Literacy by Demografix

29 Oct

Literacy by Demografix app iconYou may have read my reviews of School Writing, School Fonts, and Ghost Type, three apps which I consider must-haves for teachers and parents alike. Today I’m reviewing a fourth app from Demografix, Literacy, that promises to be just as useful.  There are two main sections to the app:  Lessons – Words and Sentences, and Whiteboard activities.

Lessons – Words and Sentences

This section is similar to the lessons in the other Demografix apps. The big difference with Literacy is that you are not limited to a set number of characters (12 in School Writing and 10 in School Fonts). This makes it possible to enter a child’s full name along with sentences. You are also not limited to the length of the screen either, as text can be scrolled, either screen-by-screen or by free scroll. The first time we tried scrolling the text, it was a little awkward, but my children caught on quickly and now have no problems.   There are more than 40 activities and lessons included with the app, and these also serve as an example of what you might do with your own content.

It is very easy to create an activity. I was able to create a “write your name” lesson for my 5 y.o. with written and verbal instructions, plus a photo, in just a minute.  if you have any other of the Demografix apps, you won’t have to re-learn how to create activities.  See the video below for a demonstration of the lessons and how you can edit them.

Whiteboard

This is very similar to the Whiteboard activity in School Writing. You can import graphics, including scanned text, to create lessons for any subject area.  Some of the things you might like to try include:

  • Labelling parts of a picture or diagram,
  • Drawing routes on a map
  • Drawing lines to connect pictures that rhyme (or other matching content)
  • Drawing “what happens next”
  • Filling in blanks in forms
  • Creating tracing activities for foreign language characters.  This would lend itself particularly well to Asian languages

Here is another video by Demografix showing the Whiteboard in action:

Other Features

  • Individual profiles – Once you set up different profiles for each of your children or students, you can track their progress, seeing which activities have been attempted and completed.
  • Reporting – There are options to have results emailed to you as a video recording, and you can change this option for each lesson.
  • Fonts – In addition to some standard fonts, Literacy also features beginner and cursive scripts for all Australia States and Territories, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These are particularly useful in activities involving tracing or completing words. Use the Settings to select the desired font.
  • Guidelines – You can choose to  have all guidelines, guidelines except mid-line, or no guide lines.  You can also select to have standard guidelines, or dotted thirds. The guidelines are similar to those you will find in student exercise books.
  • Import/Export activities – As with all other Demografix Apps, you can share your lessons and activities with other users, making it really easy to set up class sets of iPads. You can also submit activities to Demografix to be included in their activity library, but make sure you don’t include any personalised or copyright information or images. Let’s hope these libraries take on so we can have access to even more great activities.
  • Locking – You can lock the app with a PIN to prevent children from making changes or deleting exercises and student profiles.
  • External Links to Help, the iTunes store, and Social Media can be turned off using the settings.

Special Needs

Instructions for each activity can be in the form of recorded voice, or text, and you can also include images. Children who have difficulties reading will benefit from having recorded instructions and picture cues. I imagine symbol libraries could be used in this app very easily. If preparing lessons for children with a hearing impairment, the text directions will be valuable, and you could again use graphic cues for extra support.  This app will be a great tool for helping students learn personal information, including name, address and phone number.

Some suggestions

Apart from their spelling, sentences, tables and reading, most of my children are asked to do some vocabulary activities with their spelling lists each week. A sheet listing various activities has come home, but their teachers are open to other ideas. Some of the activities we have created include:

  • Cloze activities
  • Fill in the missing letters
  • Which words rhyme.

My 5 y.o. will be starting school next year. I am using Literacy to help him practice personal information including:

  • Writing his full name
  • Recognising and writing his address
  • Writing our home phone number

The Whiteboard activity will be brilliant for learning to write characters from foreign languages.  Not only will teachers be able to see the characters written, but they can be emailed video reports that show if the student is doing particularly strokes in the correct order and direction.

Students might find it easier to use a stylus for some activities. There are many types available, including two I reviewed earlier this year.

The ability to create custom activities means you will be able to use this app across subject areas and grades. You can create age-appropriate activities for older children operating at lower levels than their peers, and you can use it to scaffold class activities so that they can be doing parallel work to their peers at their own level.

In addition to the two videos I’ve linked to in this post, Demografix has other videos online website that show the features of the Literacy app in more depth.  You can find them on this page.

Verdict

I love this App. I love all the Demografix apps because, along with all the great activities provided with the app, I can make it do exactly what I need it to do. This is more than just another educational app: it is a teaching tool. Every school using iPads will want this App, and I can recommend it to every parent. Schools might be interested in Apple’s Volume Purchase Program, where they can purchase multiple copies at a reduced price.

Publisher: Demografix
Price: $5.49
iPad only

Literacy - demografix pty ltd

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