Can video games increase reading skills in children? I believe so! The article “Good Video Games and Good Learning”, by James Paul Gee discusses this topic and breaks down the ways that certain video games can actually increase learning! The ways in which he explains how risk taking can be encouraged through video games really struck me because this is such a problem for some children and teachers! We are now using the Voyager Readwell program for some of our students and the online component is “Ticket to Read”, which all the kids absolutely love! They are only allowed to do it for the last 20 minutes of class and it reviews keys concepts and strategies that the students should have learned. There is a toy shop and club house where the learning takes place. Gee mentions how “players” can go back to the same place where they left off with video games, which encourages them to keep trying. Ticket to Read works the same way and the students get rewarded after completing a section. I also competely agree with him about “situated meanings” Gee states, “Recent research suggests that people know what words mean and learn new ones only when they can hook them to the sorts of experiences they refer too….” This is so important in literacy and building vocabulary! Students cannot just memorize a definition and “learn” the meaning of that word. They need to use it in context, play with it, explore it, etc. The Educational Leadership article “Welcome to Our Virtual Worlds” touches on similar issues and stresses that certain video games offer development of complex thinking skills and problem solving ability; both of which are essential in the development of literacy skills. Games like SimCity, Oregon Trail and Zoo Tycoon all offer opportunities for learners to develop a strategic plan to ensure the success of their structure, building or design. I recently purchased a v-smile motion video game system for my children. I purchased several learning games to go along with it and am looking forward to setting it up for them on Christmas morning! Video games should never replace reading an actual book or playing outdoors, but they can certainly add to childrens’ development of reading skills. My kids currently use Starfall here and there and it has definetely helped them to further recognize how print has meaning at the age of 3.5. The Educational Leadership article also mentioned how teachers should act as guides when students are using video games for learning; this applies to parents as well!
Can video games improve reading skills? December 5, 2011