Fun & Functional is an application developed by author and Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) Rosie Simms to improve language comprehension and expression in individuals of all age groups. The ability to identify and describe the function or use of real-world objects is a key language and life skill. Fun & Functional provides SLPs, parents and others with a tool to develop categorization and descriptive skills by interacting with pictures and audio.
About Fun and Functional
Fun and Functional is a fun and engaging way to teach the language surrounding real-world items and their uses. Created by a certified speech-language pathologist and developed by Smarty Ears Apps, Fun and Functional addresses both receptive and expressive language. The fun theme is sure to engage players of all ages.
A single-player app, Fun and Functional is based on research surrounding vocabulary and word-meaning development in individuals. Research indicates improving vocabulary, describing ability, and the associations between words helps individuals improve language comprehension and reading skills (Bromley, 2007). Research also shows acquiring verb-based vocabulary is typically more difficult (Loeb, Pye, Redmond & Richardson, 1996). Wanting to know more about words, also known as word consciousness, is essential for vocabulary growth and encouraged by encouraging students to play with words (Stahl, 1999). Fun and Functional is designed to help target ALL of these important vocabulary skills.
Not one…but 3 languages!
Building vocabulary with a Spanish-speaking individual? Working in Brazil? No problem! Fun and Functional includes 3 languages: English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
The selected language determines the language used throughout the app for all picture stimuli, commands, and reports.
To switch between languages, simply open the “settings” tab from the homepage. From there, in the upper right hand corner, touch the language used. The selection button will display.
Note: this area does not look like an active button.
As mentioned before, all picture stimuli and reports will now be in the selected language.
From the main page, a tap on the “settings” button in the upper right-hand corner will bring up the customization screen. In addition to changing the language setting, a number of other customizations are available.
Select the category. Simply tap on the button to toggle the category on/off. Selecting categories allows for teaching as well as assessment of skills learned.
Select level: Receptive, Expressive, or Alternating skills designed to allow for specific teaching and formative assessment.
The receptive area allows the individual to control the complexity by reducing or increasing the similarity of the images from which the individual can choose.
Items per screen and When Wrong: changing these options increases the task complexity and attention needed to complete the task
Fun and Functional has two ways to get started.
Selecting the quick play button from the main screen menu will immediately begin the session.
Caution: NO DATA WILL BE SAVED for an individual student in this mode.
However, once the session is complete it is possible to “Share” the results via email, printing, or exporting to a student profile in the Therapy Report Center.
Tap the “New Session” button to be transported to the student profile page.
There a two options for adding student profiles.
The first way to add a student profile is to simply add a player. Tap on the “add player” button in the upper left hand corner of the screen. A pop-up window will display to build the student profile.
Tap to add either a student photo or a built in avatar image. Type in the student’s name or initials. Select done to complete the profile. Once completed, the image and student name will show on the student profile page.
To edit the student profile, simply double tap on the profile icon.
Import Player from Therapy Report Center
Found at the bottom right-hand corner of the New Session screen, this button allows an individual to open the Therapy Report Center (a free Smarty Ears App designed to make data collection and caseload management easier). Simply follow the on-screen directions to import multiple players at a time.
Playing the Game
Fun and Functional helps encourage both receptive and expressive language skills. The targeted skills can be changed in the “settings” area.
The Receptive skills include as few as two and up to four picture stimuli from which to choose. The number of stimuli can be changed in the “settings” area.
The individual is asked to select the image that best answers a displayed question. High-quality Smarty Symbol pictures are used for each image.
Depending on the “settings” for when a student answers incorrectly, the app will either buzz, remove an image, or simply continue on.
For correct answers, a starburst will display and an audio reinforcement may be heard.
In addition, the app will track correct answers by coloring in the images at the bottom of the screen.
The expressive portion of the app displays a single image. An audio clip plays a pre-recorded question, which is also displayed at the top of the screen.
The professional must determine the correctness of the answer. A tap to the correct scoring bubble will track each answer. The number of answers in each group as well as the total number of questions asked is displayed.
Finishing the session
When the session is complete, a tap to the “Done” button in the upper left-hand corner will complete the session.
The screen will automatically move to the “Reports” area of the app. From here, simply tap on an individual player’s icon to display the student’s report card. The report card will chronologically display all data compiled for that particular student. From here, all the data can be synchronized with the Therapy Report Center.
If playing in “Quick Play” mode, the data card will display. On this card is the session data with date, categories, level, and percent accuracy. A tap to the “Share” button will allow the individual to export the information to the Therapy Report Center, send it via email, or print. If not shared, this information is lost once the data card disappears.
Visual and Auditory Reinforcement
When playing Fun and Functional, the player will receive both auditory and visual reinforcement. Each correct answer provides a verbal “Yay!” and displays a fun swirl visual reinforcer.
The results of an incorrect answer will depend on the customization selections in the Settings menu. The professional can choose between continuing, a “buzz” sound, or simply removing the incorrect selection.
During play, an on-screen tally helps the student keep track, and a correct answer fills in a smiling face icon.
When done with the session, a simple tap on the done button brings the user to the reports center.
Fun and Functional and the Common Core
With the wealth of data available Fun and Functional is the perfect companion to help students meet common core requirements in English Language Arts. Answering “WH” questions, Producing and expanding complete sentences in shared language activities, and sorting common objects into categories is a requirement of the Common Core State Standards required in most grades (CCSSI, 2014).
Fun and Functional and Response to Intervention
Fun and Functional is an ideal component for Response to Intervention (RTI) as well. The app, with teacher direction, allows for an intensive teaching of the material, expansion of vocabulary, and application of the skills learned. The data collection that occurs for each player allows individual progress monitoring to occur. Exporting into and out of the Therapy Report Center ensures progress monitoring is maintained easily.
Fun and Functional has the following features:
High-quality images using Smarty Symbols showing real-life items
Ability to use the app for screening or teaching
Data Collection over time for each student
Compatibility with Therapy Report Center for easy report writing and progress monitoring
“Functional, just like the name! Tons of everyday objects in this app to help kids with vocabulary development. I can use this with so many of my students!” http://crazyspeechworld.com/
“The app is great for multiple ages. I used it this week with 14 year olds with severe cognitive deficits and with first graders. The images are appropriate for both.” http://thespeechroomnews.com/
“The thing that I like most about this app is that it pauses on the expressive part even after you have recorded your data, so that you may ask additional questions and describe the items.” http://speechuniverse.blogspot.com/