Playstation tutors make learning fun

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 15, 1999

The students at W.O. Parmer will return to school after the holidays to find a new, fun gift in each third and fourth grade classroom.

In an effort to continue the progress made over the past few years to improve Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, the administration and teachers at the Greenville elementary school will use a Sony Playstation, just like those many children have at home to play racing, fighting and sports games with, to help educate their students.

Teachers and after-school tutors attended a workshop to learn more about the game unit and the software that accompanies it. Each class will have a 35 educational CD's set, purchased from an educational program called Lightspan, that will teach children math, reading and language arts.

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The idea behind the games is to allow children to take something they are already familiar and comfortable with and transfer it into the classroom.

"This is a way for the students to have fun while learning at the same time," Minie Coon, assistant principal at W.O. Parmer said. "Many of the students have a Playstation at home and they recognize it as something that is fun. This is a way for the students to have fun without even realizing that they are learning."

The games begin on simple levels and when the student conquers one they are able to move to on to a harder, more challenging stage. The more a student plays the more he or she learns and with 35 CD's in the package the potential is almost limitless for children in the two grades.

Another advantage of the Lightspan program is that students will be able to check out the software so they can take it home to be used on their own Playstation units.

"We hope to see a lot of parental involvement with this program. We will allow parents to check them out so they can take them home and help their children get through the levels they may be having trouble with," Coon said.

Another group of people who will take advantage of the new games are those instructors in the after-school tutoring program who will use the games to help their students with subjects they are experiencing difficulties with.

A meeting soon will be held to help tutoring parents learn about the system and how to use it as a means to educate their children.

Even with the games, Coon said it is still the teachers and parents that will make the biggest impact on the students.

"The program includes a lot of teacher's materials such as hands-on activities and other, more traditional means of educating. It also allows teachers to use the program as part of their overall schedule and to coordinate them with what is going on in class. If the students are learning about subject-verb agreement, there is a compact disc that they can use to help them with that particular topic," she said.

The game system also gives the teachers more freedom.

"They (teachers) can use them for large-group instruction or in centers where one or two children can play the games together," Coon said.

W.O. Parmer will begin allowing students to use the educational games in January. But, even with the newer, more fun educational games, Principle Allen Whittle said it is still the teachers that make the real difference to a student.

"Our teachers will still have to teach and they are the key to our students' success. This is a good tool that they can use to help their students learn. Most of the children are familiar with video games and we expect this program to be very popular," Whittle said.