This is the first of a two or three-part post about Hear Builder Following Directions, available from Super Duper. This first post will be about my initial reactions to the materials. The second post will be about my client’s (children) reactions to the content, and (hopefully) the third part will include some data to show effectiveness. If anyone is familiar with this software (or it’s sister software) I’d love to hear about it…Leave me a comment.
In the meantime, back to the review.
My initial reaction upon seeing the Super Duper box was, of course, excitement. Who doesn’t love to see that box with the infamous logo? When I opened the box and took out the software, I was pleased. It looked like it would be fun and I loved having the booklet as well as the CD. As you can see, the copy I have is the “professional” copy which means I will be able to store data for multiple users. There is also a “home” copy available for single student users. The “home” version is $69.99 where the “professional” version is $99.99.
The manual contains an introduction, directions for installation, theory information, and learning objectives.
The installation of the software is very easy. The software will run on both Windows and Mac. The CD is required for running the program and only student information is stored on the hard-drive. The booklet suggests students use the same computer each time so the data can be stored over multiple uses.
The software provides a list of all the students that have been added to the program, the dates and times each student completed the first activity, the date and time of the most recent activity, and the most recent score achieved in each activity. The scoring data provides both the highest activity level the student reached and a percentage of accuracy (e.g., level 3, 70%). Each activity presents items in series of 10 so it’s easy to determine number/percent correct (70% = 7 out of 10). For each activity, if the student earns less than an 80% the game presents 10 more items at the same level. A score of 80% moves to the next level.
The software is easily customized for each student. The settings that are changed are for each activity and not universal so if a student is struggling with a particular concept, the settings for that concept won’t affect other concepts. The manual explains how to change the settings very thoroughly with picture explanations.
One of the ways the software can be customized is by including background noise. As we all know, some students have difficulty listening/distinguishing between sounds in background noise. By adding background noise, we can allow the student to practice listening with competing noise. I would suggest (and the manual does to) having students practice without background noise first to make sure they understand the task and are successful. Then turning on background noise to increase difficulty.
A second customization is whether students are allowed to earn a quick motivational reward game (one minute or less). These games appear when the student completes each level for three activities.
Who wouldn’t want to be a toy maker? The software allows students to become “Master Toy Makers” by completing games in the program. Two animated characters introduce the games and explain the directions. I can foresee this being a great hit, particularly for some of the younger elementary students (K-2).
The software includes a number of different activities. The software package states the students will “Follow increasingly difficult directions” and “Demonstrate knowledge of 40 basic concepts in five areas:
- basic directions
- sequential directions
- quantitative & spatial directions
- temporal directions
- conditional directions”
Each level starts relatively simply and increases in difficulty. The manual reminds the adult that some students require teaching of concepts prior to completion. For instance, the child may know basic colors but fail the task because he or she doesn’t know first, second, or third.
The manual is wonderful in that it provides the theory behind the software. It also discusses how to remediate “auditory processing” challenges.
Since this is a review, it’s only fair to tell the reader what my impressions are and why. Please know, these are my initial impressions. My impressions may change as I become familiar with the software and see the results. The reader’s impressions may vary significantly from mine.
PROS: The activities look fun. The concept is similar to Earobics in that the student listens, the activities increase in difficulty, and multiple concepts are targeted. Both programs are touted as appropriate for “auditory processing” difficulties.
In reality, I can see this software being a great addition to my therapy tools. I believe it will help with teaching basic concepts, progress monitoring some hard-to-define skills, and it will be motivating for students. If the students are allowed to graph their progress I can see it being extremely motivating. I love that data the software provides and can easily see using this as a progress monitoring tool.
CONS: The animations, etc. are definitely geared for the younger client. I most likely would not use this for middle school students or even older elementary.
My biggest pet peeve (and I readily admit – it’s MY pet peeve) is the use of the term “auditory processing.” Does it help with auditory processing? Probably. However, an SLP cannot diagnose APD and cannot treat it by software alone.
My personal feeling is that this will help with language processing challenges. Using the background noise training will help with auditory processing, definitely…but the challenges of concepts, following directions, etc. are more of what I understand to be language processing. When a student fails to grasp a 3-step direction in a quiet atmosphere it’s not necessarily his auditory system failing to work correctly – it’s his language processing that (in my opinion) is the most likely problem. As we all know, the diagnoses of (C)APD is complicated, time-consuming, and controversial. Even among professionals there is little agreement.
However; personal bias aside, if we ignore the diagnosis label and focus on the skills the student needs to be successful in life (and that is our ultimate goal), the software should help. The skills it helps teach and practice are fundamental to being successful in school and ultimately in the adult world.
I’m looking forward to trying this software with a student next week when Extended School Year begins again. I will let you know what the students think.
Until then, Adventure on!