The achievement gap between English language learners (ELL) and students in lower socioeconomic groups is often associated with a language gap. Ballard & Tighe, Publishers recently completed a beta test of Word Raider: Escape, a new online video game that teaches academic vocabulary to students in grades 2-5. The testing evaluated game-play and student interaction. It yielded data supporting the ability of game-based learning to engage students while enabling deeper learning and vocabulary retention.
The academic vocabulary taught in Word Raider: Escape was selected to bridge the language gap, and the game's evaluation in both the United States and international schools revealed that providing rigorous content through a game-based format produced a state of focused motivation, which boosted language acquisition.
The majority of students surveyed after the evaluation indicated that their favorite aspect of the educational game was "Final Escape," a difficult end-of-level word puzzle that tests students' ability to use the academic vocabulary learned within the game.
"I would have my native English speakers play this game to practice sentence structure and word meaning," said fourth-grade teacher Charlene Farnworth from Bonneville Elementary School in Alpine School District, Utah. "My ELL students, at all levels of acquisition, would benefit from playing this game as a tool to increase academic language usage (CALP), and to provide scaffolding for English sentence structure."
Built with the same kinds of activities that make video games captivating and fun, Word Raider: Escape is a robust instructional program.
"The game is great for advanced vocabulary," said Gloria Ramirez, a K-5 teacher from Soaring Heights Leadership Academy in Jubilee Academic Center District, Texas. "Especially since they see an animation of what the word means, they can make a more visual, verbal, and kinesthetic connection to new words."
Word Raider: Escape situates players in a virtual world where learning and practicing academic vocabulary is the objective. Nearly 1,000 students from Texas, Utah, California, and as far as Singapore participated in the beta test, conducted from October1-12, 2012.
"Teachers want to reach and engage their students in innovative ways," said Mark Espinola, CEO of Ballard & Tighe, Publishers. "The game features a reward system that encourages multiple uses of vocabulary in varied contexts while achievement badges motivate students to keep playing. We were able to deliver more than 1,100 language assessment items through the game without the players knowing they were being tested."
Dan White, CEO of Filament Games, an award-winning game production studio that co-developed Word Raider: Escape with Ballard & Tighe, believes that game-based learning can make a difference in education.
"We've spent years designing learning games that effectively combine two seemingly disparate domains: commercial game development and the learning sciences," White said. "Word Raider: Escape immerses students in a virtual environment that's both engaging and effective."
Word Raider: Escape will be available in mid-December at $24 per student per year. For more information, visit www.Word-Raider.com.
About Ballard & Tighe, Publishers
Since 1976, Ballard & Tighe, Publishers has focused on developing instructional and assessment materials used in more than 3,500 Pre-K-12 school districts in both the U.S. and internationally. For more information, visit www.Ballard-Tighe.com.
About Filament Games
Filament Games, established in 2005, is an award-winning game design and production studio that exclusively develops learning games. Filament's prime directive is to build high-quality play experiences that translate into real world knowledge and understanding. To learn more, visit www.FilamentGames.com.