Educational Video Games Gain Acceptance as an Effective Response to Intervention Tool

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Educational video games such as DimensionM by Tabula Digita are increasingly being used as part of Response to Intervention programs in K-12 schools. One example is Garland Independent School District in Texas.

According to the January 28 issue of Education Week, there are very few RtI models for middle and high schools

A growing number of schools are using Tabula Digita DimensionM immersive educational video games for response to intervention (RtI) programs. Designed to simultaneously develop understanding of key math concepts as well as computational fluency and problem-solving skills, the research-based educational games' action-packed missions and 3-D graphics have proved to be a powerful tool for intervention.

"According to the January 28 issue of Education Week, there are very few RtI models for middle and high schools," said Ntiedo Etuk, chief executive officer and co-founder of Tabula Digita. "The DimensionM program provides a different approach to teaching math, resonating especially with students who have been unsuccessful or unmotivated in the traditional math classroom. Instructors have reported that the games are highly motivational, provide instant feedback and are suitable for cooperative or peer-to-peer learning as well as individual work."

For example, the Garland Independent School District, located in Texas, has implemented the DimensionM program at three middle schools with economically disadvantaged and academically struggling students. Garland's middle school math coordinator, Sandra Whitley describes the games as an option that teachers can use to help Tier 1 and Tier 2 RtI students.

In the middle schools, Tier 1 students' performance is evaluated via observation, curriculum assessments, district benchmarks and the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. If students are struggling in math, teachers first try a number of intervention strategies, including the DimensionM games, within the regular classroom environment before moving specific students to the next tier of instruction. Tier 2 students receive highly individualized learning programs, which also might include the games, depending on the teachers' determination of a particular student's needs. Although Garland uses the games for the first two tiers of instruction, they are also suitable for Tier 3 because teachers can assign specific modules to individual students based on the need.

"We understand that certain children may learn differently, but that does not mean that they are learning disabled," said Whitley. "We're really looking at each child individually to determine what they need. Tabula Digita integrates the math into the missions so the students see more relevance, so we use the DimensionM software to increase student engagement."

Hedwig Pettinger, coordinator of technology for Garland's middle schools, saw the resulting motivation firsthand when she visited one of the middle schools using the software. When she walked into the computer lab, a student said, "Welcome to the loser classroom." She asked him what he meant, and he turned to a classmate and asked, "Did you ever pass anything?" The classmate shook his head. The first student turned to another classmate and asked the question again. Again, the reply was in the negative. A short while later, she watched those same students play DimensionM and whoop enthusiastically as they solved the embedded algebraic problems within the games' missions. Afterward, Pettinger suggested to the first student that he rename his group "the winners" and he agreed.

DimensionM meets today's digital students in the world they live in with a highly interactive 3D gaming format just like other popular video games they play every day. With embedded algebra instruction based on standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

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Leslie Eicher
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