Conversation Builder by Mobile Education Store has been such a helpful app in teaching my elementary aged students the art of conversation. I have never had such quick and specific, positive feedback from parents after using an app for therapy. Parents have noted more appropriate emotion in their child’s replies as well as correct timing in asking questions and introducing themselves. They cited specific times on the weekends when their child engaged with a new child sounding like the conversations modeled in Conversation Builder!
So, I was excited to try out Conversation Builder Teen, “a Conversation Simulator designed to help teenaged children learn how to have multi-exchange conversations with their peers in a variety of social settings. The auditory pattern of conversation is presented in a visual format to help students recognize and master the flow of conversation.”
Just as effective in simulating initiating and responding to peers in a conversation, this app takes on the inuendos of teenage verbal exchanges with 300 interactive conversations. I’ve got to say that it brought me right back to high school and I found myself getting nervous as the pictured teens talked about getting dumped by their boyfriends, showing off new outfits, being included by the gang and navigating relationships.
Like its younger counterpart, Conversation Builder Teen allows for students to select the conversation type from 2-3 players or a group, and select from 8 conversation themes: school, relationship, sports, entertainment, bullying, sarcasm, clothes, and summer, making the content relevant to them. Students initiate and respond to conversations by choosing the best of 3 options for a reply. If they choose the wrong answer, the moderator gently gives them feedback and tips on what would be a better answer, “Those are details that aren’t important for this conversation,” or “That response will likely make your peer feel worse. Try something that will make her feel better.” These tips have been helpful to me as I use the same language in prompting appropriate conversation outside of the app experience with a student. The student records her answer and listens to the next reply. If more than one peer is talking to her, the face of the peer is outlined and separated from the group picture so you know who is talking. These visual cues are so important for students who have difficulty with pragmatic language and my be strong in visual skills.
At the end of a conversation, students can play back the entire discourse which I find very helpful as the model is reinforced for them, with the appropriate flow of conversation. Students and therapists can email their conversation to parents or teachers. Parents really appreciate this feedback and it is gratifying to hear their child engaging in an appropriate conversation. Each student has a progress page which keeps track of correctly completed or saved conversations by theme.
An important feature of this app is Parental Controls which parents and therapists can enable so students don’t have access to some conversations that discuss Sex, Drugs and Bullying. I found it was important to explain the content of this app to parents before using it with their child. One mom didn’t agree with how one of the bullying conversations was handled by the options for responses (that she would take a different tact of not taking on the bully). But actually that lead to a good conversation with her daughter about the fine differences between responses, and mom bought the app for use at home!
I highly recommend this app for teaching students how to navigate teenage conversations, responding to slang, satire and honest exchanges. A teen’s language is full of inference that our students need to interpret correctly to respond in like. Being able to converse with teens in their language, dude, strengthens relationships and allows our students to fully participate with their peers.
Available at Mobile Education Store: Click here