Adventures in Sequencing with HearBuilder

Also known as How to Teach Story Telling…

Otherwise known as Why Yes, I Can Tell You What Happened!

In previous posts, I’ve written about HearBuilder Following Directions (three posts even….talk about verbose!). Today, I have the pleasure of writing about HearBuilder Sequencing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I like it as well as, possibly even better than, the following directions software.

sequencing

For those of you unfamiliar with the HearBuilder software, it is a series of great software targeting some hard-to-target skills. There is HearBuilder software for Following Directions, Phonological Awareness, Auditory Memory, and Sequencing. For each of these titles there is a “home” version ($69.95) with which you can:

  • Use with 1–4 children
  • Choose general levels of play for each child
  • Monitor child’s progress
  • Print progress reports
  • Add background noise at expert level to give children practice attending in distracting situations

There is also a “Pro” version ($99.95) with which you can:

  • Monitor progress and track data for an unlimited number of students
  • Individualize each student program
  • Set levels of difficulty for each activity
  • Add background noise at any level and adjust the volume for each student
  • Customize and print reports
  • Analyze all responses

What’s really nice, is that SuperDuper Publications Inc. now has an online version as well. So, instead of having to rely on a CD for the software package, the SLP (or teacher) can access the software online from any computer. What an awesome opportunity! While I have only used the CD version (I don’t always have an internet connection available), I’ve been told the online version is the exactly the same.

What I really like about this software

As we all know, sequencing is an important skill for students to have. In order to tell a story, write an essay, or simply complete projects – correct sequencing is a must. However, many of the students we see lack this important skill – which is why I was excited to get this software.

Customization

The program can be customized for each student. To begin, choose a sequencing task (stories or instructions), then choose to show pictures, play audio, and/or show text. Since I am a firm believe in incorporating the literacy components, I opted to show text, play audio, and show pictures. Then comes the really exciting part – choose the number of steps you want the student to complete…anywhere from 2 – 6 part sequences. Finally, you can choose to have the background noise available (to increase the task difficulty). Finally, click Play Game.

Data

The data collection provided by HearBuilder Sequencing is great. First, at the bottom of the screen is a row of “buttons.” When the student completes the activity correctly on the first try, the full button is colored. If the student makes an error in the sequencing, the incorrect pictures are pulled back down to the bottom of the screen and they are given the opportunity to complete the task. If the task is completed correctly on the second try, half of the button is colored. If the student is unable to complete the task after two tries, the button is not colored in at all. The data kept for each student details the percent correct (80% allows them to move to next level) and the number of steps.

When the student has completed the level, they are given “tokens” and allowed to play in the “arcade.” My students have loved this ability. An added bonus, is some of the arcade games are more expensive so the students learn the benefit of “saving” too (okay…that’s a bit of a reach – but I have had that conversation because of this software!).

Common Core

Yes…I know. Common Core State Standards are everywhere. They are here and waiting to be embraced. The SuperDuper website states that the HearBuilder Sequencing software meets CCSS. You can read about it here.  I’m not entirely sure how the software will teach the skills needed for some of those (e.g., “9 Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.”). While I have difficulty seeing the “comparing the opposition of good and evil,” I definitely can see how it can help understand the “patterns of events” et. al.  and with a bit of “extra” help (after all the software can’t do it all) I can see where comparing and contrasting can happen.

Reality

I’ve realized that it doesn’t really matter what I say here or what the back of the package says…or even what the website says. What matters is the results. Do the clients enjoy the activity – or do they resist it? Does it get results or do I need to go back to paper pencil tasks? Is it worth the rather spendy $99.95 Super Duper is charging for the pro-version?

I’ve tried the software with kids in kindergarten all the way up to 4th grade. In my opinion, the software isn’t really geared for 4th grade students (but to SD credit, it doesn’t say it is)…The tasks were challenging – but for this particular student – the animations were a bit … babyish. However, it could have easily been this particular student. The 6 item sequencing was challenging enough for him – but he wasn’t really motivated by the software.

However, for the younger students, it was a huge hit! My kindergarten up to 2nd grade students love (and request) the program. They enjoy the arcade games and the sequencing is able to be set enough to be within their zone of proximal development so it’s challenging but not frustrating.

More importantly, there are results. In the case of G, a 1st grade student, we have moved from being unable to sequence 2-step directions to sequencing 3-step directions relatively easily and 4-step directions with a bit of assistance. We are now working on sequencing stories. Even more importantly, G has started showing an interest in telling stories and narrating events of her day. She’s actually initiating story telling which she wouldn’t do before.

I understand we need to have data to support that something works…we need to have a way to show progress is being made. I definitely “get” that agree with it… But there is nothing that beats the grin on a child’s face as she’s able to tell you a story.

I am happy to report that in my opinion the software is definitely worth the price for the pro-version. The program is interesting and motivational and the data it keeps is helpful for progress monitoring. The customization is easy to understand and easily changeable. The software is appropriate for preschool through early elementary. All-in-all, I’d say the software is a must-have for any SLP working in the school-system.

Are you familiar with the HearBuilder software? Which one (or two) is your favorite? I’d love to hear from you. I can’t wait to try another one…What do you think? Should I try the auditory memory or phonological awareness? Let me know!

Until then…Adventure on!

Mary

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