AppStore User Rating:
Blades-the Grassland Biome is truly an example of the power of digital learning using the iPad. The app showcases all of the best features of the device by marrying them to outstanding, valuable science content.
- Adjustable reading level from grade 1 to grade 8
- Multimedia presentation
- Capability to manage multiple student records
- Optional commonly-used accommodations for special needs students
- Common Core connections
Blades-the Grassland Biome is one of the highest quality apps I have seen. The directions are clear and accessible and the app has loads of features that will individualize the experience for students. Videos and pictures are very high-quality and well suited for the lessons. Teachers and parents with several youngsters will appreciate the app’s capability to manage multiple students easily.
This app does a great job of presenting science concepts generally covered in upper elementary grades. The presentations are organized and clear, the text is extraordinarily well-written, and the multimedia aspects enhance learning. Students can access supporting definitions, interesting facts, interactive maps, and more. Individual student records can keep tabs on bookmarks, highlighting, notes and test results, so teachers or parents can check progress. The app also gives instructions to access supplemental materials and lesson plans on the developers’ website for free, so there is a wealth of related information at your fingertips.
Even if this were all of the app’s features, that would be several steps ahead of many similar type digital textbooks, but that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. One feature stands out as exemplary, and that is the built-in capability to adjust the reading level of the text and tests. The information in the app is intended for students in grades three through five, but teachers and parents everywhere know that many students do not read exactly on their grade level. Struggling students may have difficulty with grade-level text and talented students may be bored by the same passage, and both students may sit next to each other in class. Blades-the Grassland Biome solves this problem neatly. The reading level is adjustable from grade 1 through grade 8, accommodating nearly everyone who might need to access the information. In the Options section, turn on even more special accommodations, such as optional narration, adjusting the text size, test reading, recording instead of typing essay responses, and more. The flexibility and adaptability of this app nearly defy description, so I urge you to download it and check it out for yourself.
Be sure to read the included manual so you can take advantage of the app’s power. You’ll find the manual in the “Media” section.
While this app is not really intended to be entertaining, it certainly will be engaging for elementary students (and even older youths). The etextbook includes a wealth of interesting facts, and the multimedia supplements will be very popular. The interactive map feature allows students to explore in their own way, and offers supplemental information that is not in the text itself.
Don’t make the mistake of balking at this app’s slightly higher than usual price tag-it should be compared to textbooks or workbooks instead of other apps. The interactivity and the adjustability alone make it worth the investment, especially if you have a student (or students) who need a bit of extra stimulation or those who need extra accommodation. The app’s ability to keep records of student use and to send test results to a designated adult make it very valuable for classroom or family settings.
Blades-the Grassland Biome includes no in-app purchases, no outside advertising, and no social media links. However, the Settings section is not protected, and unauthorized persons could access it to change details such as reading test questions aloud, turning test images on and off, or changing the text size. Perhaps of most concern is that the Settings area also includes a link to DropBox and the teacher’s email address. One problem of note: if the link to DropBox is activated, then canceled, the user is not always returned to “Blades,” but sent to another app in the series, “Pines to Vines,” if that is available on the device.
Blades-the Grassland Biome may well be the ideal digital textbook for third through fifth grade students who need to learn about grasslands for fun or for science class.