Foundations I – Sky Gym

In this topic:

About Sky Gym

The Fast ForWord Foundations I exercise Sky Gym focuses on the following tasks, goals, and skills.

Task. Identify a sequence of two sound sweeps.

Goal. Develop the following cognitive and language & reading skills:

Language & reading skills

Listening accuracy

The ability to distinguish differences between sounds and to correctly identify sequences of sound. This skill enables learners to recognize and discriminate the rapidly changing sounds that are important for discriminating phonemes.

Auditory sequencing

The ability to recognize and remember the order in which a series of sounds is presented, which is critical for mapping sound sequences to letter sequences when decoding or spelling.

Cognitive skills

Memory

The ability to hold a sound sequence in working memory while recalling visual symbol-sound associations from long-term memory.

Attention

The ability to focus and sustain attention.

Processing

The ability to process tonal sweeps (auditory skill building).

Sequencing

The ability to identify and reproduce a sequence of rapidly presented sound pairs.

About the science

Sky Gym presents sound sweeps using different frequency ranges, different sequences of sounds, and different time durations. The frequencies and durations of the sound sweeps correspond to some of the rapid transitions in the sounds of the English language.

Frequency. Sky Gym presents sound sweeps in 3 frequency ranges, measured in Hertz (Hz).

  • High (2000 Hz)
  • Middle (1000 Hz)
  • Low (500 Hz)

Duration. Sky Gym presents 5 sound sweep durations in each frequency range, measured in milliseconds (ms).

  • 80 ms
  • 60 ms
  • 40 ms
  • 35 ms
  • 30 ms

For example, an 80 ms duration represents a sound sweep that lasts for 80 milliseconds. As the student progresses in a frequency, Sky Gym decreases the duration of the sound sweeps and the length of time between the sound sweeps (inter-stimulus-interval or ISI), challenging the student to improve his or her rate of auditory processing.

How students use Sky Gym

The object of Sky Gym is to help Gymbo the athlete train and generate power for the gym by correctly identifying a sequence of two sound sweeps.

To work on Sky Gym, the student clicks the Go button to hear a sequence of two sound sweeps. A sound sweep is classified as weep (a sound sweep that goes up, from lower to higher frequency) or woop (a sound sweep that goes down, from higher to lower frequency). The student must then click the up arrow or down arrow to reproduce the sequence of sound sweeps correctly. For example:

  • If the exercise presents an up sweep and then a down sweep (“weep, woop”), the student must click the up arrow once and then click the down arrow once.
  • If the exercise presents two down sweeps (“woop, woop”), the student must click the down arrow twice.

Each Sky Gym session begins with a brief warm-up activity that presents Sky Gym Help and requires the student to listen to each sound sweep sequence at the current frequency, duration, and ISI. After the student listens to all four sequences, the Exit button activates and lets the student return to regular exercise play.

Replay button. During each trial, the student can click the Replay button to repeat the stimuli again. The Replay button is only available during a trial.

Help. If the student needs assistance identifying the sound sweeps, the student can use the Help button. See Help.

Time. The timer at the top of the screen shows the amount of time the student needs to work on the exercise that day, which is based on the student's protocol. It fills in from left to right as time elapses. When the time requirement is met, the exercise automatically closes and returns to the remaining exercises scheduled for that day. If this is the last exercise for the day, Today’s report opens.

Menu. The student can use this menu to exit the exercise early, to check the network connection status, and to see exactly how much time is left to meet the day’s protocol for that exercise. To learn more see Exiting an exercise.

Keyboard shortcuts. Students who are not able to use a mouse can use the following keyboard shortcuts (not available on touchscreen devices):

  • Go button. Space bar
  • Up arrow (weep response button). Up arrow
  • Down arrow (woop response button). Down arrow

Autoplay

To help speed up progress, the student can use Autoplay to take a set of multiple trials with a single click of the Go button. Autoplay becomes available early in the exercise, after the student demonstrates a basic understanding of the concepts (usually after passing a small group of trials). Once introduced, Autoplay turns on by default. The student can turn it off or back on at any time.

When Autoplay is on, the student clicks the Go button one time to start a set of trials. Autoplay always starts with a set of 3 trials. The Autoplay counter shows the number of trials in the current set. If the student gets all of the trials in the set correct, the exercise adds one more trial to the next set. If the student gets any of them incorrect, the program removes one trial from the next set. An Autoplay set will never be less than 3 trials.

The student can earn bonus points by responding correctly to all trials in an Autoplay set. For example, in a set of 3 trials, if each trial earns 2 points, the student would earn 6 bonus points after responding correctly to all 3 trials in the set.

Help

If the student needs assistance identifying the sound sweeps, the student can use the Help (?) button to see all four possible sequences of sound sweeps at the current frequency (Hz), duration (length of each sound sweep), and ISI (time between sound sweeps).

  • When the Help screen opens, the student can click a Go button to hear the corresponding sequence of sound sweeps.
  • The student should use the Exit button in the upper right to return to Sky Gym (rather than the menu, which exits the exercise).
  • Using Help does not affect the student’s standing in Sky Gym.

How students progress in Sky Gym

Introduction

Sky Gym begins with four introductory levels that use instructions, modeling, and support to introduce the sound sweeps and the tasks. As the student progresses through the introduction, supports are gradually withdrawn until the student can work independently on the regular exercise task.

  • The student starts with Sky Gym in focus mode—a level with simplified exercise screen with minimal elements and motivational features. Focus mode removes distractions so that the student can focus on learning the sound sweeps and tasks. As the student demonstrates a basic understanding of the tasks, the interface and motivational features are gradually activated and introduced across three more introductory levels.
  • Many students will progress quickly through the introduction, usually within the first few exercise sessions. For those who struggle, interventions will provide alternative instructions, additional supports, and a more gradual introduction.
  • Sky Gym includes the introduction stages in the percent complete score for the exercise.

Tip: You can choose to present the introductions, instructions, and any interventions in another language, if needed. See Fast ForWord exercise intro languages.

Progression

After completing the introduction, the student progresses through multiple sound-stimulus sets as follows.

  • Each of the three levels includes multiple sets of sound sweeps that share the same base frequency (500 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2000 Hz). The student focuses on one level at a time, but periodically rotates between the levels. Progress in one level is independent of progress in the other levels.

  • Each set presents sound sweeps at a specific duration. Early in the exercise, sets include sound sweeps at the longest duration (80 ms). As the student progresses, sets include sound sweeps at shorter durations (down to 30 ms).
  • Within each set, the time between the sound sweeps (inter-stimulus intervals or ISIs) decreases across 45 stages, starting at 500 ms and ending at 0 ms.

Advancement

In Sky Gym, the student must meet the following criteria to advance in the exercise:

  • To advance to the next ISI stage within a stimulus set, the student must answer 3 consecutive trials correctly. If the student answers a trial incorrectly, the student moves back one ISI stage. When doing well, the student may be allowed to skip some stages. When struggling, the student may need to work on more of the stages.
  • To complete Sky Gym, the student must pass all stimulus sets at each of the three frequencies at the highest stage (ISI 0 ms)

Sky Gym adapts to student performance within each stimulus set, and will transition to a new set if the student is continuously moving between the same few stages in a set. The set will be revisited at a later time.

Interventions

The exercises use built-in, responsive technology to detect when a student is struggling and administer targeted, inline instruction—right when the student needs it—without any external resources or assistance required. This “smart learning” design helps reduce frustration as it quickly gets students back on track, where they can continue making progress and achieving gains.

Sky Gym provides a variety of in-product interventions when needed, such as:

  • Coaching
  • Modeling
  • Extended sweeps
  • Alternative instructions and stimuli
  • Modified progression
  • Alternative tasks
  • Focus mode (a simplified exercise screen with minimal elements and motivational features to minimize distractions)
  • Guided Help (the Sky Gym Help screen with guided instruction)

The student can receive 1 or 2 of these interventions at a time, depending on the task and difficulty level in which the student is struggling. Each one can take anywhere from a few seconds to 2-3 minutes to complete. When appropriate, the student’s progression in the exercise stops temporarily while working through an intervention, then resumes when the student returns to the regular exercise content.

Tip: You can choose to present the introductions, instructions, and any interventions in another language, if needed. See Fast ForWord exercise intro languages.

Mastery

To complete the exercise, the student must master all of the skills in the exercise and reach a percent complete score of 100%. To learn more see About completing a program.

How Sky Gym rewards progress

Points. The exercise awards points as follows:

  • 1 point for each correct response
  • 10 bonus points for each powerball animation
  • During Autoplay, students earn double the usual amount of points when they complete a set of trials without any errors. For example, in a set of 3 trials, if each trial earns 2 points, the student would earn 6 bonus points.

Feeder meter. The feeder meter tracks and celebrates every 1% of content completion. At 10% complete, the meter is full, and it “feeds” that percentage into the progress meter and resets. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Percent Complete History report.

Progress meter. The progress meter tracks and celebrates every 10% of content completion. Each marker represents 10% of the exercise. When all 10 markers light up, the exercise is complete. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Percent Complete History report.

Completion status. The completion status sign shows the actual percent complete score for the exercise. The score updates each time the student completes 1%. For more on percent complete scores see the student’s Percent Complete History report.

Current streak (3 in a row). At the start of each new session, the exercise tracks and shows the current “winning streak” of consecutive correct trials. After 3 consecutive correct trials in a session, a “3 in a row” sign slides onto the screen. The score increments until the streak is broken (on the first incorrect trial), at which point the sign disappears from view. The current streak sign resets to zero at the end of each streak, and at the start of the next session.

Highest streak. At the start of each new day, the exercise tracks and shows the student’s best “winning streak” of consecutive correct trials. The score appears after the first 3 consecutive correct trials, and remains on the screen throughout the day. Any time the student surpasses his or her highest streak that day, the sign updates to show the latest number. The highest streak score resets to zero at the start of the next day.

More rewards. In addition to the current streak sign, the exercise uses other fun animations to encourage progress.

  • Sky Gym presents three exercise machines in a circuit across four workout levels. Each time Gymbo completes a circuit through all three machines, Sky Gym increases the workout level by modifying the machines. To meet the increased challenge, Gymbo acquires specialized leg extensions to help him train harder and generate more power for the gym. The number of extensions holding the horn indicates the workout level for the current circuit.
  • The three vents on the power generator light up to indicate the number of consecutive correct responses. When the student answers three consecutive trials correctly, the generator powerball accumulates more energy and the counter resets.
  • When the student answers three consecutive trials correctly six times, the powerball shoots into the generator, and Gymbo’s workout switches to the next exercise machine.