There are times when something makes you think, “you’re meant to write a blog post today” and today is one of those days. I received an alert via AppShopper that an app I use and one I’ve been wanting to write about dropped in price. So here I am, writing a post so that maybe you can take advantage of iRewards being on sale. Both of the apps below are great apps to use for behavior plans.
There are many ways to utilize iRewards but recently I used it with a student who needed a lot of external motivation in order to persevere through challenging tasks. Who would have thought the cognitive assessments that require a student to get 5 or 6 wrong in a row would be frustrating?!
I think of iRewards as similar to token strips meaning you have a set number of tasks, steps, behaviors, expectations you want the student to complete before they will receive a break or reward or preferential activity. An example would be 5 math problems before earning time on an iPad. Within iReward you would choose “reward after 5” and then the picture might be one of an iPad or a picture of the student playing on the iPad.
Pros / Features
- Multiple student rewards can be set-up
- Multiple goals/rewards for each student
- Ability to email and then import already set-up rewards
- Ability to record voice praise for completion
- Lock the screen so the number of behaviors can’t be changed without knowing how to unlock the app
- Google image search built in so you don’t have to first search google and then save the image to your camera roll.
Cons / Improvements
- I wish you could customize the stars to make them something else like other shapes especially if a student is especially motivated by earning coins, cars, trains, etc.
The main screen you see once you have the goal and rewards setup
Multiple goals for each student as well as the ability to share and import
- Change the number of tasks for child to receive before reward. Import images from google. Record verbal praise
Additional setup features such as locking.
Who doesn’t like a little excitement delivered by a random reward? Win a Spin is a 6 space spinning wheel that you can customize for what rewards are displayed. This would be great to use as the reward for the tasks completed with iRewards app. If you’re thinking, whatever happened to a good sticker chart, why so many bells and whistles? I think about that sometimes as well.
Pros / Features
- Plenty of places to put in potential rewards
- Great exciting way to provide random reinforcers
Cons / Improvements
- Have to fill in all 6 options otherwise you might land on a blank space
- Can’t have multiple spinners/students set-up
- Only text rewards, not images
Additional Ways to Utilize these Apps
I love utilizing both of these apps in conjunction with Intervention Central’s Jackpot Reward Finder. I often have teachers look at which rewards they’re willing to offer to students and then I work with the students to have them indicate which rewards they would really like to earn. I’ve stopped being surprised by how many students want rewards such as adult attention through game time, or talk time, etc.
What other apps to you use to support behavior plans of behavior interventions? I’d love to see some more and try out other ones!
School Psychology Tools App
I’ve now written several times about the School Psychology Tools app as updates have come out. A new update was released last week and provided some functionality I’ve been asking for. Woohoo! Ask and you shall receive, right? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has asked, but it makes me feel good nevertheless.
Entered students/clients can now be archived when they age out, move, exit interventions, etc. This helps me immensely in cleaning up my student list within the app so I do not have to scan through a massive amount of students to find the student I need.
Actually archiving the students didn’t immediately stand out to me but consistent with previously provided developer support, within an hour I had a response to my question.
First touch the “edit” button in the top right corner.
Then select the students you want to archive by touching the circle to the left of the picture/name (makes it turn to a red check mark). Once you select one or all the students to archive, touch the “archive” button at the bottom center.
If at some point you want to see the archived students touch the “select” button (bottom left) and choose “inactive” to view all of your inactive students.
The new features are definitely easy to use, once you know how to use them. These are great added features and I can now remove it from my wish list but I still have one big wish for this app. I would return to using this app for every observation if I could take notes while the observation was running, similar to the BehaviorLens app, rather than pausing the observation and then opening the notes section. I’m certainly not saying that the BehaviorLens app is a better app since it also has several notable weaknesses and both have strengths that make my work easier than before I had the apps.
Is there anything else you wish was an option with the School Psychology Tools app or any great parts of it that I’ve overlooked?
BehaviorLENS is an iOS app for school psychologists, social workers, behavior specialists, teacher consultants, etc., really anyone who observes behavior. I took the leap and purchased BehaviorLENS ($29.99) to see if any of the cons I noted with SchoolPsychTools were addressed in this app. The quick response is…some but not all which is pretty typical because I doubt we’ll ever have the perfect solution. My review includes mostly information about the interval recording, frequency count, and duration options and not the ABC observation because I have yet to use it. So even though I don’t discuss does not mean that I don’t like or that it is great and no areas to improve upon, just a lack of information to share.
- One feature I really like in BehaviorLENS is the ability to note behaviors as they happen and have a time stamp added to note. While this doesn’t lead to a structured observation it does allow you to add notes about other behaviors, classroom events and such while completing a structured observation such as an interval recording method. This also allows you to see how some things unfold during the observation.
- The pre-loaded lists of behaviors is outstanding, I can’t complain at all about how much is already included which is less work to set up. Also, the pre-sets of certain behaviors being “not engaged or “engaged” and “not disruptive” and “disruptive” are helpful as well.
- The ability to combine reports is great although there is one trick I figured out. You must run a report for a single observation and then run a second report where you can choose all of the observation sessions available. If you don’t first run one report, the option to add other observation sessions is not available. Weird, but a pretty easy work around.
- Reports are broken down in multiple ways. For example a report provides the percentage of intervals on-task versus off-task but then also another report of the percentage of intervals of all the on-task behaviors (ex. listening to discussion, interacting with teacher, transitioning, seatwork, etc.)
- Reports are easy to email to myself to include in my psychoeducational reports. I usually end up copying just the graphs from the BehaviorLENS report and adding them to my own reports, not using the whole report.
- Password protected. Always good.
- While their support on their website isn’t stellar when I sent an email asking about running multiple observation reports they did get back to me and were helpful. It is always nice to have helpful support personnel.
- Good video tutorials on their website.
Weaknesses – Reports
- My biggest disappointment overall is when you create a report rom duration observation the total time for each behavior is not provided. A graph with some approximation is provided but this lack of information forced me to write in my report, “on-task approximately 15 minutes”. Not ok.
- Surprisingly, even though I’m very happy to be able to add notes while the observation is in progress with time stamps, the time displayed is only the hour and minutes, not seconds. This makes it difficult when I’m going back in my notes to remember if two notes happened 5 seconds apart or 59 seconds apart, if the notes happen to take place at 2:15.01 and the next at 2:15.59, currently both are noted as 2:15.
- When you run the Duration observation report you’re only provided with duration data, not frequency data even though the instances of behaviors is actually counted in the app. Seems weird and an easy fix to add the instances to the report.
Weaknesses – Functionality
- As I stated above, one of the strengths is the amount of pre-loaded behaviors to choose from. The down side to this is that there are so many to choose from. A “favorites” list or a list of focus behaviors for that particular student might be helpful.
- Within the Duration observation section, it is great that you can choose 1-4 behaviors to focus on during the observation but I’m so surprised that the GREAT behavior lists from the interval recording method isn’t included so instead you write your own. Pros and cons to this.
- The recording button within the Duration observation method doesn’t change much and makes it hard to quickly determine if you’re recording or not. I’ve had mini heart attacks when I look and think that I haven’t been recording a behavior when I have been.
- A requirement to choose the activity at the start of the observation would be helpful because sometimes I forget to “change the activity” at the start of the observation.
Overall, BehaviorLENS is a good observation tool. What I’m most excited about is the ability to add notes while I’m observing and not having to switch between an observation app and note taking app to make notes during the observation.
Any pros or cons that you’ve found when using BehaviorLENS?
In the educational realm, most people know that April is Autism Awareness Month. There are many public relation activties going on to raise awareness around autism such as Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue campaign. World Autism Day is actually today, April 2nd. I know many of us work very hard every single day to support students with autism by working directly with students, working with parents, improving educator awareness around autism and so today is not that different than every other day. Also, even though I’m on spring break I know that my students at home with autism don’t have a day off from their autism because it is World Autism Day or Autism Awareness Month. I know there are parents, sibling, family members and caretakers at home today that will experience the range of emotions that come every day in the lives of families impacted by autism. So while I know for some families, today is just like any other day, I hope that families and educators can remember and celebrate some of the laughs, joy and smiles that surround working with students with autism. I know I’ve reminisced about a few humorous recent events.
I can personally reflect on my own increased awareness and understanding of Autism just this year. I’ve spent many hours this year in professional development sessions focused on understanding the difference between ASD and Emotional Impairments, or ASD and ADHD or ASD and Cognitive Impairments. Our district also provided us with the great opportunity to be trained in using the ADOS-2 which reinforced a lot of previous knowledge but provided new learning for me. With my new knowledge and reinforced previous knowledge, I’m able to approach tech resources for students, parents and educators better. One such example is in a drafts posts about digital social stories and I’ll make a point to finish and publish that post during April. But for today there are great apps on sale that I’m going to download, check out and see if they are good or not. You should take advantage of these sales now too in case an app that I review later is really good but has gone back up in price. If it isn’t a worthwhile app then I’ll let you know you can and should delete it.
Here are some autism awareness and world autism day resources:
Enjoy looking at all of the apps that are on sale, learning great new information or reaffirming previous knowledge today and throughout the month of April. And if you haven’t turned your facebook, twitter, linkedin account Blue yet, do it now!
A while ago I wrote an initial review on the app School Psych Tools which is an app specifically created for School Psychologists. I know! How often does that happen?! As with any app there are pros and cons but what distinguishes a good app from a great app is when the developers respond to feedback and actively work to improve their app. This is the case for School Psych Tools. I’m not going to go in to the previous “Pros” I described in my first post but I will review changes made that were “Cons” previously
Cons – Now Pros:
Previously the app was for iPhone and the background was grainy when you ran the app on your iPad. This is no longer the case. The app is a universal app meaning it is optimized for both iPhone and iPad. The graphics are great on both devices. No complaints.
Previously you could only view the app in portrait mode which wasn’t helpful if you preferred typing in landscape mode but this has been corrected for the iPhone and iPad. Type in landscape mode to your hearts content. If you want to get really fancy undock and split the keyboard for when you don’t have a table to sit and type when you’re observing.
When using the age calculator, you’re now able to change the date of birth date and the testing date and you’re not limited to only using the age calculator on the date you are testing. This is a great feature for me especially when I have too much to do and too little time. Anyone else feel that way?
Features to Be Desired:
Here is where my lack of technical expertise comes in to play and limits my ability to understand if the app is doing what it says it is supposed to do. Password protection. As I discussed in my first School Psych Tools post, I strongly encourage you to password protect your whole mobile device but when individual apps are password protected I perceive my sensitive information is even more protected. The School Psych Tools Manual indicates that by following their password protection steps that an additional level of data encryption is applied. You do not have to enter a password every time you open the app and the manual suggests that this is what the user would want. I “feel” better when apps ask me to put in a passcode when it opens, whether the app is actually more secure or not, I don’t know.
The observation features and settings in the School Psych Tools app are some of the best I’ve seen in the observation apps and services available for individuals completing in-school student observations. Here is my “wish list”
- Add narrative information to an observation without pausing the active observation. A format such as split screen would be a good option.
- When you can add narrative notes to the observation while it is running the added notes should be time stamped.
Another welcomed feature would be the ability to make students “inactive” after they have left your building for whatever reason. This would also be helpful for a case when the student is doing so well that they are no longer receiving intervention supports. The app developers have shared that this feature is in the works so this will be a great and useful addition in the future. As I mentioned in my initial post on the pros and cons of School Psych Tools, the developers of the app are responsive and open to feedback. They’ve proven that they listen and make the tool better. Who wouldn’t want to buy a tool that continues to get better and the improvements are free?
I have been using Psych Tools regularly since I started using my iPad at school. Despite the app being focused on support school psychologists, one of the reasons it tops my list and is the first one I want to share is the great support behind the app. After using the app for a while I submitted feedback to the app developer and we engaged in a dialogue about what I liked and didn’t like about the app. Many of my suggestions were ones they were working on but others were features they hadn’t yet thought about. This back and forth is certainly the type of responsiveness I hope every app developer will have, but I know it isn’t reality. So because of their responsiveness, the app is one of my favorites.
Simply stated, it’s an app made for School Psychologists. This fact alone makes this app better than others apps to support our day-to-day work. Features include multiple observation methods (event recording, duration recording, interval recording, and ABC recording), observation reports, student list, evaluation time-line/to-do list, stopwatch, age calculator, and normal distribution chart. The observation tools come pre-loaded with several standard behaviors but additional behaviors can easily be added. If you have a standard template for completing observations you’re able to set-up your own observation templates. Knowing what observation tool to use for your observation takes a little getting used to but after several observation sessions you’ll have no problem knowing how to setup the observation in the app to meet your observation needs. A great feature for the app is the ability to create reports from single or multiple observations for an individual student. While the reports are basic you are able to print (if you have the capability) or email the report to yourself to be inserted in to your report. As for the evaluation tracking and task lists, if you’re like me, you might not always remember to create your evaluation task list on the day the consent to evaluate is signed. The app calculates the evaluation due date based on when the “Obtain Consent” item is completed but you are able to manually change the due date for the “Complete Evaluation” task. There are task lists already created for evaluations and re-evaluations but you’re able to modify these lists to add additional items specific to the student or to all of your comprehensive evaluations and save your “regular” tasks to your own evaluation template. To-do lists are also available for Interventions.
The app is not individually password protected. You can always password protect you’re entire iPad/iPhone but you can’t password protect this specific app. The app is actually an iPhone app but you’re able to load and view it on an iPad however images get slightly distorted between the two platforms. You also are not able to switch between portrait and landscape. The age calculator is great if you’re using it on the day you want to calculate from however if you want to calculate a student’s age several days after you completed the evaluation you’re not able to change your target day, it is set to the current date (see PAR toolkit for app that allows you to change the target date). While there are several observation options in order to add narrative information you must pause the observation and add a note. An improvement suggestion has been made to split the screen in order to record narrative notes while still gathering duration or frequency behavior data. I’d also like to see a feature where you can make a student inactive after they have left your building or cases when the student is doing so well you’re not long supporting the student. I have provided suggestions to resolve these “cons” to the app developers and they have been very receptive and indicated that many of my suggestions were already on their list of things to work on. With app developers as responsive as they are, this app will only get better.
If you’ve been using Psych Tools, what do you like about it? What features do you wish it had? Are there creative ways you’ve found to use that app to overcome some the apps weaknesses?