Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2015
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U.S. Presidents

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Flashcard quizzes touch on key POTUS trivia

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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Grades
6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Smart Study feature helps kids maximize their study time; links to videos build interest.

Cons: Few options for customization limit its impact, and in-app ads distract from the experience.

Bottom Line: A good starting point for reference, but look elsewhere for deeper study.

Use U.S. Presidents as a reference tool for kids to explore basic facts about the presidents' lives and time in office. Have kids enable the Smart Study feature to maximize their gameplay. Have kids race each other to see how quickly they can complete quizzes with different target info (like Vice President). Encourage kids to create their own informative videos for each president, using this app as a starting point and discovering more details through further research.

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U.S. Presidents is a reference and quiz app for learning about the presidents of the United States. From the main menu, users can select Learn to browse brief biographical flashcards on each president, from Washington to Obama. Selecting Lookup from the main menu lets users sort and search the cards and sort them differently, but it links to the same info. Each card features each president's dates of birth and death, dates in office, vice president, political party affiliation, and a piece of trivia. A Videos button at the bottom links out to a page on the developer's website, where users can play up to three videos (created by other organizations) that offer further details.

Users might also explore the Quiz option, where they can select a "practice field" to be quizzed on different items of presidential trivia (including Took Office, Vice President, Number, and Full Name). After 10 questions, users see their total time and the total percentage of questions they answered correctly. Back on the main menu, the Settings feature lets users adjust their experience, while the Parade feature displays the image of each president, from Washington to Obama, while playing "Stars and Stripes Forever."

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Some features have real promise. The Smart Study feature (under Study Order in the Settings section) lets users instantly focus their study on flashcards they missed on a quiz, making this a nicely responsive tool for targeted review. However, the level of detail available in the app is low, and there's not much info to study on each flashcard. The link out to videos on the developer's website has real promise, and some videos are solid; those produced by CSPAN and the Freedom Project are especially detailed. However, it's not clear why these videos are included or how they're different from each other; it would be better if users had a clearer sense of why these particular videos are featured, how they relate to one another, and how kids can use the information they discover. It would also be better if there were more ways for kids to customize their experience, either by annotating the cards, bookmarking cards for later review, or even saving their high scores from the quizzes.

Overall, U.S. Presidents is a good tool for quick study and reference, but teachers and students should use other tools and strategies to build their knowledge and understanding of the American presidency.

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Overall Rating
2

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
2

Users have several ways to view, sort, and study presidential trivia, but limited info and features have little appeal.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
2

The Smart Study feature is a standout tool for targeted study; otherwise, the info available is especially brief and lacks detail, making it a better fit for quick reference on a few key facts.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
1

Though it's easy to use, there's no clear path to follow through the app, making it tough to determine what the features do and how to use them methodically.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Chris C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Concordia International School Shanghai
Pudong, 31
2
U.S. Presidents commits a misdemeanor.

Overview
U.S. Presidents, an Android and Kindle app, is a flashcard-style quiz and learning tool. The information is rather shallow, dealing almost entirely with lower-order thinking skills such as identification and recall. If a teacher has as a learning objective that children memorize the presidents, then download and run with it. If, on the other hand, a teacher wishes to teach and practice higher-order thinking skills, conduct primary source document analysis, or otherwise construct lessons along the Common Core model, then this app is probably not for you.

Concerns
My primary concern is with the shallow level of learning available here. I am not a fan of flashcards. Rote memorization is not the basis for lifelong learning or problem solving.

Sample Uses
As a sponge activity, this flashcard app will do. Also, if one wishes to brush up on their Trivia Crack skills, this app can be interesting to pass the time. Otherwise, I do not see many academic uses for this app.

Do I plan to use it?
No. Not with my US History students, nor my APUSH kids.

Commitment and Learning Curve
Low-Medium. It depends upon the purpose for which one uses the app. It is simple to download, but requires time to use.

Best for ES MS or HS?
MS

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