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!
The Problem With Leveled Books… November 21, 2011
We all love leveled books, especially with all the new software programs and websites that offer leveled e-books! However, when the whoel book leveling idea came to be, books were labeled with a letter or even actual grade level right on the spine of the book. Students being told to get a book “on their level” may seem harmless enough, but what about when other students start making fun of the student that is getting a “level 1” book and the other kids are getting “level 5” books… A recent article in School Library Monthly touches on this issue and explains how some libraries are still filled with books “labeled and leveled” in the way I described. Another issue is that some teachers force students to get an “on level” book, prohibiting their freedom and ability to challenge themselves! The author of the article suggests using computerized reading programs and doing away with all “leveled” libraries.
iPads for Autistic Children November 12, 2011
I am so fascinated by all of the recent research showing how beneficial iPads can be for autistic chidren! I work in a school district where there are 90+ students on the spectrum. We do not have any iPads, but they have access to AlphaSmarts and laptops. However, these tools can not do what the iPad apparently can! According to data, autistic children can learn to ask questions, coverse and even make eye contact through some fo the iPad apps available! Check out this video and please share any thoughts. I am in the process of writing a Grant to try and obtain a few for my school district!
What would we do without technology? November 5, 2011
With the recent storm and all the damage, I can’t help but reflect on how important technology is in today’s world… I was out of power for almost 5 days! I couldn’t access my email accounts, facebook, blackboard, etc. I have a Droid, but it recently cracked and has not been wrking either! It’s amazing how dependant we are on technological tools…I work for BOCES and they were closed for three days! I couldn’t believe it! The district website could not be accessed and the phones were all out of service. We are obviously very lucky to have so many resources available to us, but it does scare me that we are so reliant on them… Look how quickly mother nature took them away!
The Digital Book Takeover October 17, 2011
As a mom of three little ones (2 that are pre-k age), I am constantly reading to my children! I am amazed at how quickly they can remember the way that a word is spelled and recognize in other texts… Digital books add to the exciting time when pre-schoolers start learning that letters and sounds are connected and theat words mean something! These are a couple of my favorite sites:
The author of this blog: http://hobbymerge.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/textbooks-of-tommorow/, shares a survey in which the concept of digital books increasing in sales and print books decreasing is demonstrated. It is certainly “easier” to open up a book online and even have it read to you, but will some people rebel against this new trend in “reading” and continue to choose traditional reading methods instead? I am not certain, but i do know that digital books will continue to assist teachers, parents and struggling readers with literacy development!
A fun way to get parents involved in literacy! October 12, 2011
I just read this article about “Pocket Literacy Coach”. It’s a system where parents can sign up and they will recieve a daily text message introducing an activity to improve literacy skills. It is specific to the child’s age, grade and ability. What a fun idea to get parents involved! Some teachers could probably benefit as well! Please share any thoughts.
Bye Bye Coaches! October 8, 2011
This article is two years old, but relevant to this blog:
When this school in Florida had to make some cuts due to budget issues, the Literacy coaches got the boot!
Like technology, literacy coaching is essential to a successful school program!