How I Use It
Grammar becomes increasingly complex in fourth grade and this app was a great tool for helping one group I worked with to practice critical grammar skills in a fun way. This app provided students with focused practice on skills that they needed to improve on, but in an entertaining way that was not tedious to them. Additionally, they were able to customize their learning experience to best suit to their individual needs.
I am an elementary instructional technology specialist and I used Grammar Wonderland (Elementary) in response to a request for a good way to practice grammar on the iPads by a fourth grade classroom teacher. The class was comprised of students with varying levels of ability and language acquisition, including two ELL students. They were gearing up for an upcoming PSSA test and the teacher wanted the students to have an opportunity to review, reinforce, or extend their knowledge of fourth grade grammar concepts. Grammar Wonderland was just the tool we needed!
After launching the app, students created their own profile so that their progress would be saved as they worked. We initially directed them to the "Practice" area in order to provide them with some concentrated practice with repetition. Although some students were permitted to choose a skill on their own (nouns, verbs or adverbs), many were given suggestions for areas of practice from the teacher. All students self-selected a level (easy, medium, hard, or expert) and then dove right in to one of the related games. Despite the din of the app music and cheers from their classmates as they worked, students were very attentive to their own screens and tasks being presented. The animation and feedback (frowning polar bear when it was "fed" the wrong word) were just enough to guide the students to the correct response.
After a specified amount of time in the practice skills area, students were allowed to go to the "Explore Worlds" area to apply what they had been practicing in a less focused environment (ie. students were no longer just identifying past tense verbs, but also action verbs and practicing subject-verb agreement). This mixed practice ensured that they had a solid understanding of the skills and forced them to be attentive to what to identify within the arcade-like games. Students were very motivated to work their way through the four worlds.
The best thing I can say about this app is that it's engaging! The fourth grade students adapted quickly to the format and did not tire of the games. In fact, they wanted to know when we were going to use it again! The teacher and I were able to circulate around the room to assist students who needed help with concepts as they worked, but the students helped each other with how to succeed in the arcade-style games. They LOVED that part of controlling the game involved tilting the ipad (although it made me a little nervous) and did not seem to get tired of the three kinds of games. Perhaps if they used the app more often, this would happen, but it was not my experience.
Both the fourth grade teacher and I felt that the content was applicable and that students benefitted from the time spent on the app. Unfortunately, there are no reports or even a chart within the app to show what each user has masted. This would be helpful and would assist the teacher in evaluating which skills a student still needed to work on. However, as an add-on tool for practicing what has been covered and is being assessed in class, this app is a good fit for the intermediate elementary grades. It sells on iTunes for $4.99, but is available to schools for volume purchase for as little as $1.49 with 20 or more licenses. If that's not an option, there are benefits to using the lite version as well. I will definitely use it with students again.