Friday, January 3, 2014

Seashores to Sea Floors App by Mobile Education Store

It was such a thrill finally meeting Kyle Tomson of the Mobile Education Store at ASHA's national conference in Chicago this past November.  He exudes energy and passion about his work and it was an honor spending some time at the conference with him as he highlighted some of the many features of his Crack the Books series.  I was immediately drawn to one book in this series: Seashores to Sea Floors, since my second grade son has a love for the ocean. Kyle saw my eyes light up and graciously offered me a code to review this wondrous creation with my little explorer.  Seashores to Sea Floors app is a standards based, core curriculum aligned elementary science textbook about the ocean's biome.  It was created in collaboration with the University of Alaska's Department of Oceanography and a team of educators.  Now, sit back and get ready to be amazed!

When you first enter this app, you are prompted to create a user name.  This helps bookmark pages and store notes, which the user may document while reading.

The greatest feature to this app is it's versatility.  You can adapt the reading material for users in first through eighth grade by choosing from five levels.  The content doesn't change between levels, rather the material was calibrated to correspond to specific Lexile bands.  Finally, you get one app that you can use from elementary to middle school!  Plus the visual images, videos, and fun facts that are included in this seem appropriate for users in high school.  I even learned some interesting things while reading a few chapters with my son!

If you would like to have any part of the chapter read for you, it's only a click away.  You need to make sure that you have the audio switch on in the settings screen and your iPad settings must be toggled to allow for sound in the Seashores to Sea Floors app.

As you read through the chapters, images, video clips, and fun facts are displayed along the right side bar.  If you want, you can go directly to other links to see all images and videos displayed in one place.  One fun link is the interactive globe that allows you to spin the earth around and highlight various oceans.

Another fabulous feature to this app is the ability to easily define new vocabulary words with the click of a button. Red color coded words when tapped display a brief definition.  You can set up the app to show definitions for any highlighted word in a variety of languages by highlighting the term, selecting define, and then manage.  Next, you get a list of languages to load via iCloud.  Once this is synced, you can see definitions for any word that you highlight.  I really love this efficient feature that saves the user the trouble of exiting the text to look up a definition, especially since many of my speech and language clients need extra supports with defining age level vocabulary and would likely use this feature more often than a dictionary or web browser.  There are also blue coded words in the text that call attention to changes in images along the right sidebar.  At any point, you can tap a blue coded word and be brought to the matching image in the text.

Speaking of vocabulary terms, there is a direct link to a glossary of terms for all chapters. Users can hear word pronunciations by tapping the play button.  You can also record yourself saying the word and then play it back, but these recordings cannot be saved in the app.

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you about a neat interactive in Chapter 3 when you tap the blue coded word: periscope.  The right side bar displays both an ocean animal and meter.  As you move the joystick to dive deeper, the animal found in that depth appears with a brief fact written underneath the picture.  When the waters become too dark, you can switch on a flashlight to get a better look!  HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Just when you think that you've seen everything, you stumble upon a link for teacher resources that contains information about each book in the Crack the books series, lesson plans, study guides, worksheets, activities, and standards.  In fact, there is so much information at this link that I couldn't fit it all on one screen shot!

Here are some other features to the Seashores to Sea Floors app that were not applicable for my review, but you may find handy in your settings:

  • Cloud backup setup for student settings, bookmarks, highlights, notes, and tests via Dropbox
  • Create notes within the text
  • Search target words
  • Edit text size
  • Have text and test questions read aloud
  • Dictation for essay questions
  • Customize tests
After reading through one chapter, my son graciously agreed to taking a test (with a little encouragement via m&ms). Here are some sample question types:

Upon completion of the test, I was prompted to email the results to a teacher.  I sent the information to myself and opened a document with the questions and indications as to whether his answers were correct or incorrect.

When I asked my eight year old what he liked about this app, he replied, "I learned some new things, and I really liked the videos, fun facts, and definitions." He added that some of the vocabulary was pretty hard for him though.

This past school year, I have volunteered in my son's second grade classroom to read excerpts from the young, National Geographic series.  Even though the students in his classroom are divided into small groups of five or six kids, the reading material is rather challenging for advanced readers in the class.  Despite the vivid images, listener comprehension has appeared rather low.  After reviewing this book in the Crack the Books series, I cannot wait to show it to my son's dynamic, classroom teacher, especially since both the school and the classroom have access to iPads!  I think that she will appreciate something that can be geared towards second grade reading levels with vibrant images and interactives!

You can purchase this unbelievable Seashores to Sea Floors App at iTunes for $9.99.  Mobile Education Store was kind enough to donate a code for one, lucky follower!  Try your luck in the rafflecopter below:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mobile Education Store provided a code to review this app and one for a rafflecopter.  No other compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

1 comment:

  1. Kyle has great apps. I use them all and his newest ones like the one you reviewed look fantastic.