As you hopefully know (and if you don’t, scroll down a bit or click here) I recently reviewed Hear Builder Following Directions from Super Duper Inc. I promised a more thorough review once my students started using it and my first impressions. So…are you ready?
First, I’ll say my student (a 1st grade boy with a sound system disorder [phono], phonological awareness/reading difficulties, and a moderate language delay was very excited about playing on the “puter.” What he didn’t realize is that he’d be learning a bit too.
To start with, I set up the system with his name (well, initials really) and had him start at the very beginning – much like I would for a pre-schooler because I wasn’t sure of his level. I adjusted a bit as we went along. He enjoyed the idea of being a toy maker, but truly it was the lure of the computer that excited him.
At the beginning, he was obviously bored – it was too easy. The directions for the first exercise were too easy: “click on the dog.” As he went along though, the directions became harder: “Click on the blue dog that is shaking,” and “click on the ball that is above the dog.” Things were definitely looking up and it was taking him just a bit longer to click as he processed the directions.
After a bit more of that, we went to another activity. He was very keen on clicking on door number 5 which was the “shipping” activity. Basically, conditional directions. If the box contained a certain toy or toys, it went on the truck. If it didn’t, it went back to the warehouse. This was a bit more challenging for him as he had to listen for the conditions. Obviously as there were more conditions (a giraffe and a guitar) he had to listen more closely. After the truck was filled, my student had to “drive” it to the store.
Overall, this activity was good. However, there were no directions (unless he clicked through them too quickly) to show HOW to drive the car. It took both of us several minutes to get the truck to the store (and to be honest, I’m still not sure exactly how we did it). Apparently there’s a combination mouse/space/keypad click…or something. I’m definitely going to have to go back and look at the directions to figure it out. We were both a bit disappointed. It was fun when it was working – just the delay in getting it working was frustrating. He was quicker to give up trying to get it going than I was.
When I asked him if he liked the computer game, he said yes – and he couldn’t wait to play it again…The next time he came, I made it just a bit harder and added the “background noise” that is optional for all settings.
I have to say, I was VERY impressed with this. I expected a buzzing or hissing noise and I wasn’t overly excited about it. What I got was a busy classroom complete with kids voices, teacher voices, desks, papers, etc. It sounded EXACTLY like a 1st grade classroom. When I first turned it on, I left the task level at the same degree of difficulty from the previous day. Big mistake. He tried for about 2 times and then said it was “way too hard!” I turned down the difficulty of the task to start with and allowed him to “learn with the game” and it was better for him.
I love this part of the activity because I’m better able to get a feel for how a child will perform in a busy classroom. Can they filter out the background noise? If so, this task won’t be nearly as difficult. But, if they (like this student) has difficulty with it, I definitely have some considerations and accommodations I can give to his teachers to help in the classroom. Originally, I had thought the background noise was an “added bonus.” Boy was I wrong – now I consider it a key point.
Overall – so far, I’m still willing to give Hear Builder Following Directions a firm thumbs up. I’ll be posting again about this (probably later this month and again in September) to discuss how using this has helped this student (and whether or not he stays interested in it). We’ll discuss more of the activities and what age groups I’d expect to use them with also.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear if you have any familiarity with this software. Do you like it? Not like it? Have you used any of the Hear Builder software??? (I’m looking forward to seeing the other two pieces!!!!)…
Until then…Adventure on!