Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Easy Teach -- Customizable math and spelling words app

Purpose of App: Allow teachers (or parents) to personalize spelling lists and math facts and track student progress

Strengths: Customizable, informative feedback

Weaknesses: Cannot customize per student.  Subscription needed after trial period.

Suggested Audience: Anyone looking to work on either spelling or math (addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division).

Star Rating Breakdown
Meets Intended Goal: 4
Entertainment: 3
Worth the Price: 3
Ease of Use: 4
Educational Value: 4
Level of Customization:3

If you would like to download Easy Teach (FREE for 30 days, then $4.99 per year, iPad Only) and support Smart Apps for Special Needs in the process, please use this button below:


30-day free trial, $4.99 per year after that
Link to register and set up user account

Easy Teach is a fairly simple app which allows teachers or parents to set up spelling lists and math skills for students. Two mini games, within the app, allow children to practice the skill set established for the class.  For the purpose of this app, I will assume it is a teacher or a parent working in the capacity of a teacher who is using this app. Although I will refer to the adult user as "teacher," parents and therapist could also find this app useful.

A user account must be created at http://easytea.ch/ prior to use. The app does not allow a guest or practice option, only registered users may play. Registration is free, and it is fairly simple to set up student accounts for the app.

The content of the mini math and spelling apps is highly customizable. Teachers can easily create multiple spelling lists, title the lists, and select the ones applicable at that time. This is great when it comes time to review at the end of a term and teachers wish to quiz students on multiple lists. The old lists are saved and easily re-added.

Teachers can also set up class appropriate math skills. The skills available to choose from include addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with numbers 0-12. Multiple number sets can be selected from different categories or just a single number.

Once the user account has been created and everything has been set up, students are able to log in.  Each student is given a name and access code -- a 4 digit number auto generated by the app.  It may be helpful if the teachers are given the option to create passwords themselves, but that is not currently an option.

Students can play either of the two mini games, as long as the teacher has selected those skills to be covered. Teachers can then log into to the webpage to view a nice breakdown for each student of all the student's progress. The feedback includes a percentage of correct answers per student as well as a list of the most commonly missed spelling and math questions.

Sample progress screen from website

As customizable as the curriculum is for this app, there are some other areas where further customization would be beneficial. For one, the app auto-pronounces the spelling words in a semi-robotic voice. The words are said fairly fast which could be difficult for a child needing words to be said slower. I would like if the app allowed the teacher to record themselves saying the word with the speed and annunciation needed for the students.

In the math segment, the bugs with the answers go by at a set pace. Children struggling with math may struggle or be discouraged if the answers move across the screen too quickly.  It would be nice if the teacher had some control over the speed of the answers.

I like the fact that the first month is free to give people a chance to try out all the features. If someone does find it useful -- which it really can be -- then they have the chance to pay to continue using it. However, I would like the option to continue using a lite version, but still be able to use the app. Perhaps a lite version could remove the progress tracking aspect and the ability to set up accounts for multiple children. At the current system, after 30 days, none of the mini games work. You either pay $4.99 a year or the app is basically no longer usable.  And to me, this app does not offer enough to warrant a yearly subscription.

This app is not specifically designed to work with special needs students, but with a little more ability to customize it could be more beneficial in that area. Even though the target is general classrooms, it could still benefit from allowing the teacher to have some customization per student. In general, students progress at different rates. Teachers select spelling and math skills for the whole class. If part of the class is ready to move forward to more complex skills, they must wait until the teacher advances the whole class.

Overall, this is a nice app which is good to help students. Teachers can personalize the curriculum to work along side what students are currently learning or need to review. Though it was created for in school use, parents and other care givers could easily use it to help children review at home.

From iTunes:

Easy Teach allows teachers to upload their own spelling lists & math facts to our website, and track students' progress as they play customized games!

-Teachers login to our website to input their lesson plans and we generate them into fun games for students!
-Kids have fun and compete to get the highest scores amongst their peers while the concepts they learn in class from week to week are reinforced. 
-Teachers track each individual student's progress and see which concepts may need more in-class attention.

In Pest Control, bugs branded with different numbers crawl across the screen. A math fact will appear every ten seconds. Students will "zap" as many bugs with the correct answers on them as they can in 1 minute. 

In Space Hero, students hear a spelling word and spell it using the flags provided. The object is to spell as many words correctly as they can in 2 minutes.

Rachel H. and her 7 year old were competing to see who could get the high score in the math section. She won 3 out of 4 times.

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