Thursday, June 12

Game On

I’m Lindsey Whitton Christ, the new Insideschools staff writer. Although I am new to the Insideschools team, I have used both the blog and the website for years, first as a social studies teacher at IS 143 and then as a journalism student at Columbia. I am thrilled to begin contributing!

On a visit to PS 183 on the Upper East Side this week, I watched a group of excited fifth graders distress the edges of the paper on their own pioneer diaries, and I was reminded of my favorite computer game as a child, Oregon Trail. The students were undoubtedly so enthusiastic (they were falling all over each other to tell me everything they had learned about westward expansion) because the project let them imagine that they were pioneers experiencing the trail. The computer game had allowed me to do the same thing – although on a clunky 1980s Apple computer it was hardly the degree of computer simulation we are now used to.

While computer games can be a distraction, they can also be a great tool for learning. With social studies, computers can help students to model life in the past and understand social history. Sandra Day O’Connor has even gotten in on the game. My seventh graders would have loved to use the website the former justice is helping develop about the American justice system. My sixth graders each spent a short time on computers doing an activity on mummification and then they talked about what they learned for weeks. And I know several, otherwise mature, adults who would never admit that they occasionally stay up late creating civilizations on their computer.

During summer vacation when it’s too hot to go outside, which games do you encourage your children to play? And which (be honest) do you like to play with them?


Anonymous said...

About 10 years ago my preschooler cracked the code for reading, because he LOVED the Jump Start programs. (Do they still even exist?) The endless repetition they offered was perfect and beyond my patience, so I didn't mind in the least.

Bronx_shrink said...

My now 9yo used to love Reader Rabbit games and like anonymous 6:39 commented, I think it helped him begin reading at age 3. Now my 9yo and 3yo (and their parents) enjoy the Wii. I like that the sports games allow them (us) to be physically active. There are also good "brain challenging" games such as Kabooki.

As an aside- I'm very happy to see "Ms. Whitton" join the staff of insideschools. I worked at 143 in the school-based clinic for some years and recall that you were a dedicated, caring teacher- a favorite of a number of the students with whom I worked. I also think it's nice to have the perspective of someone who has worked in what is probably one of the most challenging schools in the City.