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Saint Clair school plans video game-like program to help kids learn more
[March 08, 2013]

Saint Clair school plans video game-like program to help kids learn more

SAINT CLAIR, Mar 08, 2013 (Republican & Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Saint Clair Area School District plans new computer-based learning initiatives for the fall, which will be approved at the school board meeting next week.

Superintendent Kendy K. Hinkel and Principal Jason Bendle introduced the computer-based program at an open house Feb. 27, when the public was invited to see the progress of the renovated elementary/middle school.

Bendle said that the students may come home and tell parents they are playing video games at school, but they're not.

"It's not video games but it kind of looks like a video game," he said. "It's a research-based program that uses cognitive brain exercise to stimulate the mind." Hinkel said that over the last two years, the school district has been working on new math material and piloted an online system through MIND Institute a year ago.

"Next year, there will be huge initiatives in math using technology that really personalizes the learning for individual students," she said.

Hinkel said that the school district was able to negotiate and pay for the program over two fiscal years with federal money, so there's no budget impact.

During the open house, Bendle also talked about Fast ForWord from Scientific Learning, another product that the school is currently using with students.

"It's kind of outside the box," he said.

He said that it impacts language and develops reading fluency and comprehension.

It's being used in kindergarten through eighth grade and the grade levels are using it in different ways, such as some using it as a station that students go to at some point during the day.

"What the program does is when kids go through the program, they top out of it," Hinkel said. "Whether you're in kindergarten or eighth grade, you get what you can get out of it, then we really are only going to use it for kindergarten, first and second grade and anyone transferring into the district." It was said to have an effect on the students whether they are beginning readers or excelling beyond their grade level. The program was initially created for children with auditory processing disorder, meaning they can hear what they're being told but can't always process it.

Hinkel said that the school uses it when teaching students initial reading skills, since if students can't hear phonetic names and singular sounds in words, it's difficult to use that strategy with them.

"This program helps build that," she said. "They believe they're playing a game, so they're having a good time." The program helps build listening skills by connecting words together into sentences and once a skill is mastered, the student moves on to the next skill.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

___ (c)2013 the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.) Visit the Republican & Herald (Pottsville, Pa.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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