One of the biggest challenges of teaching is discovering what motivates students to want to learn and succeed in the classroom. At LearningWorks for Kids, we believe video games and other digital technologies are incredibly powerful and motivating tools for teachers to use to engage students in their learning. Students play video games and use other digital technologies on a daily basis outside of school. Incorporating the use of these technologies in the classroom gives students the opportunity to participate in real-world learning activities, hopefully inspiring them to become life-long learners.
Many Alternative Learners who struggle with executive skills are likely to have some signs of learning, attention, or social/emotional difficulties. These students often do not learn skills such as planning, organization, and time management without direct instruction, modeling and practice. They may struggle to sustain attention to a task or have difficulty remembering multi-step directions. The use of strategic teaching principles has proven to be very effective in working with students with these kinds of difficulties. Video games and other digital technologies are valuable tools to teach Alternative Learners about these different Thinking Skills, and to help give them strategies to use to improve their skills over time.
Video games and other digital technologies are also highly motivating tools for teaching academic content and skills. With the growing number of educational games and technologies available, teachers can easily incorporate a variety of technology-based activities in their instruction of core academic content areas, including reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.
Explore the tabs on the right for more information on how to incorporate videogames and other digital technologies in your classroom to teach both Thinking Skills and academic content.
Digital Technologies in the Classroom
Keeping students engaged and interested in their learning is a concern for all teachers who want to see their students succeed. Research suggests that this success will be greatest when students are taught in an environment that best meets their developmental needs. When we “meet students where they are” and provide them with authentic learning opportunities that are grounded in real-world applications, they are more likely to see the value in what they are asked to do in the classroom.
Giving students real-world educational opportunities today means taking into account all of the technologies that are accessible for student learning. Take literacy for example. Technologies like computers, cell phones, social networking sites and blogs have revolutionized the way people read and write. Many students are reading and writing on social networking sites on almost a daily basis. They are texting each other an an enormous rate throughout the day. Imagine how motivating it can be for students when their classroom begins to mirror the real world in terms of meaningful use of and access to this technology to improve their reading and writing skills!
Another activity involving technology that many students engage in on a daily basis is video gaming. Video games are effective learning tools not only because they are highly stimulating but because they also practice skills and interests in a reinforcing manner. Learn more about The Power of Games and how they can promote enhanced engagement in both directed and incidental learning.
Here at LearningWorks for Kids, we will show you how to use video games and other digital technologies in your classroom to enhance your instruction of core content areas. In addition, because educational research has shown that Thinking Skills such as Planning, Working Memory, Organization, and Time Management are crucial to academic success, we will help you find digital technologies to use with students that develop these important Thinking Skills.
Effective use of video games and other digital technologies in the classroom requires thoughtful and strategic teaching. Your skills as a teacher will help students to identify their own application of skills and content knowledge while participating in fun, motivational learning activities.
Learn more about Strategic Teaching with Video Games.
Many Alternative Learners have difficulty with tasks that require the use of what we call Thinking Skills, including: Focus, Flexibility, Organization, Planning, Self-Awareness, Self-Control, Time Management, and Working Memory. Our Thinking Skills are derived from years of research on executive functions— the brain-based cognitive skills that manage critical thinking. These Thinking Skills represent both individual executive functions, as well cognitively-linked categories of two or more executive functions.
Research shows that many classroom tasks require the use of Thinking Skills. For example, a student with Working Memory difficulties may have a hard time following multi-step directions in the classroom. A student who struggles with Flexibility may have a difficult time transitioning from one activity to the next or adapting to schedule changes. At LearningWorks for Kids, we provide teachers with strategies to use to teach students about these important Thinking Skills and how they connect to success in the classroom. Our goal is to make learning about Thinking Skills as engaging and motivational as possible by using video games and other digital technologies as teaching tools.
Visit the individual Thinking Skill pages below to learn more about how each skill is connected to academic performance.
Incorporating digital media in classroom instruction of academic content and skills is an engaging practice that motivates students to succeed. Not only are there a variety of video games and other digital technologies that address specific content and help students practice specific academic skills (such as apps that help elementary students practice their multiplication facts), there are also a number of technologies that can be used and applied effectively in any content area or grade level.
One of the great things about incorporating video games and other digital media into classroom instruction is that there are unlimited options! For example, teachers can model and use a reading video game or app as an activator to get students engaged in a lesson, as a station activity during a lesson, or as an extension activity to be done in school or at home by the whole class, a small group, or an individual student. The adaptable nature of many of digital technologies naturally makes them strong tools for differentiating instruction and creating meaningful learning opportunities for all students. At LearningWorks for Kids, we will show you how you can use different video games and digital technologies in your instruction of different academic content areas.
Visit the Academic Skill pages below to find out more about how students use Thinking Skills in each content area, and suggestions for incorporating digital media into content area instruction.