App: Clicker Sentences
Developer: Crick Software
Category: Education Apps
Clicker Sentences is a word-based sentence building tool for ages 3 to adult. App developer Crick Software was founded by educators and works to serve educators. They have been creating award-winning educational software for over twenty years and ventured into the app market in spring of 2013. Clicker Sentences is designed to support curriculum while meeting multiple learning needs in the classroom and homeschool settings.
How it Works
Students follow visual or spoken sentence models and recreate a sentence by touching words in the proper order. Prompt choices are either spoken only, a pop-up model, or an onscreen model. The words in the selection grid can be in random order, sentence order, sentence order with prompts, or alphabetical order. Students can use a pop up keyboard to personalize their work.
Completed documents can be saved, air printed, or emailed directly from the iPad. Shared projects can be created via Dropbox. The ability to move work between the iPad and a classroom computer loaded with Clicker 6 (Crick Software’s elementary word processing program) helps schools make the most of limited access to technology.
Why it Works
Crick Software uses Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in all of its classroom technology. According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, UDL is “a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”
Support Curriculum with Learning Grids
Teachers can create their own sentence sets or access LearningGrids.com for free pre-made sentence sets on a variety of curriculum topics. The diversity of subject matter and grade levels offered is amazing. LearningGrids can be directly downloaded onto the iPad through the Clicker Sentences app after online registration is completed.
Kid Testing Clicker Sentences
Clara-Bear really enjoyed Clicker Sentences. Or maybe it was the topic I selected for our custom sentence set – her upcoming birthday. I made a small social story and had her try every prompt level for the same sentence. She began with a model sentence on the page and the sentence words in proper order. The final sentence used a verbal model and her word choices were in random order.
It didn’t take long for my tech-savvy girl to figure out that all she needed to do was touch the words in left to right order to create the sentence. As the prompt level faded she had to actually read the sentence and read the word choices. There’s no reward built into the app, but Clara-Bear carries her celebrations with her. Her happy cheers told me that she knew when her sentence was complete. Since I’m a mom, not a teacher, walking through the prompts was a great way to determine which settings would help Clara-Bear make the most of this app.
Tutorials, Videos, and Support
I highly recommend that new users of Clicker Sentences budget time for learning how to use this app. It’s worth it! Here’s a few tips:
The app comes with an in-app video tutorial that is only available the first time it is opened. Only the first user in a shared iPad setting gets to view the video! Consider the video step 1 of the learning process. It refers you to a guide in the help section which is the mandatory step 2. It contains must read information not included in the video.
The online pdf version of the guide is is not linked to from the Clicker Sentences webpage. It’s found in the Support section. But don’t select Clicker Sentences from that page’s side menu! Scroll down the screen to the Clicker Sentences image and select View Documentation. After that step is when the term User Guide is finally used.
Use Customer Support! They did a wonderful job of piecing all this together for me. They also referred me to the Crick Software Facebook page, where video tutorials are regularly added. Crick Software has several products, and Facebook’s Video page format does not display titles for the videos. I had to scroll and randomly click on videos to figure out which ones would help expand my Clicker Sentences knowledge.
Saving Sentence Set Documents
I was confused when text from a completed sentence set remained on the screen after I opened a new sentence set. I looked everywhere for an exit or home button that would autosave my work and clear the screen. There is a back space option, but clearing the screen word by word or letter by letter felt wrong. I even tried shaking the iPad!
Customer Support bailed me out by explaining that I have to create a new sentence set document and save it in order for the old document to be automatically saved and cleared. At home, the best way to get my Autistic or TD child to walk away from the iPad is for me to start scrolling through menus. In school, teachers will have to step in between every sentence set or every child and create a new set on the spot to clear the screen.
Clicker Sentences supports internal folders. A teacher or parent could conceivably create work folders for different children in advance. The children could move from sentence set to sentence set or the iPad could easily be shared between children if an adult was not needed to create a new sentence set for every transition. The current setup hinders independent work and creates poor flow.
What We’d Like to See
- A video tutorial for teacher and student users that is available at all times, either in app or online.
- Crucial user information in one spot instead of split between the video, in app guide, and Internet.
- All user resources labeled in a way that the most tech-naive user can identify.
- Links to all Clicker Sentences resources on the Clicker Sentences webpage (this includes videos).
- A quick exit that clears the screen and prepares the app for a new user or sentence set.
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