It has been a while since I have been able to write an app review. Due to my home family, my work family, and my new relationship with the MSU Ed Tech program, I have had little time to write about the apps that I have be using with my students. I'm on spring break now. Over the next week, I hope to share with you some information about 2 of my new favorite apps.
Beginning with Letter School....
I am always on the search for apps for my students. I am the queen of "download and delete". I have a 16GB iPad (provided through my school district) and it is nearly full, not to mention the amount of apps I have in iTunes. I wouldn't even post a number here. I might save that for a contest...guess how many apps are on Melanie's iPad?
Anyway, back to the app at hand. A few months ago, came across an app called Letter School. I was instantly curious about the app though the title. LetterSchool - would it be letters identification, learning letter sounds, tracing letters? The answer is YES!
LetterSchool is an app created by Boreaal publishers and PiZM.com. It provides basic tracing practice of upper and lower case letters and numbers 1-10 while embedding letter sounds and number sense activities within the practice. Each of the letter and number activities can be customized to reflect the handwriting program the user is familiar with: Zaner-Bloser Style. D'Nealian Style, and Handwriting without Tears (HWT). As far as I know, this is the first app that reflects the HWT writing curriculum. The letters/numbers activities provides the user with opportunity to see the tracing by tapping the dots, trace the letter/number with visual cues, and write the letter/number independently; wonderful example of "scaffolding" in learning. The repeated practice of each letter/number is great for working on the motor memory component that often is an important part of developing correct letter and number formations.
LetterSchool also incorporates various learning modalities into the app. While tracing, the user is interacting with the app (kinestetic), the app is providing a variety of sound reinforcement while (auditory) the letter/number is formed, and after tracing, the user is able to see the tracing retraced using the correct formation (visual). This helps provide additional practice and reinforcement for the user.
Nearly all my students are working on tracing and letter formation to some degree. Some are working on single lines while others are refining their printing skills. LetterSchool is an appropriate app for my students. Not only does it incorporate the obvious, letter and number formation, but it also incorporates letter-sound correspondence, number sense, fine motor development, and visual motor development.
Although I think this app incorporates some great features, especially the customization for writing styles and choice of letters/numbers. After reviewing the app, there were a couple of things that would like to see added:
- After completing a letter, I wish the app would repeat the letter name and sound. It would be great if part of the "you got it right" reinforcement incorporated repetition of the letter name and sound. This would also be the case for the number tracing, it would be great to repeat number name and count to that number after the tracing was complete.
- There have been a few letter/sound inaccuracies. I will be emailing developers to address these issues.
- I was extremely excited to see the use of the Handwriting without Tears letters and numbers used. My students are familiar with this handwriting curriculum. I would love to see a section that users can "build" the letters/numbers with the long/short/curve pieces to create letter in addition to tap, trace, and write activities of that handwriting style.