February 8, 2016

Mobile App Helps Students Adapt to Dyslexia

By Rob Klindt, Contributing Writer | Literacy Resources

English language arts and reading teachers quickly learn the myriad factors that affect how students learn. And they do their best to consider a student’s individual learning style and educational/socio-economic background when developing lesson plans.

The "Letter Cross Tracking" app helps students cope with the symptoms of dyslexiaBut some students present even deeper challenges, especially if they have dyslexia, a learning disorder whose symptoms include slow reading and a tendency to mix up similar letters and words, resulting in poor spelling and writing skills. The condition can affect up to 20 percent of the population, according to the International Dyslexia Association.

The keys to helping students with dyslexia are early diagnosis and frequent practice studying letters, spaces and words. For teachers in tablet-enabled classrooms, an excellent resource for helping these students is an educational app called “Letter Cross Tracking.”

The app focuses on developing tracking and visual perceptual skills in young learners to help them correctly identify commonly confused, reversed or inverted letters in simple text. Attention to spaces between letters and words is also important.

Other skills addressed in the “Letter Cross Tracking” app include:

  • Figure ground. The ability to screen out irrelevant visual material.
  • Spatial relationships. The ability to identify the position of two or more letters.
  • Visual discrimination. Differences and similarities between two or more letters.
  • Visual tracking. The ability to search for a given letter inside a cross pattern.

The app makes a great supplement to formal class instruction for students who need extra help or are in independent studies.

How it Works

The app boasts a simple and colorful interface highlighted by three-letter puzzle exercise games in the forefront. Players start by using a finger to tap the navigation button marked with an “I” in the lower right corner of the page to view instructions on how to play each game. Next, tap the “Home” button in the upper left area of the screen to return to the homepage.

Tapping the “Select Player” button at the bottom of the homepage lets students add a user name and create a scoreboard.

When they’re ready to play, students tap one of the puzzles and then choose the “Level 1” button. Each puzzle displays a letter cross pattern, similar to a tic-tac-toe game layout. Key letters are displayed in random boxes and highlighted in yellow. To the right are four similar layouts with letters distributed differently and not highlighted.

Students first study the highlighted letters. Next, they look at the four other layouts and scan each row from bottom to top and from left to right to find a letter match. Then they tap the matching layout. If they’re correct, a congratulatory audio prompt will play and game points will automatically be added to an onscreen scoreboard. Students cannot advance to the next exercise until they choose the right match.

A multitude of dynamic features keep students engaged and entertained while playing the game. The most prominent features are:

  • Audio prompts
  • Automatic scoring for up to three players
  • Easy tap and swipe actions
  • Fun animated monster characters
  • Three levels of play

The three challenge levels include 150 puzzles. The easiest level includes two letters and two spaces, the next includes two letters and five spaces, and the most complex includes three letters and six spaces.

What’s included

Content in the “Letter Cross Tracking” app is all-inclusive. Once it’s been downloaded into a device, all content, including animation, sound effects and automatic game scoring, will work without an Internet connection.

After students have mastered simple letter and word space recognition in the app’s free version, there is an in-app purchase link available to add three more challenge levels. These tracking exercises include 450 more complex letter puzzles. The cost is $3.99.

An Internet connection is needed to make the in-app purchase.

Download details

The “Letter Cross Tracking” app by Visual Learning for Life is free. It can be downloaded from iTunes and is compatible with iPhones or iPad tablets running iOS version 6.0 or later. It’s also available on Google Play and is compatible with smartphones and digital tablets running the Android operating system 2.2.3 or later.

Rob Klindt’s “App Reviews” combine his passion for writing with an ever-growing interest in educational technology. His simple, straightforward approach to reviewing educational apps help educators and parents leverage new tools for students in and out of the classroom.

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