Several weeks ago, there was a discussion within the SLPs Talk Apps group about various wh questions apps and the similarities/differences in what they had to offer. With that discussion in mind, I want to share my thoughts on this Smarty Ears app so that you can make up your mind about which app would best meet your needs! Look back at my review of the Super Duper wh questions app if you want to compare. I have also outlined some similarities/differences at the end of this post and included some thoughts on which app might be best for different users.
How It Works: Entering the app, you can do a backup or restore, view previous results, start a new game, change the settings, or go to a support menu. If you’re a first-time user, I’d say check out the video tutorials under the support menu and play around with the settings before starting a new game. When you go to start a new game for the first time, add players (names and grades), and select who you want to participate. Then, for each child, you will be able to select which types of wh questions to address. For example, you can choose to target just why and how with Johnny but target why, who, and what with Sally.
When the game starts, you will see the students’ names on the side (with one student highlighted to show whose turn it is), a question at the top (if you choose to display this), record/play buttons next to it, a picture underneath, and right/wrong/all done buttons for data collection. Afterward, you can view the report to see the data collection summary.
Therapy Applications: The app is definitely intended for one goal: targeting answering wh questions! Of course, there are cognitive processes that play into this, such as reasoning through why questions and paying attention to/remembering the auditory presentation of the question. The record/play back option is great for helping kids work on self-monitoring/self-correction.
Pros: 1. Ease of use.
2. Customization options. I especially love how you can change the target questions for each child. This makes group work much more fluid.
3. Settings options. My two favorites: changing the number of questions per student’s turn (e.g. student answers 2 questions before passing it on to the next person) and turning on/off the written display of the question (to either challenge or support kiddos with auditory processing difficulties).
4. Record/play option. When I asked my kiddos their favorite part about the app, nearly all of them said this.
5. Seemingly unlimited number of players (in the app and for each game).
Cons: 1. It would be nice to be able to have a “no response” or “skip turn” button as a part of the data collection for those times when one kid heads to the bathroom, gets pulled aside for a minute by an adult, is having behavioral challenges, or otherwise is unable to answer at the time. This way the data wouldn’t penalize them for not being present during that turn.
2. I wish I could either directly choose which questions are asked or have varying levels of difficulty, as some questions are not age/developmentally appropriate for the students.
3. There is not a way to turn off the picture clue in the app. So if having the picture clue would make the app too easy, I suggest turning the iPad away from the child until they answer.
Compare/Contrast: Since I firmly believe that not every app is perfect for every child, it makes sense that some children might benefit from one type of wh questions app while others would benefit from a different type. Let’s take a look at how the Smarty Ears and Super Duper wh questions apps compare and how you might choose differently depending on your caseload.
1. Question difficulty.
2. Unlimited players.
1. The Smarty Ears (SE) app offers a how deck; the Super Duper (SD) one does not.
2. The SE one is more of a flashcard set-up whereas the SD one involves games. So you might want SE if you have a child who is over-stimulated by games and responds better to less interaction, but you might want the SD one if you have a child who needs the added motivation of a game to participate.
3. The SE one solely focuses on answering questions; the SD one focuses on answering and asking them.
4. According to their websites, SE has about 400 questions and SD has about 280.
The Take-Away: This is a well-designed app for SLPs targeting question-answering skills. It involves a flashcard-type set-up but with several features to make it engaging and efficient. Take time to compare this to other wh question apps to decide if it is a good match for you and your caseload.
My Questions for You: Have you used either the Smarty Ears or Super Duper wh questions apps? Are there any other similarities/differences I haven’t mentioned? Which one do you think would work best for your caseload?
Looking for more expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!
Disclosure: Smarty Ears provided me with a free copy of this app to review. I was not compensated in any way for the review, and they were aware that I would be discussing the app’s strengths and weaknesses.