Video Games – The Savior of Public Education

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Ida Byrd-Hill asked:

Four of every ten young-adult dropouts receive some government assistance. Dropouts are eight times more likely to be in jail, and half of all prison inmates are dropouts. (Milliken, 2008) Dropouts begin the dropping out process as early as fourth grade when it becomes quite apparent they cannot read well enough to keep pace with the curriculum. Or worse yet, when they can no longer handle the shame and embarrassment of special education.

These consequences translate into lost tax revenues and higher costs. We can only be economically vibrant when our residents are engaged in productive careers in this competitive global economy. Global competition begins with strong literacy skills.

Since the 1940s k-12 schools taught the whole language concept of reading- memorizing words, known as sight-reading. When we were a manufacturing society, sight-reading and memorization was the easy quick way to prepare people for the factory as basic reading skills were necessary. Unfortunately, whole language has virtually left generations of students functionally illiterate to struggle with reading every day in this highly complex world.

The saddest tragedy is that these students are naturally tech savvy and prefer self challenge skills that are necessary for today’s global society. Skills America needs to secure high demand businesses,” states Ida Byrd-Hill President of Uplift, Inc.

According to Claire Raines, author of Connecting Generations: The Sourcebook, Millennials, those ages 13 to 23 years of age, prefer to learn using teamwork, technology, structure, entertainment and experiential activities. These students are considered technical natives having been raised with cell phones, DVDs, and video game consoles since their birth. They are naturally technical savvy and prefer self challenge.

Millennials can be found manipulating video games – every day of the week for hours developing a skill of self challenge. This population loves the excitement and thrill of video games. Major game retailers, such as EB Games and Gamestop, have followed these Millennials, even to locations within the inner city.

Their curiosity, intensity and seriousness about their video games is refreshing. They have even joined informal clubs to compete. They read complicated gaming magazines to decipher how to move to the top level within any game.

According to Information Week 7/18/2008, “So far this year, retailers have sold $16.6 billion in video games, consoles, and related products, compared with $12.2 billion during the same period a year ago.” Video gaming is gaining momentum even in a shaky economy. Video gaming challenges a person’s brain especially since participants spend hours of time playing the game.

It appears many people believe this fact as sixty-five percent of American households play computer or video games. Eighty-five percent of all games sold in 2007 were rated “E” for Everyone, “T” for Teen, or “E10+” for Everyone 10+. Ninety-four percent of game players under the age of 18 report that their parents are present when they purchase or rent games. Sixty-three percent of parents believe games are a positive part of their children’s lives.

Imagine transporting the elements of video games to the reading arena. Gaming technology can revolutionize reading as it allows for fun repetitive review of concepts and vocabulary. Children could read and pass standardized test with ease. America could return to its dominance in education from its perch of 21 out of 25 industrialized nations where it slipped. Sounds like a pipe dream. Until one looks at STRONG READER.

STRONG READER is a cyber class that combines phonics, etymology and reading comprehension with video lessons, video games, avatars and puzzles to engage students to complete the process of reading development. Listen to a video lesson, answer a question correctly then play the video game. Most online literacy classes are textual based. Sample game below. Play 1 round game/HOOP SHOOT 11a.swf

This cyber class was created by Uplift, Inc. and evolved out of an English class developed at Hustle & TECHknow Preparatory High School, a cyber school catering to high school dropouts with this statistical makeup.

Student Body Makeup

93 Students 70 Boys, 23 Girls,

Ethnic Makeup

1% Asian 2% Caucasian 96% African American

Residential Makeup

91% Detroit Residents 9% Suburban Residents

Special Needs Makeup

30 % Adjudicated Youth 81% Economically disadvantaged

A cyber school is a brick -and-mortar school with part online/ part classroom instruction.

With this unique student body makeup, Hustle & TECHknow Preparatory High School achieved these successes:

Won Educational Program of the Year Automation Alley 2007

Collective Lexile reading scores moved from 4.2 grade to 7.8 grade in less than one year.

Three students qualified as 79 quarter finalists for the National Vocabulary Championship out of 10,000 participants

Three teams participated in the Think Quest Website design competition

Inaugural graduation rate 80% June 2007

100% post secondary enrollment

Managed Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus

Began Fencing Team with Compuware Coach

If your child struggles with the shame and embarrassment of special education resource rooms because they can not read subscribe to STRONG READER. If you struggle with reading as an adult subscribe to STRONG READER.

Subscription prices.

One time fee of $175 or $35 per month for 5 months.

Go to to subscribe. Subscription is Paypal secured.

Desire to review a demo, accept confidentiality agreement here. Instructions to the demo will popup. Keep in mind this demo is an 8th grade student assessed at reading level of 3.1.

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