Thinking Skills Club Embodies a New Kind of School Club: Web Based, Teacher Led
The Thinking Skills Club is a website that offers online games which support cognitive development in children in Grades 3-8. But unlike other game sites, it asks teachers to run lunchtime and after school clubs using its games while the website tracks student progress, forging a new symbiosis between teachers and tech.
Toronto ON (PRWEB) July 30, 2013
The Thinking Skills Club is one of a new brand of game-based websites which offer teachers access to novel types of educational tools. Rather than spurn computer games as time wasters and attention distractors, teachers are being recruited by these websites to give students time and access essentially to play.
Some may counter, that's what recess is for. But with evidence pouring in from study after study that games can actually improve the underlying neural networks that support math and reading skills, working memory, executive functions and abstract thought, and that the motivational aspsects of game based learning can make even algebra enjoyable, the urge to turn back the clock is becoming harder and harder to defend.
Based on neuroscience research which says that brain structure and capacity change throughout our lifespan and that we can intentionally target some of those changes, the Thinking Skills Club offers online games sourced from other websites which research suggests can have a positive impact on cognitive functionality. But unlike other gaming sites on which kids play by themselves, teachers are asked to run clubs where students can play these games with their supervision, collecting pieces of a "brain puzzle" as they go.
Similar websites include coding software such as Scratch, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and MinecraftEdu, which bends the popular game Minecraft, in which children become virtual architects, to pedagogical ends. Teachers can run clubs around lesson plans or in an unstructured way, letting students explore and develop their creativity.
At the recently held International Society for Technology in Education conference, author Jane McGonigal talked about games not only for learning but as a way to improve quality of life. The website Educade.org and others provide teachers with lists of games and game based lessons for them to use in the classroom. Whole school districts are supplying each and every one of their students with iPads, Chromebooks or other platforms as computer companies come up with solutions not just to course content but classroom management as well. Many schools and school districts employ Technology Integration Specialists whose job it is to vet such offerings so teachers don't have to, but often as not it's the teachers who are bringing useful tools to their attention.
As summer nears the midpoint and the first bell of fall gets closer, teachers may want to put down their novels and pickup their notebooks, as the courtship of technology and teaching moves from future promise to present reality.
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