Review by Shaun Langevin, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2018
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Stick Around by Tony Vincent

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Sorting and labeling puzzles are easy to play, harder to create

Subjects & skills

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Ability to add audio to stickers, import Explain Everything videos.

Cons: No built-in photos or photo search, no way to view or download user-created puzzles from within the app.

Bottom Line: Useful app for assessing and demonstrating learning, but creating or finding sorting puzzles takes time.

Teachers can use Stick Around by Tony Vincent in any subject area, at any grade level. Create puzzles where students drag labels onto a map, match a lowercase letter with its uppercase partner, match vocabulary terms with definitions, classify types of leaves, sort different rock types, sort the powers of government among the three branches, and more. You can add audio to each sticker, so students with limited reading ability can complete sorts as well. Students can then check for errors and fix anything that's incorrect. When they're done, they can save a photo of the completed puzzle as proof of their work. If you also use Explain Everything, you can import your explainer videos into Stick Around.

Of course, students will get even more out of creating their own puzzles. While any age can play a puzzle, creating puzzles probably works best in third grade or higher. After receiving instruction on using the app, students can then create puzzles involving whatever they're studying and have their classmates try them. Students can also design sorting puzzles for younger students, which is a great community-building exercise. It would be useful to have students sketch what their final, completed puzzle will look like to support them as they create.

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Stick Around by Tony Vincent is an app for playing and creating sorting and labeling puzzles. When you first open the app, you're able to select from a handful of pre-made puzzles, such as sorts on the water cycle, cell biology, order of decimals, and state labeling. When creating your own, you can choose from some basic templates or choose a blank one. You begin by selecting a background; the background is what students will be sorting their stickers over. Several wallpapers are available, which you can create boxes, circles, or other shapes on top of. A camera feature can be used to make backgrounds, so students can neatly draw what they are studying, such as a volcano. Students can then snap a photo of it from within the app and create empty boxes for the sections to be labeled.

Next, you create the stickers. These can be simple text labels, drawings, or photos. Place these in the correct spot on the background and move to the answer section. In the answer section using boxes, circles, or other shapes, you tell Stick Around the correct placement for the label or sticker. From here, audio can be added to each sticker. Next, hit Play and make sure the puzzle works the way you intend. Once these are created or loaded onto the iPad, students complete the sort and tap Check. They're then able to see which items were correct or incorrect and they have the opportunity to fix whatever they missed.

While sorting and labeling promote lower-level thinking skills, there is, of course, some learning benefit. By completing and creating puzzles in Stick Around by Tony Vincent, students can demonstrate evidence of learning. There are, however, a couple major issues that prevent this app from being a slam dunk. While creating puzzles isn't necessarily difficult, there are several steps involved, and instructional time will need to be devoted to using and understanding how the app works. There isn't a bank of pictures or clip art in the app, so if you want students to use photos from the internet, they'll need to download copyright-friendly ones from other sources. This is an important skill for modern students to have, but it does add more steps to the project. The app has a simple help page, but teachers who want more in-depth tutorials will need to go to Tony Vincent's Stick Around page at Learning in Hand.

It's surprising that there's no central hub to search for puzzles that other teachers and students have created from within the app. Instead, teachers and students will need to search the internet to find files that will work and download them onto the iPad. There's integration with popular services like Google Drive and Dropbox, but the user will need to go outside of the app to download those things. This decentralized storage and sharing method will sometimes lead to missing links. Likewise, if a teacher wants to download a puzzle onto a set of iPads, they'll need to make sure that its done before the lesson or teach their students to do it. None of these issues are necessarily deal-breakers but are important considerations for using Stick Around.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students and teachers will appreciate the clean interface. Once they've spent time with the app, they'll enjoy creating puzzles and seeing others solve them.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Assess lower-level thinking through teacher-designed or student-created sorting activities. Students who are creating puzzles will need extra instructional time to understand the app and the necessary workflow.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Each part of the app has its own help page explaining each button or selectable object, and in-depth tutorials are available on Tony Vincent's website. Decentralized storage and sharing methods force students out of the app. 

Common Sense Reviewer
Shaun Langevin Technology coordinator

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