Category Archives: Hybrid E-book/Activity App

Effectiveness: Memory processes, multiple sensory channels

Title  Effectiveness: memory processes, multiple sensory channels
App Name Grimm’s Rapunzel
App Maker Story Toys Inc.
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General Description Grimm’s Rapunzel is an interactive pop-up story book. It is designed for children of all ages and is meant to entertain and engage readers. The interactive pop-up features, which appear at regular intervals through the e-book, may reinforce children’s understanding of the story because they permit readers to act out selected events.
Screenshot context This particular pop up feature appears after children have read this text: “The man’s wife was taken with the beautiful flowers growing in the garden. She wished for them so much that one day, her husband ventured into the garden to fetch some for her. He would have to be careful though, because the garden belonged to an evil witch. Who knows what might happen if the witch discovered him there!” In this pop-up feature, the reader assumes the role of the husband. Readers pick flowers and apples for the wife by touching and then dragging them into the basket.
Explanation and/or commentary For young readers, the multi-modal and kinesthetic interactivity that these pop-up features afford may allow them to develop an embodied (Glenberg, 1997; Glenberg, Brown & Levin, 2007) understanding of the narrative. By touching the flowers and dragging them to the basket, children engage their bodies in the act of picking which may activate and expand their schemas of understanding for “picking flowers” or “gardens”. Conversely, pop-up features may divert students’ attention from other key ideas in the narrative. With a focus on the act of picking flowers, students might forget that the garden is owned by a witch or that something bad could happen to the husband for having stolen the flowers (both rather important ideas in this story). Teachers who choose this app, should therefore know that pop-up activities could undermine students’ overall understanding of the Rapunzel story because they draw attention to some elements of the story over others.

Motivation and Engagement: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Reward Related to Reading Activity

Title Motivation and engagement: Intrinsic and extrinsic reward related to reading activity
App Name Professor Garfield Fact or Opinion
App Maker Paws Incorporated, Virginia Department of Education
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General Description  This app is designed to help upper elementary and middle-school students to identify the difference between facts and opinions, particularly as they read on the Internet.
Screenshot context The instructions, although complex, present students with all of the benefits that will come from engagement with this app – helping Nermal, identifying fact vs. opinion, finishing a report, getting points and a higher grade.
Explanation and/or commentary The rewards outlined in this screenshot are consistent with self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Students can access both intrinsic rewards (i.e., increased competency, helping others) and extrinsic reward (i.e., getting an A.) By helping Nermal to complete his project, students gain competence and confidence in their own abilities. Given the authentic premise of this activity, students may feel a heightened sense of autonomy which has been shown to support learning and engagement (Assor, Kaplan & Roth, 2002; Guthrie, McRae & Klauda, 2007).

Differentiation: Built-in scaffolding that can be turned on or off by/for the user

Top-level Category Differentiation: Built-in scaffolding that can be turned on or off by/for the user
App Name Sid the Science Kid
App Maker Jim Henson and PBS Kids
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Description “Sid the Science Kid Read & Play” contains stories and fun activities aimed at stimulating young children’s interest in science and basic science knowledge and skills (e.g., basic facts about germs, careful observation of visual evidence). It features two story books, jokes, games, sing along music videos, and coloring pages.
Screenshot context On this app page that appears at the start of the story “The Trouble with Germs,” the user can choose from among three levels of scaffolding. The “Autoplay” option reads the text aloud, highlights words as they are read, and turns pages automatically. The “Read to Me” option waits for the user to turn the page. The “Read it Myself” option turns off the audio and highlighting.
Explanation and commentary By allowing the child-user or a teacher to choose among three levels of scaffolding, the “Sid the Science Kid” app makes possible a certain amount of differentiation of instruction and support. On a given day, some students may benefit from the audio and highlighting–supports that may allow them to read independently while attending to the story’s plot and information as much as to the decoding of words. Other students–more advanced readers–may choose to read without these supports, though with the knowledge that they can access them if they need to. Over time, all students can challenge themselves to gradually diminish the amount of scaffolding and support they use (Fisher & Frey, 2008). By making levels of support visible, accessible, and easily customizable, the app may help promote an active, independent, and problem-solving mindset in young readers (Johnston & Winograd, 1985).