner of articulation chosen.
- Select Word by Number of Syllables - Press this button to choose between the number of syllables in the words the student will practice. Choose between 1-4 syllable words (or more than one) by pressing on the buttons and the corresponding circle will fill in green. Press "Done" to move on to the "Word List" of words that fit the number of syllables chosen.
After choosing the appropriate phoneme(s), phonological process(es), manner(s) of articulation, or syllable number, a customized word list based on your choices will appear. Scroll through the word list by swiping up or down on the list. You can choose to use all of the words provided on the list or edit the list to pick and choose which words to practice during the session. Press on a particular word to select or deselect it (if selected, a check mark will appear next to the word). You can also "Select All" or "Deselect All" words by pressing the button on the right hand side of the list. Press "Done" once the word list has been determined to either set the parameters for the next student selected or begin application play. If you have previously used the application with a student, the app will ask if you want to use previous settings. It will also show the previously used phonemes/processes for reference. Press the corresponding button to repeat previously selected targets or press another button choose new ones.
Once application play has begun, if flashcards have been chosen, an image and associated word will appear in the middle of the screen. In the top right hand corner of the notebook in the middle of the screen, the user whose turn it is will appear. The user whose turn it is next's photo/avatar will appear in the right hand corner of the screen in a blue list. On the left hand side of the page, there are additional options to access during application play. These include the "Settings" (same settings as shown above without the ability to customize words), "Notes" (where the user can take notes on the session), "Rotate" (the clinician can rotate the image on the screen so that the iPad can remain in the middle of the table and each person can see their word(s) to practice), "Record" (press to record audio of the student practicing his or her sound), and "Play" (press to listen to the recorded audio). Two additional options, shown in the top left hand corner of the notebook on the screen, are an audio cue (a microphone button which will have the narrator state the word(s) aloud) and a visual cue (an eye button which will allow the client to view his or her face as he or she produces a word/phrase/sentence via the front-facing camera).
You can choose to have each user practice the sound in a word, phrase, or sentence by pressing the corresponding button at the bottom of the notebook. Once the user states the word, phrase, or sentence, you can score it as correct or incorrect by pressing either the check mark or "x" button. Once you have scored the players' response, the next word and image will appear. If you have more than one player using the application, the next user's image will also move to the notebook to show that it is his or her turn. As items are scored, the number correct out of the total number of trials will change at the bottom center of the screen. When you are ready for the session to be over, press the "Home" button. A pop-up message will appear asking if you would like to terminate the session or not. If you choose to end the session, you will be brought to the "Report Cards" menu to view client progress.
If the matching is chosen, the user(s) will show on the right hand side of the screen. The person whose turn it is will be highlighted in yellow. In addition, each user will have a separate matching board. A card will show above an arrow as the word and image to match another card to. The user must press different flipped over cards on the grid and state the words aloud until he or she finds the match on the grid. Score each trial by pressing the check mark or "x" buttons. If there is more than one user playing the matching game, once the first user matches a card, the next user's board will appear and will have turns until he or she finds the match, then it will move back to the first users' board. In addition, each card's word will be narrated as it is flipped over. Once all of the cards have been flipped over, you will be brought to the "Report Cards" menu.
Press the "Quick Play" button on the Main Page to begin a session without data collection to play through on the fly. A pop-up menu will appear giving you the choice of activities between flashcards and matching. Then, you must choose the phoneme(s), phonological processes, manner of articulation, or number of syllables you wish to focus on for the session by pressing on the corresponding button, just like in regular game-play. A word list will show which you can scroll through by swiping up or down and select or deselect words. Press "Done" after each menu and game-play will begin like in regular play. Once you have completed a session, press "Home". The application will ask if you would like to terminate the session or not. If you choose to end the session, you will be brought to a report card for the session in which you can share, but it will not be saved to the application.
Add Custom Images
To add your own images and words to the application, first go to the "Settings" pop-up menu on the Main Page. Then, press the "Add Custom Words" button. A "Custom Images" pop-up screen will appear. If you have words/images previously saved on the application, they will appear within the screen. If you would like to add additional images, press the "Add" "+" button in the left hand corner of the screen. You will then be brought to the "Add Custom Words" screen. First, press the "Add Your Image" button to take a photo or choose an image from your "Photos Library". If you wish to choose an image from the "Photos Library", you must allow the application to have access to your photos. Once you have chosen a photo, move and scale it to fit the screen appropriately and press "Use". Next, type the word associated with the photo in the rectangle next to the "Word" text. Then, type a phrase with the above word in the rectangle next to the "Phrase" text. Finally, type a sentence with the same word in the box next to the "Sentence" text. After you type in the word, phrase, and sentence, you can record your voice stating each aloud. Press the microphone button next to each to record your voice, the stop button to stop recording, and the triangular play button to hear your recording.
Once you have chosen your word and image, you must choose where to save it to. First, choose the number of syllables in the word from choices of 1-4. Then, choose the sound or cluster of sounds the word is to be associated with. Finally, choose the position of the sound in the word. After all of these steps have been completed, press the "Save Changes" button to add it to the library. To edit an image/word in which you have saved to the Custom Images library, tap on the arrow next to the word on the "Custom Images" menu. When you have finished adding words, press the "Done" button in the upper right hand corner of the menu.
You can access the "Report Cards" menu by pressing the "Reports" button on the Main Page or following a session. Choose the client whose reports you wish to view by pressing on his or her avatar or picture. Sessions are shown in order by date of practice. At the top of the page is the students' name, the date of the first session, and the total number of sessions the student has participated in. Each session report includes the date of practice, game type, practice mode, phonemes practiced with the position in the word, phrase, or sentence, as well as accuracy shown, and the number of words practiced. On the right hand side at the top of each report, the overall accuracy during the session is shown. If recordings or notes were taken during the session, you can access those via the corresponding buttons on the right hand side. Words practiced can also be shown by pressing the "Words" button. To share a report, press the "Share" button with the mail icon at the top right of the page. Then, you can choose to print, e-mail, or export to the Therapy Report Center app. Finally, you must choose whether you want to share all of the results or only the recent results, and whether or not you want to attach recordings as well.
A new option that you can choose is to synchronize results to the free Therapy Report Center application. This allows speech-language pathologists to hold multiple reports for a student from various Smarty Ears applications in one application. You must have the Therapy Report Center application downloaded to perform this action.
In order to access homework to send home with students, press the "Reports" button on the Main Page. Then, press the "Homework" book icon in the lower right hand corner. The easiest way to access homework is by pressing the "Homework" button on the Main Page if you are not intending on using the application with a student but only wish to send pages home. Pages for homework practice will appear by sound, position in the word, and word/phrase/sentence. There are multiple pages per sound. Press the page in which you would like the client to practice. It will then appear full-screen for you to view. Each homework page has a place for the students' name, date, sound with position in the word, and level. You can share the homework by pressing the "Share" button in the top right hand corner of the page. A drop down menu will then appear for you to decide to open the file in a different application, e-mail it, or print it.
If you want to view some homework pages and don't have the app yet, or if you forget your iPad in therapy one day (never happens, right?), you can visit Smarty Ears' homework website for Articulate It where they have PDF files of homework for different sounds!
What I Like About This Application:
- The updated application has more of a theme throughout, a great color scheme, is easy to navigate, and has updated Smarty Symbols icons. This matches the quality of the newer Smarty Ears applications.
- The application includes printable homework sheets and Smarty Ears is generous enough to include many of them online as well! These homework sheets also use Smarty Symbols which is great for students who need to have the same visuals carry over across all settings.
- It is truly innovative to have the application be able to change its orientation to allow for quick and easy group play without having to pass the iPad around.
- You can save data for multiple students on the application and use it for individual or group therapy!
- If you would like a student to work on custom images associated with their everyday life, you can use everyday photos and add them to the Custom Images library!
- There are multiple settings to customize the application to fit the needs of your students.
- Since the application takes data, you can save it to the Therapy Report Center application or within Articulate It as well as print/e-mail it. This makes data collection quick and easy.
- There are two different ways to use the application, with the words on flashcards or as a matching game. My younger students are definitely more motivated by the matching game, but my older students like to do the drill with the flashcards.
- You can determine what you want each student to focus on down to the phoneme, position, syllable-ness, and level.
- I love that students can record themselves within the application and listen back to their speech. The best part is that they can even see themselves by using the camera as they practice their sounds!
What I Would Like to See in Future Updates:
- The fact that the application is so customizable is like a gift and a curse. When I am looking to use an application with a student, I want it to be able to start up quickly and choose the options quickly as well. Articulate It allows you to choose the phoneme, position of the word, phonological process, syllable-ness, level of practice and more, which can take a long time to set up. The good thing is that if you are saving a student onto the application, you will not have to input that information more than once. If you are looking to do a Quick Play game, you must take the time to choose the Settings each time. I'm not sure if it would be a good idea to change this, because I love having a lot of settings to choose from, but sometimes too much of a good thing can hinder the time it takes to set up. This is more of just something to keep in mind the first time you set up the application - make sure you set everything up prior to the therapy session.
- It would be great if the video tutorial was offered within the application in case the user does not have internet access.
- Phonological Awareness - Have students determine the number of syllables for each word by clapping, tapping, or counting them. You can also have students determine the initial or final sounds in words.
- Phonological Processes - Choose the phonological process(es) in which the student needs to work on to focus on remediating phonological processes with the application.
- Apraxia of Speech - Choose the appropriate amount of syllables for the user to practice sounds in sequence within multi-syllabic words.
- Articulation - Children can practice their speech sounds in single and multi-syllabic words. You can use the application in individual or group therapy. The student can record and hear his or her speech played back to self-monitor his or her sounds. Have the student use the camera to view themselves practicing various words.
- Fluency - Children can practice fluent speech in multisyllabic words, phrases, and sentences. The student can record and hear his or her speech played back to self-monitor his or her speech.
- Expressive Language - Students can create sentences using words from the application or read phrases and sentences provided by the application.
- Voice - Students can practice using their vocal strategies in words, phrases, and sentences. The student can also record and hear his or her speech played back to self-monitor his or her speech.
Articulate It! is available in the iTunes application store for $38.99. Some of the homework sheets associated with this application are available for free on Smarty Ears' website.
The author of Consonantly Speaking purchased a copy of the application herself but was asked by the developer to complete a review. No form of compensation was received.