February 29, 2012

iPad App Review - Conversation Builder

 One of my favorite treatment tools is my iPad.  It is so versatile and can be used with almost any child. I have several favorite apps that I find myself using again and again.  One of them is Conversation Builder by Mobile Education Store.  This is an app that I use with my elementary-aged social thinking kiddos who are working on conversation skills. It is an interactive app that leads a child through a "conversation" with another child, allowing them to practice the art of small talk.  Let me tell you how it works.
A photograph is displayed along with a auditory prompt in an adult male voice who says, "How would you start this conversation?"  There are three possible statements or questions that the child may select, which he or she does by touching it.  The same adult voice provides feedback on the selection by either saying, "That's right.  Now let's record it." or something like, "That's an unusual way to start a conversation.  Try again."  After the child selects the correct question or statement, he records himself saying the selected sentence.  He can play it back by touching "Play last recording" and hear himself ask the question or make the statement.  Then the child touches the "next" button to hear a child's voice respond to his question or statement.  The adult voice then asks, "What would you say next?" as three new choices are displayed.  If the child chooses either of the incorrect statements or questions, the adult voice makes a statement about why it wasn't the best choice and prompts the child to try asking a question.  After the child selects the correct response, he again records himself saying the question or statement.  He then touches Next, which prompts the child voice to respond.  Then the child touches the Play Conversation button to hear the entire exchange.

After the exchange ends, you have the options of playing the conversation again,  saving the conversation, or moving on to a new conversation.

Here's what I like about this app:

1.  It is a great way to lead a child through those tricky small talk situations and to practice ways to introduce themselves into a group activity.  The photographs are bright, appealing, and sure to elicit questions and comments.

2.  You can go through the exchanges at your own pace.  You can discuss each option if you'd like, or you can discuss why the less-preferred response doesn't work.

3. You can listen to the recorded responses and discuss things that make the response sound unnatural, like intonation patterns and rate.  You can then practice new ways to say it and re-record.

4.  You can discuss the conversation after you play it back and talk and let the child give you feedback about his role.  And you can provide feedback as well.

5.  You can extend the conversation by asking the child what he might say next, without the use of prompts.

6.  The settings allow you to have flexibility.  There are 4 levels of play:  1 on 1 - 4 sentence exchange, 1 on 1 - 8 sentence exchange, Group - 4 sentence exchange, and Group - 8 Exchange.  You can also choose if the student or the "peer" (i.e. the pre-recorded child's voice) will be the conversation initiator.

7.  The app has 40 conversations in the Standard Conversation Module, which is what you get when you purchase the app.  You can purchase additional modules, such as Animal Themed Conversations, Holidays, Playground Conversations, and Conversations with Friends around Town, in addition to several others.

I highly recommend this app and hope that you find it as useful as I do.  Two thumbs up to our friends at the Mobile Education Store!


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