Pronoun Heroes is an engaging way to teach inspiring superheroes the use of pronouns. Created by certified speech-language pathologists and developed by Smarty Ears Apps, Pronoun Heroes teaches and reinforces the use of pronouns in multiple ways. The comic superhero theme is sure to delight players of all ages, while the skills targeted and the data compilation delights the busy SLP or educator.
The Basic Concepts Skills Screener
The Basic Concepts Skills Screener (BCSS) was developed for the purpose of evaluating and describing the basic concepts skills of children. An understanding of basic concepts is fundamental for students to follow directions and develop reading and math skills. The BCSS is individually administered to establish a baseline of basic concepts that are in error.
Children who struggle with basic concepts struggle to achieve the skills necessary for complex learning. Because basic concepts are an integral part of language instruction, these children often fall behind those who have mastered the necessary skills (Schlaudecker & Regimbal, 1995). Unfortunately, this often results in the “Mathew Effect” as described by Stanovich (1986) and Walberg & Tsai (1983). In this situation, the child who is already struggling falls farther behind while the child who has mastered the skills continues to make progress. Early recognition and remediation of a child’s struggle with basic concepts may reduce the negative educational impact.
Basic Concepts Skill Screener (BCSS) is a quick, motivational screening tool created to help assess the basic concept skills in children. Designed by certified speech-language pathologists, BCSS uses technology to engage clients while assessing their school readiness skills. BCSS is sure to be a great app for the busy speech-language pathologist, teacher, parent, or caregiver.
The concepts included in BCSS are separated into four basic areas.
Spatial words indicate the location of an item. Spatial words can also relate to simple relationships (e.g., out of the container). Receptive understanding of spatial words typically occurs before the child can use the words expressively. Most spatial words are mastered by the time a child is kindergarten age (McLaughlin, 1998). Many spatial words are prepositions (e.g., above, off); however, some are also considered nouns such as “corner.” Included in this area are the three-dimensional and perspective taking concepts such as “through” and “under.” Spatial words included are above, off, on, bottom, between, etc.
Children begin to learn concepts around quantity long before they are able to name numbers. For instance, a child may be able to choose the pile with “more” candy in it, long before he is able to count the pieces (Bracken, 2006). As the child’s number sense grows, it may provide the foundation for a deeper understanding of quantitative concepts. A few of the quantitative concepts could also be listed as comparative (e.g., empty, different). However, because these concepts are an integral part of the Common Core State Standards for math skills K.MD.A1 and K.MD.A2, they have been included here (Common Core State, 2012). Quantitative concepts included are whole, all, empty, most, never, etc.
Comparative concepts are often called relational concepts because they show a relationship between items such as size, color, texture, and weight (McLaughlin, 1998). For BCSS, we have included feelings in this category because the client is asked to compare pictures to choose the correct emotion. Comparative concepts included are tall, dark, cold, thick, sad, etc.
Temporal concepts indicate how events relate to each other in time. Temporal concepts are some of the most difficult concepts to master because time is abstract and relative. Temporal concepts are comprised of three basic elements: duration, order/sequence, and simultaneity. Younger children tend to master order concepts early (e.g., after, before) while concepts dealing with simultaneity (e.g., while, at the same time) are learned by kindergarten age (McLaughlin, 1998). Temporal concepts included are first, next, starting, second, etc.
TWO SCREENING OPTIONS
The BCSS consists of two screening options: The Full Screening and the Quick Screening.
The Full Screening consists of 79 questions and takes approximately 10-15 minutes to administer. Within the full screening each of the 79 questions are divided by approximate age of acquisition. There are 14 concepts which should be mastered by the time a child is between 3-4 years old. There are 17 concepts expected to be mastered by the time a child is between 4-5 years old. By the time a child is between 5-6 years old, there are 31 concepts. The final 17 concepts may not be completely mastered until a child is between 6-7 years old.
The Quick Screening consists of 30 questions and takes approximately 5 minutes to administer. There are seven (7) concepts to be mastered between age 3-4; eight (8) between age 4-5; eight (8) between age 5-6; with the final seven (7) to be mastered between age 6 – 7.
It should be noted there is a wide range of acceptable age ranges for mastering basic concepts. The ranges used for BCSS are based on a median of resources available. In addition, for some children, certain types of concepts may be mastered before others. For instance, a child may successfully answer spatial concepts through age six and yet struggle with early temporal concepts. Because of the wide variety of acceptable ages for mastery and the variability in learning, it is strongly suggested the entire screener be administered. However, in the event it is necessary to end the screener early, a tap on the done button will end the screener and bring up the results section. Any concepts not assessed will be noted in the purple “not tested” area of the report.
The BCSS allows the individual to administer the screening in one of two languages: English and Portuguese.
To change the language settings, simply tap on the SETTINGS button. A popup window will display.
Simply select the desired language. All assessments will then be performed in that language until the settings are changed. The reports will be presented in whichever language is selected (even those for previously administered screenings). All navigation buttons will also be displayed in whichever language is selected.
How to Use the App
Adding and Editing Users
The BCSS was designed with busy clinicians in mind. Adding and editing students is extremely easy. Simply tap on “Add Student” in the lower left corner of the main screen page to create a new student profile.
A pop-up window will populate asking you to complete the required information to build a student profile. This includes name and date of birth.
Once added, the student name will show in the left-hand list of students.
To edit a student’s information, simply tap on the “edit” button on the top of the student list.
Then tap on the widget arrow next to the student’s name.
A pop-up window will display with the information already populated. Edit as necessary.
Deleting a Student Profile
It is possible to delete a student profile. Simply tap on the “edit” button next to the student roster. Then tap on the red – sign that populates next to the student’s name. A “delete” button will show on the right of their name.
Understanding the Testing Screen
The BCSS screen is designed to offer four choices. The target sentence is placed at the bottom of the screen.
The NOTES feature allows the professional to keep assessment notes handy.
The score at the bottom left corner tells how many targets have been presented.
The app will not progress to the next screen until the NEXT button in the bottom right corner has been tapped. The picture that is selected when the NEXT button is tapped is the one that is scored. If no picture is selected when the NEXT button is tapped, a pop-up message will show explaining that there must be a selection made.
A tap to the DONE button in the upper right corner will end the screening. If the screening has not been completed, a pop-up window will appear asking if the user would like to continue the screening and complete the test, or save progress and continue later.
The BCSS has two visual and auditory reinforcements. With every selection, a soft chime is heard. In addition, a fun swirl is shown.
The swirl and chime will show regardless of whether the selection is correct. In this way, the screening is keeping with standard assessment tactics of not allowing the child to know if the answer is correct or incorrect.
When the DONE button is tapped, a second visual reinforce is displayed. In this way, the child is reinforced for completing the screening.
The BCSS automatically scores the picture that is selected when the NEXT button is tapped. The results are shown in the Raw Score tabulation on the main student page. The comprehensive report includes a breakdown in multiple ways.
First, the app will provide a narrative of the specific concepts that were answered incorrectly, or in the case of terminating a screening early, the concepts that were not answered.
Second, the app will automatically provide a breakdown by concept type.
Finally, the app will breakdown by age of acquisition.
If reading a narrative isn’t convenient, the app will also provide a quick color coded visual to help determine which concepts are mastered, emerging, not achieved or not assessed.
As well as a similar glance for the age of acquisition.
NOTE: It is important to remember that some children struggle to learn more abstract concepts, so it is possible for a student to “master” some concepts but struggle with others (e.g., master “spatial” but struggle with “temporal”).
It is important to remember that the age of acquisition is approximate and somewhat variable. It is entirely possible for a child to have “mastered” the concepts a 5-year-old is expected to know, while struggling with a “younger” concept. This is particularly possible if the student is struggling with attending, has acquired a faulty understanding of certain concepts, or has a language delay.
It is also important to remember that although the app states “by age 3” it is not expected that the student will have complete mastery before their 3rd birthday. Rather it is expected that the skills will be emerging by then and a complete mastery will occur when the child is that age (and before their next birthday).
The raw score is the number of targeted concepts that were correctly selected.
Type of Assessment
The home screen information also tells which type of screening (full or quick) was administered as well as the completion status.
From the same screen a tap on the “SEE REPORT” button will bring up the comprehensive report.
The professional can e-mail the results of the screening immediately after administration. To email the results information, tap on the “share” button found in the upper right hand corner on the Report screen.
A pop-up screen will display with options for reviewing notes, sharing results by e-mail, exporting the results to the Therapy Report Center, or opening in another app of your choice (e.g., dropbox, PDF viewer).
Users can e-mail the results to themselves in order to save for their records and keep a backup of the student’s assessment, or to send to the parents. The e-mail is set up as a simple report and can be edited text or a PDF.
The notes will show in the report between the narrative report and the performance graphs.