Common Sense Review
Updated November 2015

The Social Express II

Fabulous multimedia lessons boost social-awareness skills
Common Sense Rating 5
  • Webisodes address a large variety of common social situations.
  • Weed through webisodes by level and social skill.
  • Fabulous teaching tips are ncluded in each lesson.
  • What will Sammy's correct choice be?
  • Activities include following directions.
Pros
Interactive lessons connect to the real world; extensive teacher tools support learning.
Cons
Subscriptions can be pricey.
Bottom Line
Compelling webisodes help students learn to cope with real-life situations.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Exquisite graphics and animation will make kids will feel like they're interacting with a character from their favorite animated movie. Each scenario is familiar to elementary and middle school children, making this a go-to app.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Kids are actively involved in determining appropriate social cues as they help the characters make choices in a variety of real-life situations. These are skills kids can use while playing with friends and with classmates.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

There are few in-app guidelines for navigating through the webisodes, but the companion website offers more help. The site also has plenty of resources available to explore, including curriculum guides and student-progress trackers.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Depending on your students, The Social Express II can be great for whole-class, small-group, or one-to-one instruction. Using a Smart Board, you can show webisodes to your students and have them help characters make correct social choices. Have students role-play the given scenarios within each lesson to reinforce social concepts. Observe interactions in your classroom to identify particular areas of weakness, and choose webisodes that target those areas. As students become more involved with the lessons, you might even want to video or record students to help them evaluate their presentations. Have students discuss other social situations they may encounter in school, such as the locker room, the hallways, or recess.

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What's It Like?

The Social Express II is an animated app for boosting kids' social-awareness skills. Each lesson presents daily interactive social situations using video modeling, "hidden rules," and suggestions for how to solve problems in daily life. Beginner lessons encourage kids to explore nonverbal cues and the importance of eye contact. Intermediate and advanced lessons help kids transfer social rules into real life. Each level includes teacher tips to help teachers guide students in resolving the intended social lesson.

After setting up or selecting a profile, teachers or kids choose a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced webisode. The fully animated lessons target many of the social skills kids encounter in their day-to-day lives. Kids help each character resolve social situations at locations around town including a café, a fire station, a music store, and a park. Every lesson offers the option to stop and replay. A companion website offers a wealth of guides and resources as well as student-tracking options.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Animated characters and real-life social situations capture kids' attention and offer them a natural way to understand and practice key social cues and skills that are needed for success in life. The app uses beautiful visuals and animation to present realistic day-to-day social scenarios. Each lesson offers kids the chance to make decisions about the choices the characters make -- and witness possible consequences of those choices. When it's time to make a choice, it's not always clear what the different options represent, so kids may just choose at random. Kids try again until they make the "best" choice.

Sometimes the action choices feel black-and-white and the resolutions lacking nuance, and sometimes teachers may not agree that the "good" choice is really the best possible outcome. For these reasons, The Social Express II may not be a good resource for all kids. However, there is always a better choice in opposition to "not so good" choices, which puts things in very clear terms for kids who struggle with social situations. Repeating the lessons can help increase a child's social awareness. And kids' choices in the app can seed discussions about how to transfer these social skills to kids' personal lives. Printables allow kids to have a tangible reminder about coping strategies, feelings, and more; kids can carry these with them or post them on a wall.

Part of what makes the app shine is the guidance it gives teachers, from the "teaching tips" that appear during a lesson (which can be turned off for students using the app independently) to the comprehensive Curriculum section with lesson plans, assessments, printables, and more. The Clubhouse social network raises privacy concerns because kids can reveal personal information; it's optional, though, so teachers can simply choose not to allow students to participate.

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See how teachers are using The Social Express II